Saturday, March 26, 2016

160327 The Reward of Jesus’ Resurrection

Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
This morning we are going to take a new look at the results of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have spent a lot of time over the years looking at the physical aspects of his resurrection. Now we need to look at the rewards of his resurrection. There is no way that I could share with you all of the rewards he has for us. I don’t even know what they all are and will not know until I have joined with the uncounted number of those who stand before his throne. At that point, I believe I will be so caught up in those rewards that I won’t be concerned about knowing all of them. Let’s see what we can see now.
Many of the benefits of Christ’s resurrection are already being distributed to those who have placed their faith in him. And yet many times we do not even see what God has done for us when Jesus died on the cross the Bible says that he took us with him there. When he died, symbolically, we died as well. His death on the cross was imputed to us just as Adam’s sin was imputed to Jesus. He had no sin of his own. This is very good news! God sees us as being guilty of Adam’s sin. In the same way God sees us, in Christ Jesus, having our sins paid for through Jesus’ obedience on the cross. So when we died with him we also were buried with him. When Jesus died on the cross God the Father put our sins on Christ. Therefore…
Christian believers are raised with him. Let’s look at Paul’s statement in Colossians 2:12. Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Since we have been buried, symbolically, with him in baptism then we are able to recognize that we are also raised with him through faith and the powerful working of God. When God raised Jesus from the dead, or when Jesus took his life back, we receive the benefits by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is as if the Holy Spirit reproduces Jesus’ death and resurrection in our lives. God counts us who believe in Christ as having died with him on the cross and having been raised with him from the grave.
More than that, we are now seated with Christ. Ephesians chapter 2 begins by proclaiming that we were dead in the trespasses and sins that we once lived in. Being dead, we had no ability to do anything good for ourselves. So let’s look ahead to Ephesians 2:4-7.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
God’s abundant mercy is poured out on us who place our faith in him. Knowing that we were dead, and unable to respond spiritually, God the Father bound us together with Christ and took our sins to the cross and imputed Jesus’ life to us. Then, God went one step further by binding us to Jesus in heaven. According to Scripture the old rebellious person that we were was crucified in Christ, buried, and a new person was born, raised, and ascended into heaven. That’s why the term “born again” is used. Don’t worry about how you feel just think of what God’s word teaches! He has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places. In that sense he has already glorified us. These things being true…
We should join with Paul’s focus. Let’s look at the apostle’s words in Philippians 3:14.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
We are all progressively becoming more and more like Christ, if we cooperate with him in our spiritual growth! Paul’s goal is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus and it should be ours as well. We are not already perfect but we are being perfected. Therefore…
We must remember to whom we belong. Look ahead to Philippians 3:20-21. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
You see, though we are very much a part of this world our true citizenship is in heaven. While we are still in this body we wait for a change that will come when our Lord Jesus Christ returns for his own. When he does, our lowly bodies will be changed to be like his.  Later, John the apostle would write, “when he appears we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2).
Jesus’ resurrection body is the same body that he walked on earth in but it is now made perfect. This is the kind of body we will have when Christ returns and we are raised from the dead. The resurrection body is imperishable, glorious and powerful. Jesus showed his disciples his body and spoke of it as being flesh and blood after his resurrection. Jesus was not then and never will be a disembodied spirit.
Not only are we physically citizens of Earth we are spiritually citizens of heaven. As a result of that condition…
We need to have the right mind-set. Let’s look at Romans 8:5-8. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
When we are born, dead in our trespasses and sins, we continue in that condition by having our minds set on the things of the flesh. When we become believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we need to set our minds on the things of the Spirit. We should no longer live according to the flesh. Instead, we are to live according to the Spirit.
In our Christian lives, as citizens of heaven, it is very important that we depend on the Holy Spirit’s direction and power. The Holy Spirit is received by faith in the beginning of the Christian life (Galatians 3:2) and continues to work in our life according to our faith. We are to live according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and set our minds on the things of the Spirit. Everything we do should, in some way or another, be recognized as being directed by God. As Jesus said, in the Sermon on the Mount, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) We are strangers to this earth which explains the struggle we have, as Christians, living in the world culture. Most of the time we do not recognize that…
We have died along with him. Yet the Scripture is very clear. Let’s look at Romans 6:3-5. Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Jesus’ resurrection becomes a part of our lives as we put our faith in him. That is one of the reasons why we baptize by immersion. Having died with Christ, we are buried with him, symbolically, in the water and raised up to live a new kind of life.
When he died on the cross we were united with him in the mind of God. Now, we are united with him through the Spirit’s presence in living our life day to day. It is not easy to live the Christian life — in fact, it is impossible in our own strength — so God added to the verses we’ve already read one of the greatest promises in Scripture.
