Know Jesus; Know Freedom

John chapter 8 begins with the story about the woman caught in adultery. Since that day we only know her by this designation as she is brought to Jesus for judgment. Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees saying, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” As they walked away the woman was set free from the penalty of death. His counsel to her: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” Perhaps she should be known as the “woman set free from adultery” or the “woman whom Jesus forgave.”

Jesus then deals with the Pharisees who continually question Him and His teaching asking: Where is Your Father? Who are You? (John 8:19, 25) They challenge His statements: Your testimony is not valid (John 8:13). In the midst of this conflict many Jews believed in Jesus.

30 As He was saying these things, many believed in Him. 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 “We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered Him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. 36 Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.
John 8:30-36 (HCSB)

Some of those who have been listening to Jesus are now new believers. The Pharisees are questioning, prodding, plotting and attempting to lure Jesus into a theological trap. As he speaks many of them are not aligning themselves with the Pharisees, but with Jesus. They believe Him and they believe in Him. It is to these new believers that Jesus makes a grand promise: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” What is the truth? How does it set us free?

Truth is not a philosophical proposition or a theoretical claim about the workings of the world. The truth is a person. His name is Jesus.

True freedom, not merely political or societal freedom, is centered in knowing Jesus, both objectively and experientially. The beauty of Jesus’ promise is that you can enjoy true freedom in any situation without changing where you live, how much money you make or who is running the government.

To really understand this freedom requires an objective knowledge of Jesus and His word. The first thing Jesus tells these new believers is to “continue in My word.” Those who are truly His followers will continue to learn and follow His word. He is not saying that you gain salvation by studying His word, but that you show your salvation by spending time in His word. This is a call to knowledge, to understanding objective truth. You must seek more knowledge of Jesus through His word. You will not experience real freedom unless you spend lots of time learning truth from God’s word. Without this revelation of truth in your life you will be trapped by falsehoods that will hold you prisoner to the very things from which Jesus desires to set you free.

Bible study should be done consistently. More than on Sunday mornings, the Bible should be a regular part of your reading. Read through it, chapters at a time. Read it in depth, spending time with small sections or short chapters. Read for an overall sense of the book and study for deeper knowledge. Read it instead of the devotional book or with the devotional book. Read it, then pick up the book about it. There is no substitute for reading His word.

Reading the Bible should be done systematically. Follow a reading plan or devise one yourself. Reading or studying through a book of the Bible gives you a sense of the entire counsel of God’s word. If you only read your favorite parts, you tend to only reinforce what you already know and are not challenged to deal with those truths that are uncomfortable or that do not support your preconceived notions.

As a side note, deep understanding isn’t required to become a believer, but it is required of those who are believers. Sometimes we emphasize a false idea that a person must know a lot of theology to become a Christian. The plain truth of Scripture is that all you need to know is that you have sinned and that God has provided a remedy for that sin in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Some people, after maturing in their understanding of truth, think, “I had no idea what I was doing when I was baptized. I didn’t understand the meaning of my sin or the depth of God’s forgiveness. I must not have been saved. I need to do it again.” While no one should be talked out of a deeper commitment to Christ, newfound knowledge does not negate childlike faith at the moment of salvation. Most of those who are married would say some of the same things about love and marriage: “We had no idea what it really meant when we exchanged vows at the altar. We didn’t understand the depth of commitment or patience required for marriage.” Immature ignorance about love and commitment does not mean a marriage is no longer valid.

Part 1  2  3  4

Who Are You?

Rahab the Harlot. Doubting Thomas. The “thief on the cross.” The “woman caught in adultery.”

You probably recognize the names and maybe even know their stories, at least how they received these monikers. Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho who hid Jewish spies, protecting them from the king of Jericho. Those spies gained crucial information in the conquest of Jericho and Rahab’s acts secured her future with Israel. In Joshua 2 and 6 she is called Rahab the prostitute 4 times, simply Rahab only twice; even in the New Testament she is Rahad the prostitute (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25) to identify her from the other Rahab’s found in scripture (Job 9:13; 26:12; Psalm 87:4; 89:10; Isaiah 30:7; 51:9; Matthew 1:5). Many remember her as a prostitute, but few may remember her acts of courage and of God’s provision for her.

