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Tuesday, April 22, 2014
"The Centrality Of Christ's Resurrection"
He Presented Himself Alive!
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"He presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). "This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses" (Acts 2:32). "But God raised Him from the dead" (Acts 13:30). "But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55).
About twenty-five years ago Dr. Gary Connor was an orthopedic surgeon who attended our church in northern Pennsylvania. He had a strong conviction that apostolic preaching always centered on the Resurrection. He had studied the book of Acts extensively and noted the prominence of the resurrection theme in those early sermons. In fact he left his medical practice and moved to the Lancaster area to attend Lancaster Bible College to study the Bible. I called Gary, who still lives in this area yesterday and we plan to meet for fellowship later today. I haven't seen him in about ten years.
The Book of Acts records the history of the early church following the resurrection of Christ. The prologue introduces the book with these words, "In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen. He presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:1-3). The first book is the gospel of Luke. Theophilus is a name that means lover of God. It may be used here in a literal sense describing a person or it may be generic referring to all who love God.
This week we are examining resurrection truths from each of the five major sections of the New Testament. Yesterday we took a brief look at a familiar verse in Matthew concerning the first witness who declared concerning the risen Christ, "He is not here; He is risen, just as He said" (Matthew 28:6). Today we will look at several of the references to the resurrection in the book of Acts, the history of the early church. The early church was birthed out of the eyewitness experiences of the first disciples or apostles. These verses affirm the centrality of the resurrection of Christ.
Bible teacher Alan Carr has a message on this portion titled "Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing". Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected from the dead, and about to ascend into Heaven gave His final lesson. He could have talked about anything in the world. But, His last words were a command and a commission to share the Gospel. If it was that important to Him, it should be equally important to us!
There are three prominent preachers in the book of Acts.
1) The first sermon was delivered by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. He had denied the Lord some 53 days earlier but now stood boldly proclaiming the Gospel of the resurrected Christ. Standing with the other eleven apostles (Acts 2:14) he states, "This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses" (Acts 2:32). Being a witness to the resurrected Christ was a requirement concerning the apostle who would replace Judas (Acts 1:22). This demonstrates the centrality of Christ's resurrection in apostolic preaching.
2) Paul, who had been Saul witnessed the resurrected Christ in dramatic fashion at his conversion recorded in Acts 9. The risen Lord appeared to him. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he (Saul) said, “Who are you, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9:5,6). Paul of course went on to become an apostle and in his first recorded mission sermon preached concerning Christ, "But God raised Him from the dead" (Acts 13:30). Paul's parting words to the Athenian philosophers was to declare that God had "fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man Whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31)
3) The third major preacher in Acts was Stephen, one of seven church leaders who supervised care for individuals. Stephen explained and defended the gospel in the longest sermon recorded in Acts (7:2-53). He didn't get to finish though. In boldly proclaiming the Gospel he got up to the point concerning Christ's death when he was violently interrupted (see Acts 7:51-54). However he still testified to the risen Lord who appeared to him during the most intense and final testing of his life: "But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (v. 55).
The resurrection of Christ was a vital New Testament doctrine and central to apostolic preaching. The most convincing proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that He lives within believers today in His resurrected life and transforming power.
Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we need the strength and boldness that comes through the indwelling resurrected power of Christ to proclaim, defend, and live the Gospel message day in and day out. It's unlikely that we'll ever be tested like Stephen, but we will be put to the test of defending our faith before unbelievers in this hostile world where the majority lack faith. We feel inadequate for the task, but we walk in the resurrected power of the Holy Spirit and look to You for courage, compassion, and clarity in the message You have commissioned us to share with unbelievers. That which we cannot adequately express, or clearly explain is provided in the Scriptures which we can give to those we reach. Not only do we thank You for the inspiration of the Scriptures, but we are so grateful that we have easy access to the Word. Amen.
Evidence of farm activity is increasing in our area as farmers prepare for spring planting. This unusual looking farm machine passed me on the Main Street leading into Mount Joy. It is used for spraying.
Our cat Dottie will turn 13 next month, the longest we've ever had a pet. We don't feature photos of her as much as our dogs since she's generally content just lying in the barn. But she's enjoying the warm weather and climbing our still barren oak tree.
Yesterday Brooksyne thinned out the long row of Autumn Joy Sedum along the walkway leading to our front door. It is a beautiful, hardy, rapidly growing plant with almost no maintenance. Stephen took all the extra plants to the side of the road in front of our house in hopes that someone may be blessed by the free plants! They are still here this morning if any local readers are interested. Here's a photo of the sedum in early autumn.
Technical help requested: For the last several weeks (perhaps longer) I have noted a formatting issue in regard to the way some photos display. Some display sideways! I am using the same photo editing and html software I have used for years. The only change I've made is that many of the photos are now taken with an iPhone. The photos look fine in the photo editing software and on the web editing page when I prepare the message and in some browsers and email programs. But they turn sideways on other browsers or when viewed individually by clicking on them. Any suggestions? Respond here.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
This week we will share songs that have blessed us about the resurrection of Christ
"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today" Video (traditional) Video (a bit more contemporary)
"Power Of The Cross" Video Steve Green
"Easter Song" Video Matthew Ward
"See What A Morning" Video Getty/Towend team I (Brooksyne) really appreciate the Biblical resurrection account being recounted in such detail and colorfully presented in this song by the Gettys and Stuart Towend, one of 12 hymns they collaborated on, based on the core beliefs as articulated in the Apostle's Creed.
"I'll Rise Again" Video Dallas Holm
"Christ Arose" Video Daniel Thornton
"Because He Lives" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"He Arose" Video Stone Church choir
"He's Alive" Video Don Francisco
"He Gave His Life" Video Vocal Union
"There Never Was A Pulpit Like The Cross" Video Vocal Union Brooksyne heard this on the radio Saturday and called my attention to it. It's a southern gospel acapella rendering of a powerful message within the song.
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
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Personal Mission Statement "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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