Who is Jesus?

Jesus Claimed to be the Unique God-Man and the Only Way to Salvation
 
If I consider the Bible as an accurate source of truth, the question becomes, “What does it say about salvation and eternal life?” In John 17:3, the words of Jesus are recorded as follows: “This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou have sent.”   The Apostle Peter, at the threat of death, said this, “For there is salvation in no one else (Jesus), for there is no other name under heaven that is given to men by which we might be saved.” The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans and said in Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you shall be saved.” What makes Jesus and belief in Jesus the central theme of Christianity? The New Testament consistently presents Jesus as the unique God-Man, the author of salvation and the only way to eternal life.   In order to understand Christianity, we must honestly deal with the claims of Jesus and the eye witness testimony of His disciples. Consider the following truth claims presented in the New Testament:
 

  • Jesus claimed to be the source of truth:

 
 
John 8:31-32 31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
 
John 14:6 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me
 

  • Jesus claimed to be equal with God:

 
 
John 10:30-33 30I and the Father are one.” 31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
 
John 14:8-10 8Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”
 

  • Jesus claimed to be the unique way of salvation:

 
 
John 3:35-36 35The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
 
Mark 8:34-38 34Then Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life[1] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
 

  • The eye witness followers of Jesus claimed He was God, the only way to salvation:

 
 
Acts 4:11-13 11Peter, speaking of Jesus said,    ”He is the stone you builders rejected,        which has become the capstone. 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” 13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
 
1 Timothy 1:15-17 15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
 
Philippians 2:5-11 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should   bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father.
 
The claims of Jesus are both audacious and exclusive. One cannot escape the narrowness of their implication. The law of non-contradiction leads us to the conclusion that the claims of Jesus are either true or they are false. They cannot be both true and false at the same time. The law of the excluded-middle negates the option of a gray area in between. Jesus’ claims are black or white, there is no middle ground. Jesus claimed to be God and the only way to salvation. If His claims are false, Jesus either knew they were false or he thought they were true. If Jesus claimed to be God and the only way to salvation but knew His claims were false then He would be a liar. If Jesus sincerely thought he was God and that He could forgive the sins of all men but it wasn’t true, His claims would be the delusional statements of a man with a mental disorder! What option best fits the evidence? Does Scripture and the testimony of history, present Jesus as a liar, a lunatic or Lord? There is no other option.
 
One can’t simply believe that Jesus was a good man or a wise teacher. If you dismiss the claims of Jesus as false, by default you either believe Jesus to be deceptive or delusional. If you do not regard the statements of Jesus as true, you cannot accept Him as a moral man or spiritual teacher. Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic or Lord. Based on the profound example of Jesus’ life and the historicity of His claims, I am convinced that Jesus is the only Savior and Lord.
 
 
Questions for Reflection
 

  1. What are some of the unique truth claims of Christianity?
  2. What did Jesus clam about Himself? What did others claim about Him?
  3. Which of these claims do you find the hardest to believe?
  4. Do you believe these claims must be either true or false?       Why or Why not?
  5. Based on the claims of Jesus, He is either a liar, a lunatic or Lord. Which of these options do you think has the most support from the Bible and from the historical record?
  6. Why can’t a person just believe Jesus was a good moral teacher and leave it at that?
  7. If Jesus is who He claimed to be, what should your response be to Jesus?

 
 
 
 

How are you gifted to serve the Lord?

1 Corinthians 12:4-7
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1 Peter 4:10-11
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Romans 12:4-8
4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[a] faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Ephesians 4:16
15…we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ten Questions to ask and answer in seeking to discover and use our spiritual gifts (Romans 12:1-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-13, 27-31; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Peter. 4:10-11)

  1. Have I offered my whole life to God as an act of worship? (Rom. 12:1)
  2. Am I living in the power of the Holy Spirit? (1 Cor. 12:1-7)
  3. How can I maximize my service to God, stewarding His grace so that I give Him the greatest glory? (1 Pe. 4:10)
  4. How does the Holy Spirit manifest Himself in me and through me to others? (1 Cor. 12:4-7)
  5. How can I help the body grow in love? (Eph. 4:15-16)
  6. Has God designed me to be more of a speaker or more of a server? (1 Pe. 4:10-11)
  7. If the Church as whole is a Body, what part am I? What is my role on the team? (Romans 12:4-8, 1Cor. 12:27-31)
  8. Do I have any of the supernatural sign gifts? (1 Cor. 12:7-11)
  9. Do I have any of the greater gifts? Have I been gifted and called to lead, shepherd or equip the whole Body when it is gathered for worship? (1 Cor. 12:27-31)
  10. Am I an Equipper or one who is to be equipped to do the work of ministry? Have I been gifted to train others to do ministry? (Eph. 4:11-13)