Thomas was a twin and one of the twelve disciples, a faithful follower of Jesus who for some reason was found to be absent when Jesus first appeared to the disciples as recorded in John 20:19-23. When he heard of the appearance from the other ten he expressed his famous statement of doubt: “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” (John 20:25) Forever known from that point as Doubting Thomas, he was confronted by the resurrected Jesus eight days later. Jesus offered his hand and his side and Thomas responded with one of the first statements of the deity of Christ: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) It is interesting that many know to call him Doubting Thomas, but few may realize that his was one of the first recorded statements of Jesus’ deity.

The thief was one of three hanging on the cross that day. Joining him that day were one more thief and Jesus. His name is not known, he is recalled simply as the thief. He is remembered for his cry out to Jesus: “Jesus, remember me when You come into your kingdom!” (Luke 23:42) Jesus responds with a promise: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) That promise assures those who believe and trust Jesus as Savior and Lord that there is immediate presence with Him after death and that there is nothing required for salvation beyond a faithful call to Him. This thief, in his simple request, leaves all Christendom with lessons about salvation that are spoken simply in his story.

As important and theologically significant as these individuals are in the story of faith, they are all popularly known for their mistakes and not their faith. Rahab is still called a prostitute. Thomas is still a doubter. The thief is, well, a thief. Be assured that today, as she stands in heaven, Rahab is not called a prostitute by her heavenly father and Thomas is not known as the doubter and the thief is called by his name, not by his sin.

I use these to illustrate what often happens in life. People are often called or known by what they have done wrong, not what God has made right. Everyone has committed sin and everyone has fallen short of the glory of God. You may have been able to hide your sin from the masses, or it may be well known. Sometimes there is no way to keep it secret. An out of wedlock birth, a DWI conviction, a public divorce or any other number of public transgressions cannot be hidden from others and can become the most common way others identify you. Even if it doesn’t become part of your name, like Rahab the prostitute, it can last as your reputation long after you have left that lifestyle or repented of the sin.

Even worse than the public humiliation, you might feel a private shame that never leaves. You might be haunted by your own past to the point where you are unable to go forward. You may not feel worthy to serve God or to speak on His behalf to others whose sin is less public. Without the benefit of God’s work and His truth on your life, your failures may define your identity for the rest of your life.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is hope for us all. Rahab, Thomas and the Remembered One each found new life and hope for an eternal future when they came to faith. This new identity is here for you also.

By faith you confess your own sinfulness and accept the truth that only the death of Christ can redeem you from the wrath of God. You commit your life to Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord. You are justified by His death, cleansed from all sin, adopted into the family of God and sealed by the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of your sure salvation. Now God’s work of sanctification begins. You bring to Him all of your mess of identity and He begins to remake you.

Do you remember your sins that have been forgiven? Do they follow you wherever you go? Have you allowed the truth of God to set you free from your past? Have you begun to live in the freedom promised in John 8:32?

Part 1  2  3  4

The downfall of man isn’t new – The Cain Generation

Have you noticed how our society seems to be turning farther away from righteousness and into greater denial of any moral compass at all? We are less likely to label anything as right or wrong and certainly less likely to feel guilty about anything. If someone does try to make us feel guilty, we have the wonderful spiritual retort that ends all conversation: “Judge not.” Jesus said it, so no one can do it. Is this new? Have we stumbled into a spiritual abyss never before known or experienced?

The short answer is, “No.”

