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Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection’

God’s Way of Winning

April 27th, 2011

1 Samuel 5:1-5

  • Relevant to Easter – Dagon was a giant bunny!
  • This passage makes sense as an Easter message
  • The Ark of God had gone into another nation – the Israelites had taken it into battle
  • The Ark is like a wedding ring – a symbol of God’s covenant to Israel
  • But if you commit adultery you are abusing the symbol – the Israelites were like this, looking for other idols – they lost the Ark in battle because of their idolatry
  • The Ark being taken was so awful that when Eli found out he died instantly
  • The Bible is one big story leading up to one climatic ending – tells the story of God’s glory and power
  • The devastation of losing the Ark is a similar feeling to how the disciples felt when Jesus was taken
  • Jesus was their destiny and they were happy to follow Him – He was powerful and authoritative – their hopes must have been really high
  • Jesus was taken without a fight – it would have been devastating
  • Luke 24:21: Jesus/God can sometimes disappoint us but that is because our expectations are wrong
  • Some people are at church because all hope has gone. Others have been away from church because they feel Jesus let them down
  • If you have God on your terms, you will be disappointed
  • If you have God on His terms – the real God – you will see extraordinary things but you may have to wait a while
  • God doesn’t work on our terms
  • Everyone is looking for hope – the problem with Western culture is science argues humanity is an accident – this leads to despair
  • Even on the Cross Jesus was in control
  • The Israelites felt let down by the Ark
  • The Philistines thought the Ark was feeble, no longer able to help the Israelites
  • Col 2:15 – through this seemingly feeble man, God was destroying all evil
  • You may think everything is going wrong and think God isn’t in control, but He is
  • If God was in control at Calvary, He is in control everywhere
  • Dagon fell on his face in front of Ark and the Philistines had to prop him up – on the second night Dagon falls face down, with his head and arms chopped off
  • God is saying “stop it” – stop worshipping anything other than God
  • God might be saying this today – if things are disappearing in your life, e.g. money or relationships, God might be gently pushing over our Dagons
  • People think Jesus died and didn’t rise again – that people felt He was still alive in their hearts and out of that stories about the empty tomb were created and eventually made into a myth – then into a fraud religion.
  • This doesn’t work as myths take generations to be created and Jesus’ story was being told 20 years after they happened.
  • Paul names eye-witnesses that can be verified and the disciples were killed for preaching this message so unlikely to be a myth
  • Jesus was raised to life!
  • Why did Jesus have to die and rise again?
  • Deut 28:64 – we can’t be with God if we can’t keep His covenant – to resolve this God came to earth to live the perfect life and be sent into exile and death for us – we can’t achieve goodness on our own

Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?

November 8th, 2010

All of us hear/see the message of the resurrection through a particular set of “lenses” – our own opinion and worldview. Even if you don’t care about the resurrection, that is still a lens – one that believes it doesn’t matter or affect your life. The aim of this message is to challenge some of those lenses.

1 Corinthians 15:1-9 – this is part of a letter written by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth, addressing some issues they had with the resurrection. Here in Brighton there are many popular lenses.

1. “Scientific” response

  • This says that the resurrection is impossible because people don’t rise from the dead.
  • People with this lens with explain away the resurrection as Chinese whispers, started by fans of Jesus – that his story got greatly exaggerated into legends.
  • But one problem (of many) with this is that scholars will say that it takes generations and generations for legends like these to form, as well as a lack of historical evidence. However, the Gospels are agreed by historical scholars to be excellent historical evidence, and the first one (Mark) was written around 50-60 AD – not anywhere near long enough for a legend to evolve.
  • Paul also talks about how Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time in his letter to the Corinthians – most of whom were still alive at the time of writing the letter, so people could check with those eyewitnesses to validate their story.
  • There are several keys facts that the majority of historical scholars (most non-Christian) will agree on:

i.      Jesus’ death and burial. He was crucified and died on the cross – the spear that was put in his side proved he was biologically dead – and he was buried in a tomb.

ii.     Empty tomb on Easter Sunday

iii.    Appearances of Jesus – many people claiming to have seen him

iv.    Testimony of the Jesus’ disciples – they preached the death and resurrection of Jesus with confidence and most died for their beliefs. Pascal: “I tend to take notice of witnesses who have their throats cut.” 10 out of the 12 disciples ended up being martyrs.

  • Two people firmly did not believe in Jesus – his brother James and the apostle Paul, who went around persecuting the Church. But they ended up turning around and living their whole lives for Jesus, proclaiming his death and resurrection.
  • We have to deal with this information!
  • People conjure up explanations for these facts – e.g. they got the wrong tomb, or the disciples stole the body. But you have to deal with the fact that the disciples died for this – why would they lose their life for a lie? Also the authorities could’ve put an immediate end to Christianity (they sure wanted to) by simply producing the dead body of Jesus – but they couldn’t!
  • Or people will say that Jesus somehow didn’t really die. This is ludicrous – most people didn’t even make it past the flogging stage but died then. How can we honestly think that Jesus survived the flogging and the crucifixion, and somehow burst out of his grave clothes which were tightly wrapped around him, and move aside the heavy stone from the tomb, and beat off the Roman guards?!
  • This leaves us with the only logical explanation – that Jesus really did die for our sins and he rose again to give us new life.
  • So many people have become Christians from studying the evidence of the resurrection in an effort to try and disprove Christianity!
  • If you disbelieve in this evidence then it follows that you can’t believe in a god of any kind at all – at least this is a consistent viewpoint. But if you do believe there is a god or spirituality, how will you account for this?