I. Write your answers down
II. Review your answers in prayer
III. Ask someone who knows you well to comment on your answers
IV. Review the list of gifts in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 27-31; Ephesians 4:11 and ask God to show you the top 3 gifts that most represent how He has designed you
V. Ask God for a strategy that will put your gifts into practice building up the Church and serving others
VI. Meet with your Pastor, share the results of your study and volunteer

You Gotta Give it Away!

You Gotta Give it Away!
 
The gospel is the only hope and power for salvation. It is a holy deposit that needs to be lived out, communicated and given away to as many people as possible
 

  1. Be convinced that the Great Commission applies to you

Mt. 28:18-20
18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  • Jesus is giving His final charge to His disciples
  • We need to personalize the command of Jesus
  • Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all the nations

 

  1. Be committed to allow the light of Christ to shine through your life

Mt. 5:14-16
14″You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

  • This what Jesus said is true about His followers
  • We are the light of the world
  • We need to let our light shine so that others may see our good works and praise our Father in heaven

 

  1. Regularly pray for divine appointments

Col. 4:2-6
2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

  • The command to be devoted to prayer is tied to personal evangelism and witnessing opportunities
  • We need to pray for fellow believers to be bold in sharing the gospel
  • We need to pray for wisdom and grace in how we speak to outsiders the good news of salvation
  • We need to pray for divine appointments to share the gospel with people whom God has brought into our lives for that very purpose

 

  1. Take the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results with God

1 Cor. 2:1-5
1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

  • This is success in witnessing
  • We take the initiative, obey and share Christ in the Spirit’s power
  • God produces the fruit

 

  1. Answer questions and objections

1 Pe. 3:15
15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

  • Apologetics is not arguing but respectfully answering questions and making a case for Christ
  • Get at the real issue and talk about sin, Jesus and salvation
  • Challenge people’s presuppositions and demonstrate that Jesus is the only way
  • Call people to surrender their lives to Christ

 

  1. Draw upon the resources of the body of Christ

 
1 Cor. 3:4-9
4 When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?  5 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. 6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.
John 4:35-42
35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.” 39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

  • Witnessing is a team effort
  • Resources include: other believers, books, websites, teaching tapes, events, church
  • Invite people to meet positive believers and hear a credible presentation of the gospel

 

  1. Develop a redemptive friendship

1 Thess. 2:1-8
1You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. 2We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. 3For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 5You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.  As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 8We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.

  • Without apology, Paul is defending his boldness in preaching the gospel
  • He also is clear that he cared about people not just presenting the message
  • It is not an either or, we are to share our faith and build relationships, in fact the best witness is sharing our faith in the context of a friendship

7 Commitments of Highly Fruitful Christians

 
1. Wholehearted surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ
Matthew 16:24-25
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
 
2. Proactive living as a Kingdom servant
Matthew 25:31-40
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
1 Peter 4:10-11
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
 
3. Intentional and contagious witness for Christ
1 Corinthians 9:16-27
16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
 
4. Generous financial stewardship
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
 
5. Gathering weekly for fellowship and worship
Hebrews 10:19-23
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
 
6. Daily spending time with God in the Word and prayer
Joshua 1:7-9; John 15:7-8; Ephesians 6:17-18
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
 
7. Keeping short accounts with God
1 John 1:7-9
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Living by faith in the Word of God