Let’s go back to the beginning, the first man and woman. Adam and Eve committed the sin of eating from the one prohibited tree in the world. They could’ve eaten from any of the other trees, good fruit on all of them, yet they fell for the one thing that was off limits. We’ve examined their sin in depth over the years, but I want to look specifically at their response. When you read Genesis 3:7-10 there are several things that stick out in the aftermath of sin:
1. “they knew they were naked” – Suddenly Adam and Eve had a knowledge beyond the mere facts. They had been naked, but there had been no shame. Suddenly they saw things differently, sewed fig leaves together to mask the shame they felt and hid in the bushes from God. An instant earlier, they were naked, but without shame, without sin.
2. “they hid themselves from the Lord God” – The context seems to indicate that Adam and Eve had freely walked with the Lord through the garden, enjoying creation and spending time together. Now the relationship has been broken, there is something amiss and Adam and Eve know it. They hide, not wanting to face the Lord.
3. “I was afraid because I was naked” – Had it not occurred to Adam that he had always been naked and that in fact the Lord is the one who had created him. The Lord knew what he looked like naked. This was a holy fear, Adam knew he had violated the law. His fear wasn’t because of his lack of proper garments, but because he knew his own acts were in violation of the commands of his creator.

Now contrast this response with what happens in chapter 4, only one generation later. Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, out of pure jealousy commits the heinous murder of his own brother Abel.  Keep in mind that this murder happened after the Lord had spoken to Cain, warning him to fend off the sin “crouching at the door.”  Once the deed is done, how does Cain respond to his own sin?  You can read Genesis 4:9-16 to see.  Cain doesn’t hide.  The Lord finds Cain without any difficult search and Cain is defiant.
1. “I don’t know, am I my brother’s keeper.”  This response to the simple question of “where is your brother” is a picture of defiance.  Cain isn’t a seemingly innocent four year old pleading ignorance, he is a defiant adult confronted directly by the creator of the universe.  His response isn’t to hide or to be ashamed, but to pose ignorance thinking or hoping his transgression will be ignored by the Lord.  He has no intention of confessing to the sin, as far as he is concerned what he did was bring some justice to an unjust world.  His offering was rejected for no good reason and Abel’s was accepted for no good reason.  He had every right to demand satisfaction.  His murderous act wasn’t against Abel as much as it was against God.  Now to whom would God show favoritism?
2. “My punishment is too great”  Cain’s willingness to correct the Lord as He passes judgment is amazing.  Adam and Eve accepted their judgment without question.  “The Lord is the creator, He established the rules, we broke the rules.” But Cain rebels against the judgment.  “Who is God to make me live as a wanderer?”  He even complains about being hidden from the presence of the Lord, yet Cain himself was defiant of the Lord’s word.  How often today we want God, but only as we want Him, in our own convenience and acting in ways that please us.

So here we are, one generation removed from the Garden of Eden and humanity is in deep rebellion against the Lord.  Man is establishing his own rules, declaring his own truth and living by his own idea of right and wrong based mostly on selfish intent.  It doesn’t take us long to abandon the truth of God for our own truth, to trade relationship with the creator for selfish indulgence and to make our own desires so important that we willingly redefine the world to fit them.  So we will change the definition of words like marriage or life to fit our own indulgences.  We will chastise moralists who try to uphold a standard, marginalizing them by calling them judgmental bigots and extremists.  We will elevate tolerance as a supreme value except when faced with the intolerant traditionalist who dares voice an opinion that calls our actions into question.  An opinion, I might add, that would have been the standard belief of all the people in the world for most of world history.

As so we become the Cain Generation.

Merry Christmas!