2. Personal response

  • This viewpoint says “OK maybe it did happen, but how does it affect me and my life?”
  • Interestingly, a lot of people in the “scientific” response camp will fall into this view once they are presented with the solid case of evidence.
  • The resurrection matters so much – it’s the most important thing! Because of these reasons:
  • It means we have to take all the rest of what Jesus said and claimed seriously. They are surely the words of life. Otherwise we shouldn’t pay attention to him. But he does offer us true life! He can be trusted because what he promised came true.We all care about something – justice, right/wrong, the environment, etc. But why care about these things – or anything – if Jesus didn’t rise? Life would be without any meaning or value – it will all just burn up one day. We need to understand that this message was first preached to Jews and Greeks – both who had their own problems with the resurrection, one being that the physical creation is good and that God wants to not just get rid of it, but to restore it. And Jesus is the firstfruits of this new creation – of the physical creation resurrected and made perfect.
    • Christians believe that life matters and know that one day it is going to be restored and made right again. That is why they have been at the forefront of the creation of hospitals and schools – because life matters.
    • Tragically, the single largest cause of deaths among men aged 18-35 in Brighton is suicide. So many people have no meaning in life. But the resurrection gives us HOPE.

    Who did Jesus think He was?

    October 13th, 2010

    Was Jesus just a man with an over inflated story? Would he just be embarrassed by all the subsequent attention? Actually Jesus very clear about who he was and he must have been either incredibly deluded or someone absolutely unique in human history.

    The basic message of Jesus was himself and that’s the evidence of the gospels. This makes Christianity unique in world religions, take Jesus out of Christianity then it all collapses. It’s all built on his identity so it’s important we understand who he is.

    John’s gospel is built around the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus.

    I am the bread of life. We all have a hunger that needs satisfying. Jesus didn’t just direct people to the source of this satisfaction he claimed to be that himself.

    He didn’t just point to the truth he said; I am the way, the truth and the life.

    I am the resurrection and the life Jesus doesn’t provide the answers he provides himself, THE answer.

    Jesus often described himself as the son of man. Was Jesus emphasising he was just human?

    Daniel 7:13-14  provides a great description of the son of man. He has authority to rule all the nations and they’ll worship him. It’s not about manhood, the name refers to him being God,  or another name for the son of man; Messiah. Messiah means anointed, empowered by God for a certain task.

    Old Testatment  full of prophetic promises for a coming rescuer, the messiah. Jesus read all those things, understood them and realised that was his identity. Jesus could have crushed this identity, most ‘messiahs’ end up being killed! Even before the Sanhedrin prior to his execution. They asked are you the Christ? He says I am.

    What part do our expectations play in the way God acts?

    The Jews didn’t understand why Jesus wasn’t acting like the messiah they’d expected. They thought their enemy was the Romans but Jesus talked about an enemy much more dangerous that required a much different saviour to the one they expected.

    We all want Jesus to solve our problems and help us get what we want. But that can show we don’t really understand Jesus and what he offers.

    Our problems are much deeper. There is a heart issue at stake.

    Luke 24:13-32 – Knowing Jesus Personally

    September 13th, 2010

    Luke is trying to show us two things in this passage: that the resurrection of Jesus really happened, and that we can know Him personally.

    1. The resurrection happened
    • Look at the evidence – the combination of hundreds of eye witness accounts of seeing the resurrected Jesus and the empty tomb.
    • The books written about the named witness accounts were circulated while these witnesses were still alive – these people could verify at the time that these were true.
    • The gospel writers used female witnesses as sources – counter-cultural as women didn’t count legally as witnesses in those days. Why would they quote female witnesses unless they really did see Jesus?
    • All the disciples lost faith in Jesus and abandoned Him – but then they became bold, world-class leaders and witnesses, willing to die for their faith.
    • If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is dead and worthless and nothing else in the Bible matters. But if He did, it changes everything – it means Christianity is alive and well!
    • If you have questions about Christianity and what the Bible teaches, first start at the resurrection.
    • The resurrection is the only explanation for the explosion of the early church.

    2. You can know Jesus personally
    • Because of the resurrection, Jesus can walk with us.
    • We are taken from despair to joy and hope of a resurrection – eternal life.
    • These 2 men in the passage despaired because they didn’t recognise Jesus – suggests spiritual blindness. Jesus came as ordinary, when often we are expecting something spectacular or an incredible sign before we believe.
    • Jesus is closer than you think!
    • You need to be vulnerable – come to Him in humility and recognise that He is near.
    • These 2 men also despaired because they didn’t realise what they really needed to be redeemed from. For them it was to be freed from the Roman oppression – to have a change of circumstances.
    • Jesus sets us free from spiritual bondage – we are all slaves, addicted to whatever we substitute for God in our lives to give us fulfilment (success, relationships, money, drugs, etc).
    • When the thing we use to relieve stress in our life becomes the source of stress itself, we are trapped. And only Jesus can set us free.
    • Religion won’t save us – we need a new heart!
    • If we can’t admit the depth of our slavery and bondage, we can’t walk through the gate to true life and joy.
    • Come to Jesus as a sinner, not a sufferer. Don’t come to Him just to fix your external problems and change your circumstances.
    • It’s because of the cross that we can be forgiven and set free! And the cross is only the beginning.
    • The Bible is all about Jesus – every great hero is about Him!
    • Jesus sees us at our absolute worst – and yet loves us and has died for us. He doesn’t reject us but pursues us and welcomes us in.
    • Anyone can come in! Jesus has opened the door and all you need to do is walk through by believing in Him.

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