Verse 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
This verse does not say sin should not rule over us it says that “sin will have no dominion over you,” the grace of God is come into our life and will finally do its work of shaping us in his image of the Lord Jesus because…
Jesus is our life. Let’s look at his words found in John 11:25-26. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Martha came out to meet Jesus while grieving the death of her brother, Lazarus. Four days had passed but the pain of separation was very clear. As soon as she saw Jesus she spoke her pain to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21) While he was on earth Jesus was light and life. (John 1:4) In explaining himself to his disciples Jesus later said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) He is our life! Jesus is not just raised up he is the resurrection! When we place our faith in him those things become ours.
Martha, and later Mary, would see that Jesus had held off coming to their aid. He had told the disciples, on the way there, that for their sakes he was glad he was not there. This allowed them to see something they needed to strengthen their faith. They had seen Jesus call others back to life. Never had they seen a person called out of the grave. Lazarus’ healing from death was one step closer to what would happen to Jesus after he was beaten, crucified and buried.
All of the resurrections that Jesus had participated in were temporary. Every one of those people would die again. I wonder sometimes how much they remembered about their temporary stay on the other side of the veil. Did God mercifully wipe it from their mind or did he allow them to remember! I don’t know. Perhaps it is not at all important, if it were, surely God would have told us.
We have a new citizenship if we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and we have a new life which is “Christ in us the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)
The reward of Jesus’ resurrection is many things. The power of his resurrection allows us to be raised along with him to a new life. The power of his resurrection allows us to be seated with him in heavenly places. As a result of this work in our life we need to refocus our attention and remember to whom we belong. We need to have the right mind-set.
We have died with him and therefore we have the possibility of being set free from our sinful human nature. Remember, Romans 6:14 promises us that sin will not have dominion over us. I claim that verse for myself and encourage you to claim it for yourself. No matter how many times we struggle to be set free from sin, and it seems to rule over us, God promises us that it will not rule over us. Along with the promise of deliverance from prevailing sin is the promise that…
When he comes he will bring us. Assuming we have gone into heaven already let’s read 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
At the second coming of Christ there will be a great army accompanying him. Those who have died in faith will be blessed to be with him. If, on the other hand, Jesus returns while we are still alive — and he certainly can after all he’s in charge — we will be changed instantly and rise up to meet them in the air.
The power of Jesus’ resurrection promises us that we too will rise. There is a lot that we do not know about that resurrection but we have God’s promise and that’s all we need.
There are many things that come into our life as a result of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. If the rulers of this world had really understood what would happen they would’ve never crucified the Lord of glory. Jesus had become flesh and blood in order that he might destroy the enemy we all face. In doing so he is able to deliver us from the fear of death and the lifelong slavery such fear imposes upon us. Praise God! He did triumph over death and hell and in the power of his resurrection he frees all those who put their faith in him. I hope you have committed your life to him. If not, today can be the day of your salvation.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

160320 Christ the King

 Matthew 21:1-11 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Jesus was born to be king of the Jews. That fact was recognized by the Wise Men who came from the East at his birth. In fact they believed that he should be in the king’s palace because that’s where they looked for him. Throughout his ministry life he resisted the attempts by people to make him a king. Jesus himself proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven was at hand when he began his ministry. The more formal churches call today “Palm Sunday” and we use the term as well.
As the crowds gathered in Jerusalem that day they laid their cloaks on the ground and added to them branches from the surrounding trees. That is the reason this day has come to be called “Palm Sunday”. Jesus the Lord came into the city that day aware of what soon would be happening. Throughout his ministry…
The crowds wanted to make him king. After Jesus had fed 5000 men with a lad’s lunch John records for us the following information. John 6:13-15 So they gathered them up (that’s the left over bread and fish) and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
The crowds that gathered that day probably were not too interested in Jesus’ spiritual teachings so much as they were in his being able to provide them with food and healing.
That’s not so different from today. It seems that many who claim the name “Christian” are not so much interested in the Biblical truth as they are in what they can get from God.