For most of us, especially the children, the central activity of Christmas is giving and receiving gifts.  We spend hours considering what to give, making and/or buying gifts, wrapping gifts, a few short seconds opening gifts, and then a few more hours returning the shirt that doesn’t fit, the socks that don’t match, or setting up the new electronics or trying to figure out how to put together toys without using a manual.
The precedent for exchanging gifts at Christmas was set early on.  The Magi arrived from the east bearing gifts.  They brought to the Christ child gold, frankincense and myrrh.  They gave gifts that were thoughtful, appropriate and costly.  But the real precedent setter was God himself who gave the first Christmas gift, the most valuable Christmas gift, the most costly Christmas gift and the greatest Christmas gift when he gave us his son.
As Jesus became a man he bridged the gap between God and man.  This is key in our salvation because we need someone to bridge that gap.  In our sin we have been separated from God.  When Jesus came he crossed that gap.  If he had not been fully human he would not have completely crossed the gap.  If he would not have been fully God his birth would have been meaningless for us.  But we “hail the incarnate deity” who has made it possible for us to enter into relationship with God Almighty.
Jesus came for us:  He came to deliver us from sin.  His mercy is not just in understanding and empathizing, but in deliverance.  We don’t have go on without hope.  We don’t have to go on without joy and peace. We don’t have to go on in loneliness.  He comes to our side.  He walks alongside us.  He forgives us and removes our guilt.  He is the “Savior, Christ the Lord.”  We need a savior.
The shepherds were the first to hear the good news announced by the angelic host.  They were the poor outcasts of society.  They were in need of Jesus.  He came for them.
But he came for us all.  23 times in Luke’s first two chapters the Greek words for “all” or “entire” or “every” are used.  Jesus is not just the savior of the Jews or the shepherds, he is the savior of the world.
Therefore, since Christ shared with us, we must also share with others.  It is a denial of Christmas to keep it all for ourselves.  There is no greater feeling than giving a gift that is just what someone needed.  There is no greater gift than the gift of salvation.  Share Jesus with someone this Christmas.  He is just what we all need.  Let’s follow the example of the shepherds who came to see Jesus, then went to tell others.

Merry Christmas!

Christian Counter Culture

I’m out of town but I wanted to get something on the blog this week. I’m still thinking about the Sermon on the Mount so I decided to put up my notes from this past Sunday. You can listen to the message by going to our podcast page on the website at www.springcreekbc.net it should be online by Friday.

Here are the notes:
Matthew 5:1-6

5/5/13

Intro: This is Jesus’ Treatise – What a Follower Looks Like
This is what He wants His followers to BE, not DO
Measure your life against every paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount

Christian Counter-Cultural Character

There must be a difference:
Sacred vs. Common
Set Apart vs. Everyday
A People of Distinction –Malachi 3

The church needs to learn that being like the world doesn’t attract non-Christians.
We also need to learn that Christ isn’t calling us to mere superficial/surface differences but to inner distinction.

True righteousness isn’t desribed by:
Wearing Christian clothes,
Listening to Christian music,
Watching Christian TV,
Driving a Christian car,
Working a Christian job, or
Making Christian money.

This is about the character of a person rightly related to God.
Who we should be as believers is contradicted by who the world wants us to be.
What we do will grow out of who we are.
What we do as believers will also be contradicted by what the world does.

There are also contradictions here, not only with the world, but also with the religious.

If you are not convicted as you read the Sermon on the Mount then you have issues at the heart of your relationship with God.

1. Blessed – Happy
Objective vs. Subjective

What God Declares How I Feel

What the believer What the world
Should want wants

Based on inner Based on outer
sufficiency circumstances

None of these are natural, they all require the power of the Spirit
They are for all Christians, not just the Super-Christians
They all are for Christians, not like spiritual gifts.

2. The Condition of My Spirit – v. 3-5
2.1 Poor in Spirit – v. 3
Definition:
Realization of my need for Christ
I will see this in the 10 Commandments or the SotM
Contrite and Humble spirit
I need God’s mercy
I am in spiritual poverty
Without pride before God
I have nothing to say about my education, honors, morality, accomplishments

Illustration – Isaiah 6 – I am a man of unclean lips

Contrast – “Believe in yourself, you have everything you need to accomplish great things”

Promise – Kingdom of Heaven – Present tense – not future
Salvation is only for those who recognize their own spiritual poverty and trust in Christ

2.2 Mourn – v. 4
Definition:
Not mourning a loved one, but mourning sin
Mourning the loss of innocence, personal integrity, self-respect
Sorrow over sinfulness that leads to repentance
Mourning over everything that hinders greater growth into the image of Christ

Also mourning the sinfulness of the nation, the world

Illustration – We make much of grace and sometimes that leads us to make light of sin

Contrast – Direct attack on superficial Christianity.
True joy will not precede conviction of sin.
“You need to be all that you can be”