Everyone puts their faith in something. We either trust in the Word of God or we trust in our feelings and perceptions. David was a man who trusted in the Word of God. In 1 Samuel 17 David is confronted with the taunts and challenges of Goliath. All the soldiers in the Israelite army saw Goliath, heard his arrogant words and were paralyzed with fear. David heard the same challenges, he saw the same giant, and he experienced the same feelings of righteous indignation for the name of the Lord. The difference was that David’s faith was rooted in what God said was true. David believed that God was bigger than Goliath. David believed that God’s promises were truer than Goliath’s threats.
David’s perspective was influenced by the Word of God not by his human fears or understanding. We don’t always get to choose which Goliath’s we face but we do get to choose whether we face our Goliath’s with our faith in God’s Word or our faith in ourselves. To be a mighty in faith like David, we need to be convinced that God’s Word is true; we need to be people who know what it says, do what it says and we need to be trained to use the Word as the sword of the Spirit.
In the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Harrison Ford plays the Indiana Jones character in search of the Holy Grail. Sean Connery, playing Indiana’s father, helps him in this quest. Following an old map with ancient warnings, Indiana must pass several tests while navigating through a treacherous cave to find the Grail. One of the tests is that he must make “a blind leap of faith”.  Indiana is standing in a huge cavern on the edge of a seemingly bottomless pit. “Take a blind leap”, Jones says to himself as he sees a picture on the map. The picture is of a man walking across the chasm to the entrance of a cave where the Grail has been hidden. To Indiana’s view and to the movie audience, it looks like a deep gorge with no connection to the other side. Putting his faith in the map, rather than what his eye could see, Indiana steps off the cliff. At first it looks like he is headed straight into the cavernous deep but instead his foot lands on solid rock. The camera angle changes on the film and in what looks like an optical illusion, a hidden bridge connecting both sides always existed. Indiana is affirmed in taking his step of faith.
Faith is always expressed in action. When David put his faith in the Word of God, he boldly stepped into the Valley of Elah. Likewise, when the Israelite army put their faith in their feelings and personal perceptions, they passively retreated into their own fear. We face Goliath when we trust in the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 states,
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
God’s Word is life giving and life changing. It has the power to impart faith, increase courage and develop character. When we face Goliath with reliance on the Word of God, we are no longer trusting in our own resources but we are trusting in the supernatural resources of God.

The Resurrection, Ascension and Seating of Jesus

  1. The resurrection of Jesus is one of the essential truths of Christianity

1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. 2 It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
 

  1. The resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact

1 Corinthians 15:5-8
5 Jesus was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. 6 After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.
 

  1. The resurrection of Jesus is a miracle

1 Corinthians 15:12-20
12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
 

  1. The resurrection of Jesus guarantees our own resurrection

1 Corinthians 15:35-50
35 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have…42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. 45 The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit… 50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
 

  1. The resurrection of Jesus gives us purpose for living

1 Corinthians 15:51-58
51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.  55 O death, where is your victory?       O death, where is your sting?”
56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
 

  1. The Ascension of Jesus was a physical and observable event that is the model for His return

Acts 1:9-11
9After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  10They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
 

  1. The resurrection, ascension and seating of Jesus represents His finished work of salvation and absolute rule and authority

Ephesians 1:19-22
19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church
 

  1. The ascension and seating of Jesus Christ is to place of intercession before the Father as the believer’s High Priest

Hebrews 7:22-27
22Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 23Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely[c] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
 

  1. Because of Jesus’ ascension, seating and Priestly ministry, the believer in Jesus is secure and guaranteed of their salvation

Hebrews 7:24-27
24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
 

  1. Because of the resurrection, ascension and seating of Jesus, the believer in Jesus has spiritual authority and the hope of spiritual victory

Ephesians 1:19-22
19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church
Ephesians 2:4-6
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus
1 Corinthians 15:57
57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

First Importance

1 Corinthians 15:3-4
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
 
The big idea
In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul is arguing for the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection. Paul says that the resurrection is not only a miracle and historical reality, it is the very basis for the gospel. The gospel is rooted in a person-Jesus; it is rooted in history-Christ really lived, died and rose from the dead; and it is rooted in theology-Christ’s death and resurrection means that we can be forgiven for our sins! This is why Paul describes this gospel truth as that which is “first importance”. The most important thing for anyone to understand is that because Jesus lived, died and rose again they can be forgiven for their sins and reconciled to God. This is the gospel!
 
Personal take away
Have you received the gospel and personally believed in Christ as the One who can forgive your sins? This is a question that everyone must ask themselves if they are going to experience a personal relationship with God.
A second question is, “Do I prioritize the gospel as first importance in my life?” In other words, do you see the gospel as more important than anything else? Paul said that this message was of “first importance” compared to everything else he could communicate from the Bible.
A third question for all of us to consider is this: “Am I passing on to others the first importance message of the gospel?” Paul passed on the message of the gospel to the Corinthian audience. It was Paul’s habit and custom to share Jesus with others. The Christian life is all about knowing Christ and making Him known. How can you share the gospel with others today?

By Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone!

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Big Idea
The hallmark of the Reformation and the New Testament is this: Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. God saves us by His grace. We receive His grace when we put our faith in Christ as the One who died for our sins and rose from the dead on our behalf. We cannot work for our salvation nor earn it through any human merit. We receive salvation as a gift from God. God gets the credit and we receive the gift of eternal life in Christ.
Personal Take Away
Grace and works cannot co-exist. Are you living today by grace or by your works? Have you received Jesus Christ by faith and the salvation that He brings? Grace empowers us, so ask God to give you His grace today. Ask God to strengthen you with His grace and to make His salvation real in your life by grace. Who in your world needs grace? Take some time to ask God to show you anyone in your sphere of influence who needs the grace of God today. Take the initiative to share God’s gracious salvation with others!

Keep the main thing the main thing!

Acts 2:22-24
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
 
Big Idea
This excerpt is from Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost. This is the first sermon preached in the church age. Notice the content: Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. This is the gospel message, which Romans 1:16 states, “…is the power of God for salvation”.
Our job is to keep the main thing, the main thing! The main thing is the truth about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. He is the One sent from God, the Messiah and Savior, who provides salvation for all who believe in Him.
 
Personal Take Away
Do you believe in Jesus Christ as the One sent from God to die for your sins and rise from the dead? Do you see this truth as the main thing? Is the risen Christ real to you and living in you? Like Peter are you keeping the main thing, the main thing by talking about Jesus? Take some time to meditate on this passage and consider these questions. It really is the main thing!

What do you believe about the Bible?

We believe the Bible, consisting of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired, authoritative and inerrant Word of God. It is the final rule for faith and practice.
 
Isaiah 40:8
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever.”
 
Matthew 5:17-18
17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
 
1 Thessalonians 2:13
13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
 
2 Timothy 3:15-17
15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed (inspired) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
 
2 Peter 1:16-21
16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19And we have the more certain word of the prophets, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
 
There is a 10 step process for a truth in the mind of God to produce change in a person’s life today:
 
1.     Revelation

  • God makes Himself known
  • General and special
  • Psalm 19, Romans 1:18-21, Hebrews 1:1-7

 
2.     Inspiration

  • The revelation of God is written down under the leading of the Holy Spirit

2 Pe. 1:21
21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

  • God breathes-out His Word into the human authors- 2 Tim. 3:16

 
3.     Canonization

  • God oversees the process to insure that the books He inspired are collected into a unified text
  • The Canon is a collection of inspired books
  • Tests for canonicity: 1) Internal evidence 2) Apostolic authorship 3) Integrity and historicity 4) Dynamic impact on hearers 5) Claims to be the word of God

 
4.     Preservation
God sovereignly protecting and preserving the Bible from persecution so that it survives

  • Edict of Diocletian in 303 AD to eliminate all copies of the Bible; failed!
  • Communist and Muslim persecution; failed!
  • The Bible has endured

 
5.     Translation

  • The Bible was the first book translated; 250 BC the Septuagint
  • The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book
  • The Bible was the first book printed on the printing press; Guttenberg Press

 
These relate to God’s work of giving us His Word; now that we have the Word, what are we going to do with it?
 
6.     Observation

  • Reading and studying the text so as to see what it says
  • Rev. 1:3

 
7.     Interpretation

  • Based on what it says, “What does it mean?”
  • 2 Timothy 2:15
  • What was the divine and human intent of the original writer in communicating with the original audience?
  • Historical context; Argument; Context; Grammar and syntax; Cross-referencing; analogy of doctrine

 
8.     Illumination

  • The work of the Holy Spirit speaking to me from the text
  • The Holy Spirit showing me truth and revealing to me God’s will from Scripture
  • Ephesians 1:16-18, John 16:11-15

 
9.     Application

  • What does it mean to me?  What am I going to do about it!
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17: teaching, rebuking, correcting, training, equipping
  • James 1:22-25; being a doer of the word

 
10. Transformation
The work of the Holy Spirit making me more like Jesus as I obey His Word in His power

  • Internal change- 2 Cor. 3:17-18, Romans 12:1-2

 
What are you going to with God’s Word? How are you going to get the Word into your life and how will you apply it?