 These people had just participated in one of the largest miracles that has ever been recorded. Just imagine, a boy’s lunch taken by Jesus and blessed before the crowds and then divided among them. 5000 men not counting women and children were present that day! A “king” that could do that kind of miracle would be able to take care of all their needs forever. He saw that they would surround him and demand that he become their king. The crowds were not alone in their understanding that he was to be a king. In fact…
Jesus had proclaimed the “Gospel of the Kingdom”. We can see in Matthew 4:23. That Jesus was using the term “kingdom” right at the beginning of his ministry. And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
As he traveled around Galilee teaching he was also proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. Not only did he provide them with food he was healing every disease and every affliction among the people. This was the kind of “King” any people would want. Not only that but he also would be able to defeat his enemies without the use of a large army. At the very beginning of his ministry Jesus had been led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). In that encounter Jesus came out on top. From that point forward Satan was defeated…
The defeat of the enemy proclaimed the kingdom. Jesus wanted them to understand that he had power over Satan. We read one account of this in Matthew 12:25-29.  Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
The religious leaders of the Jews would not accept the fact that Jesus was truly the Son of God. They were doing everything possible to discredit Jesus. So instead of accepting what he did as coming from God they, instead, claimed that he was operating in the power of Beelzebul. This is another name for Satan. Remember? Jesus had defeated Satan in the wilderness. Luke tells us that when Jesus had defeated the enemy, the devil departed “until an opportune time”! There is absolutely no question that Satan is nowhere near equal to Jesus in power. Jesus defeated him in the wilderness and I believe you could say that Jesus bound him at that time. The devil returned during the last few days of Jesus’ life on earth. John records for us the words of Jesus as part of his last teaching times when he said, “the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” (John 14:30-31) later, in his first little letter, John would write, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
The evidence Jesus presented to them was that he cast out demons by the Spirit of God. That being true, then the kingdom of God had come upon them. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom and…
Jesus’ disciples proclaimed the kingdom. One account is found in Luke 19:37-38.  As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
When Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem the crowds of his disciples were covering the streets with their robes and palm branches. While they were doing this they were rejoicing saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” His disciples knew that he was the King.
However, the exciting events of that day were very “unkingly”! He was not riding on a white horse (he will be perhaps soon) instead he was riding on a young donkey. He did not enter the city by the main gate where important events would unfold for the kings of the world. They would have come in through the Eastern gate and going directly into the temple courtyard. It is believed that Jesus came in from the south through the valley of the cheesemakers. That was really of the “low-rent” district. The poor lived there and, as its name implies, cheese was made there so the air would be filled with the odor of rotten milk! Seeing all these people gathered around Jesus…
The Pharisees were offended. Let’s read on. Luke 19:39-40 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
The Pharisees were horrified that Jesus would allow the crowd to call him “King”! As I said earlier he came on a donkey not a white horse. He is not only King of kings he is also Prince of peace. He came on a peaceful animal.
Yet, the Pharisees were offended. All throughout Jesus ministry they had looked for a time and place where they could arrest him and put him on trial. This King business was their best opportunity. Later, before Pilate’s throne they would say, “We have no King but Caesar!” (John 19:15) As the Son of David…
Jesus was given “all power”! In reciting the “Great Commission” verse 18 is often ignored but it is the most important. Let’s read Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Christ the King has come to the end of his physical life on earth. Because of his death on the cross, setting us free from the bondage to sin, in obedience to the Father Jesus himself said that he was given “All authority in heaven and on earth”. Since that is true we should respond in a number of ways. We should not just give lip service to him we should honor and obey him in all things. We should go every day willing, and ready, to make disciples. When we share the good news with someone and they choose to become a disciple of Jesus they need to be baptized and been taught. We can do this because the one who has “all authority” has come to live in us and has promised to always be with us even to the end of the age.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church about the power of God. Paul said that the resurrection power raised Jesus above all rule and authority. Let’s read about it in Ephesians 1:20-23. God’s power that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
We should rejoice in the truth that Jesus is Christ the King! And we should encourage everyone we meet to come to Jesus and accept him as Lord and Savior! We should let people know that they have two choices about submitting to Jesus. Either we will bend the knee to him now confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in our heart that God raised him from the dead, or, when he comes again we will face the judgment…
Every knee will bow before the King. Listen to what is written in Philippians 2:9-11. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
All those who have rejected him on earth will see him in his glory and will find themselves bending their knee to him and confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord. All this will be done to glorify the Father. We will either face him at our death or at his second coming — when…
He will come again to rule. Let’s read Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. He will come again to rule over all the creation that remains. Those in hell will recognize that they were wrong and he is truly the Lord. Those in heaven will marvel at his glory that will be shown to us. Everyone will recognize that God is just and the justifier of those who believe in him. The truth that Paul saw was also revealed to John on the Isle of Patmos. Let’s look at his description of what he saw.
Revelation 19:11-16Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
When Jesus comes again he will not come riding on a donkey as the Prince of peace. He will come as the faithful and true one who alone is righteous in judgment and the ability to make war. If we have died and gone to heaven before this event we will be on one of those white horses following him as he strikes down the nations that oppose him.
The king of the Jews has become the King of kings and Lord of lords. My prayer for you is that you have already bowed your knee to him. Because we need to remember that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Please place your faith and trust in him as Lord and Savior.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.