Promise – There will be comfort
Be Sorrowful but not Miserable
Be Serious but not Sullen
We know Christ and His mercy, His grace, His hope

2.3 Meek/Gentle – v. 5
Definition:
Hard to define in English, Hebrew & Greek
Gentle, Humble, Considerate, Courteous
Power under control

A humble attitude that shows a true estimate of ourselves

“A man who is truly meek is the one who is truly amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do.” D. Lloyd-Jones

Illustration – David enduring the pursuit of Saul

Contrast – The world values the aggressive man who leads the organization with ambition
How did Peter respond to this? What about James and John, the Sons of Thunder?

Promise – Inherit the Earth
Not how we would expect to gain the world
Now – content, enjoying life without the frustration of unsatisfied ambition
Future – with Christ – even if I don’t get it here, there is the promise of eternity

2.4 How do we cultivate these?
Read about Christ from the gospels
Worship God throughout our lives
Contemplate standing before God
– we need to gain a proper view of ourselves in His presence
– we cannot continue to compare ourselves with others

3. The Longing of My Soul – v. 6
3.1 The Scope of Righteousness
– Rightly related to God – justified

– Rightly related to my own soul – morality

– Rightly related to others – social relationship, justice, freedom, honor

3.2 Spiritual Hunger Characterizes God’s People
Desire to be free from sin, the power of sin and the influence of sin in all its forms

Desperate to be holy

Illustration – Physical hunger moves us to get food
Spiritual hunger moves us to find satisfaction that can only be filled by Jesus Christ

If you have no desire for spiritual things then you need to examine whether you are related to God at all

Contrast – 1 Corinthians 2:14
The world seeks happiness – it can never be caught

Promise – Seek righteousness, you will be filled
You will be blessed

Conclusion:
Like the 10 Commandments, the SotM should confront us with our need for God’s grace and mercy that are found only at the Cross
Even as a believer, I must come to the cross

Experiencing God – Week 5, Day 3

One of my favorite paragraphs so far is on this day. Here it is:

God wants us to follow Him daily, not just follow a plan. If we try to spell out all the details of His will in a planning session, we tend to think, Now that we know where we are going and how to get there, we can get the job done. Then we forget about the need for a daily, intimate relationship with God. We may set about to accomplish our plans and forget the relationship. Or God may try to lead us to do a new thing, but we reject it because it is not in our long-range plan! God created us for an eternal love relationship. Life is our opportunity to experience Him at work. (italics not added)

This paragraph is a very accurate description of what happens in my own life often and what I see in others also. It is a picture of the church at work so often. We get a plan in mind and off we go, “Hope the Lord meets us somewhere near the end.”

I really like the last sentence, “Life is our opportunity to experience Him at work.” This life is where we can see God at work. Don’t abandon Him or get out in front of Him. Wait to see Him do what He does. Rely on Him daily and seek Him and His presence daily. This is where the beauty of a “walk with God” comes out. We are on a journey with Him and the emphasis is on “with.” I want to go with Him, not just near Him.

Lord, help me to seek you everyday and to wait to go with You.

Acts 2:40

37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!”

Look at how Peter approached the job of evangelism. As he shared that day the message, he was straightforward and clear in what he said. He did not mince words. He clearly laid out not only the truth of the work of Christ but also the necessary response of the people. But many times, in reading this passage and relating this story, we overlook verse 40.

Peter warned and pleaded and called them out. He spoke many other words to them. He urged them to make a decision. He repeatedly called on them to come to Christ.

Probably the most difficult thing to do when sharing Christ with someone is asking them to make the decision to accept Christ. It is at this point that we encounter the greatest battles from Satan. He will do anything to keep us from asking the very simple question, “Would you like to receive the gift of eternal life right now?” For in that question we go beyond the giving of information and offer the appropriate response to information. It is the same in the worship service, the greatest tension can take place in a service during the invitation. At that point in the service Satan will do anything to distract you from hearing from God and reacting to him. He will give you any number of excuses why you shouldn’t respond. The commitment is hard.

That is why it is so important for believers to pray during the invitation time at church. Realize that there are mammoth spiritual battles taking place all around you. I know that not every message speaks to every heart they same way. There are times when we come to church, listen, are encouraged, but not convicted because we are already right with God, we are doing what we should be. This isn’t a time to relax and take a nap, it is time to pray. Pray for others who are dealing with conviction. Pray for God’s Spirit to win battles in hearts and minds at that very moment. Pray for a powerful move of God during the invitation. Commitment is hard, pray for those around you.

Acts 2:37-39

37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Peter shared the good news of Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord. He shared the need of man who in his sin and rebellion against God has brought upon himself the judgment of God. That each of us is responsible for the death of Christ, for it was our sin that sent him to the cross. But that God did not leave him in the grave, but raised him from the dead that he might offer us the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life with him. Now man must respond to that offer. “What shall we do?”

Repent. The message of Jesus Christ is that we must repent. That means that we must turn from our former way of acting and thinking and turn toward God’s way of acting and thinking. It is a change of intellect, emotion and volition. We change the way we think, the way we react and what we do. Peter’s message is the same as John the Baptist’s and Jesus’. Repentance involves a change in approach to life. It includes an new and intense abhorrence of sin and an adherence to Jesus.

It is the message to the world, we must change the way we have lived in, reacted to and thought about the world. Christianity is not a religion that can be added to your plate, it is a relationship that will overtake your life. You cannot remain the same as you are today and claim Christ as your Savior and Lord. That is why Peter includes baptism in his statement. Repentance is clearly the emphasis in this urgent command. But baptism is associated closely with repentance for baptism is the visible picture of the inward change. For Peter, it would have been inconceivable that anyone who would repent of their sins and receive Christ as Savior and Lord would not be baptized. Baptism is a natural response for the regenerated Christian. It does not bring forth forgiveness of sins, it accompanies genuine conversion. This is the message Peter brought to the crowd on Pentecost. It is the same message preached for 2000 years and still today.

“He is both Lord and Messiah” – Acts 2:36

To be the Christ is to hold several offices, or to carry out certain functions. Those offices are: prophet, priest and king. They could be described in function as: revealing, reconciling and ruling.

Jesus Christ is a prophet, he reveals God. Many times in the gospels he is called a prophet. A prophet speaks the word of truth about God. Jesus not only spoke the word of God, as we generally associate with the work of a prophet, but he was the Word. John, in the beginning of his gospel, declares that Jesus was the Word and was God. All creation came into being by Jesus and is being held together by Jesus. Remember how God created the world, he spoke it into being. He used the Word. He also spoke the truth. Not limited to speaking the truth, in John’s gospel again, he lays claim to being the truth. Jesus was a prophet, revealing God, in what he said and what he did. He didn’t just reveal God, he was God.

Jesus Christ was a priest, he has the work of reconciliation. Jesus work as the priest encompasses intercession on behalf of his people, ministry to their needs and offering sacrifice for them. Hebrews tells us that Jesus is still, to this day, praying on behalf of the saints before the Father, interceding on your behalf. He set the example of ministry on the earth and now, through his Holy Spirit, he continues the ministry of lifting burdens and giving encouragement and strength. And he offered the ultimate sacrifice for his people, he gave himself. He reconciles the world to himself and to each other. Jesus, as your priest, will work to bring about reconciliation between you and God and between you and your spouse, friend, family, neighbor, enemy. It is his nature to reconcile.

Jesus Christ is King – he rules. The best picture of this during his earthly life is Palm Sunday, when everyone came to give Jesus a kingly welcome into Jerusalem. They proclaimed, “Hosanna to the king!” Today, as the King of kings, he rules over the universe. We may doubt that, evidence may seem scarce. But Jesus’ reign begins in the church and in the hearts of his disciples. He should have Palm Sunday in our lives everyday. He should be proclaimed the king each and every day. In Philippians 2, probably the best and easily one of the most recognized passages on the kingship of Jesus, it says that, “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” That is not just a statement of future events, it is an encouragement to present reality. This truth is for today and was the clarion call of the church in that day. It was the second part of Peter’s statement.

This is the identifying call of the church. To call Jesus Lord is to acknowledge all that has been said about him. Jesus is Lord is the church’s only distinction from all other religion. Others may claim that Man is lord, or creation is lord, or reason is lord, or these holy writings are lord, or I am lord, but only Christians make the claim, “Jesus is Lord.” To make this statement is to surrender your own agenda to Christ. It is to give up claim to your life. It is to lay your marriage, your job, your family, your pride, your reputation, your wealth, your poverty at the feet of Jesus. Jesus is Lord means that you never put anything on your calendar that has not been cleared with Jesus first. It means that when he gives direction to your life that you put all else aside to be obedient. Jesus is Lord means that you do not accept anything less in your life than total subjugation of your will. You are acknowledging another will as greater and more important than your own. When Jesus is Lord you will do things that you do not enjoy for the sole purpose of honoring him as your Lord. When Jesus is Lord you will speak to people you despise so that the goals of His kingdom may be forwarded. When Jesus is Lord you will forgive those who have hurt you immensely just so you may walk in step with Christ.

A word of warning, when you make Jesus your Lord today, he will not erase your past. He will not strike it from your memory. He will not return your life, your family, your marriage, your relationships back to where they were before they became messed up. He will take you where you are to a different place though, that is more wonderful than where you are and more joyful than you can reach on your own. When Jesus is Lord, he does not erase your past, he gives you a future.

Acts 2:32-36 – Jesus is the Messiah!

32 “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. 33 Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says:
The Lord said to my Lord,
‘Sit at My right hand
35 until I make Your enemies Your footstool. ‘
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!”

Jesus has been raised from the dead. He has been exalted. He has received the Holy Spirit. He has poured out the Spirit on them. These are all aorist tense verbs, which means that they represent past action that has been completed. That is to say, each of these events is now a fact of history.

They have all witnessed his resurrection. This no doubt refers to the 120 believers who were in the upper room that morning of Pentecost and are now speaking in various languages. There were about 500 witnesses to his ascension, which is the reference of being exalted, raised up, to the right hand of God. Since Jesus said that he must go to the Father so that the Spirit may come, they can then assume that he has received the promised Spirit, verse 1:4, and they are all witnesses to the pouring out of that Spirit. These facts seem clear, but what can we make of their interpretation. The conclusion is reached in verse 36.

Peter’s startling conclusion is that Jesus must be the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah. I call this a startling conclusion because of the impact this statement would have on those listening.

In first century Judaism there was some great expectation that the Messiah would soon come. The Messiah is spoken of often in OT scripture. He is to be the one to establish the kingdom of God on earth, bringing peace and joy to his people. He is to be the savior and king of the world. While many were eagerly expecting his appearance, many also had some false understandings about the nature of the Messiah and the work of the Messiah. Many thought that when the Messiah came he would topple the Roman government and establish a new Israel here on earth that would rule with an iron fist all the pagans of the world. Many thought that the peace and joy that would come with the coming of the Messiah would be a peace between nations and a joy of victory over other countries. You can see how, with this pervading understanding of the Messiah, presenting Jesus as the Messiah was quite startling. Maybe even more so because not many had recognized him as the Christ while he was alive. Jesus referred to the coming of the Christ several times in scripture, but only a few times did he acknowledge his identity when others called him the Christ. He did so when Peter made his statement, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God” and at his trial. He was called the Christ by John the Baptist, Andrew, Martha and some demons. The last time he was called the Christ was by those who ridiculed him while he hung on the cross. So when Peter, on this day calls him the Christ is an amazing statement of theological boldness.

That kind of theological boldness has historically been in short supply and remains so today. There is a pervading weakness in the church to stand for Christ as THE ANSWER, THE CHRIST, THE KING OF KINGS. We must not shrink back, but stand boldly in the marketplace of ideas, as Peter did, and proclaim the truth about Jesus.