Friday, 25 April 2014

He is Risen! dated 20.4.14


You cannot live life to the full unless you know what is going to happen to you at the end.

The Gospel writer’s purpose in writing (John 20:31) involves a twin dimension to the key words in the verse: “these are written” – 

  •  telling us about the words of Jesus (the claims of Jesus) but also telling us about the works of Jesus which backed up or accredited his words
  •  the word “believe” involves a conviction Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and it also involves a commitment to follow him 
  • the last word is life is both qualitative and quantitative. It’s qualitative in that if you come to believe in Jesus on the basis of the evidence, you will have access to the family of God. It is quantitative as this family life goes on forever - it is eternal.
John writes to provide evidence of the words & works of Jesus, that you may believe, that you may develop a conviction and commitment to him, and finally that you may have a new quality of life and a life which never ends.

Fact of Jesus’ Death

3 essential points:

1 The dead body of Jesus was certainly buried (Lk 23:50-56).
 Jesus was executed by professional Roman soldiers. His burial was supervised by a senior establishment figure: Joseph who is a member of the Sanhedrin council, a good & righteous man. All of these were observed by a group of women.

2 The occupied tomb of Jesus was clearly empty (Lk 24:1-12).
The empty tomb discovered by the same group of women who witnessed the burial. The women are named: Mary Magdalene the prostitute, Joanna wife of King Herod’s household manager, and Mary the mother of James.

Now anybody can die!

3 The physical body of Jesus was physically raised from the dead (Lk 24:36-42).
Mary, Peter & John come to the tomb where Jesus is laid but he’s not there. Jesus then appears to Mary Magdalene in the garden.

They saw him – not once. They not only saw the empty tomb but they saw him 3 times. Jesus appeared on numerous occasions over 40 days and also to 500 people at the same time.

The compelling evidence of the words of Jesus: I am the resurrection & the life; the works of Jesus: he is raised from the dead.

Meaning of Resurrection (Lk 24:44-46)

What does the resurrection actually mean?

The essential meaning is that he is the Christ, which means Anointed King: anointed by God with all power and authority as God’s declared Ruler, Lord, King over everybody - Absolute King with universal dominion.

We see what Jesus is saying of himself: he is the one who has lived a life of perfection, he’s the one who has come down from heaven, he’s the one who has displayed the glory and goodness of God, he’s the one who ruled the waves, ordered the fish, fed the hungry, healed the sick, raised the dead. He’s the one with all God’s authority and power, he’s the one who gave his life to death to pay for our sin and rose again never to die. He’s the Christ – he’s the one about whom the Old Testament Scriptures speak. He’s the Christ of God – God’s anointed, appointed, authoritative Ruler and King.
God has visited his world, he has come down, such is his love that his perfect Son has given his life, the Christ must suffer and die and on the third day be raised from the dead never to die again – only One.

Christ of God: your King, your Ruler.

Apostle Paul could now say: Death is like a bee but it’s a bee that had its sting of death extracted because of what Jesus Christ has done.

Live the New Life
A new Creation – we start living the new life now.
Look around you & you’ll see people that have been changed. Lives transformed. Who is changing them?  We believe on the basis of the evidence that the Lord Jesus was raised and he has not died. We believe that he has poured out his Holy Spirit and Jesus is changing us right now.

Return as Judge of living & dead
Are you ready to meet Jesus, the Judge of the living and the dead?
How do you know he is the Judge? Jesus is declared the Judge by his resurrection.

Appropriate Response

Repentance & Forgiveness Luke 24:47
Repentance means to turn back to God from living my life my own way and ignoring God.
As we turn back to God, what can we expect? We will see the open arms of God’s forgiveness.

What does it mean to be a Christian?

It means to lose control of your life to Jesus!
The Lord Jesus is much better equipped to control my life than I am. Why? He knows the end from the beginning and he’s expert at it.

You cannot live life to the full unless you know what is going to happen to you at the end.

This life is not a café, but a dressing room before the big event.

The Cross of Christ dated 18.4.14

There is nothing more famous than this death of Jesus which is being remembered and celebrated all over the world TODAY more than 2,000 years later.

The Bible is clear that the Cross is central to New Testament Christianity.
Christianity is not about going to church. Christianity is not about rules & regulations.
Christianity is all about the person & work of the Lord Jesus Christ – a relationship, and the heartbeat of that is his death that first Easter.

Luke wants us to grasp 3 things about that unique event (Luke 23:13-25; 32-46):

1   Definite Death
First, the cross of Christ was a definite death.
Luke wants us to know that Jesus definitely died on the cross.
Today, there are those who would dispute Jesus’ death: that they did not kill Christ, nor did they crucify him, but so it was made to appear to them that they did.
In the 1st Century, a crucified God was nonsense! A crucified God was a joke. Perhaps this helps us to understand some of the hostility to the idea today. The cross of Christ is very controversial. Christians would contend that the cross is only precious if Jesus definitely died.

2   Deliberate Death
Secondly, Luke wants us to notice that the cross of Christ was a deliberate death. You can see it in the succession of characters who have a hand in the death of Jesus:

  • the political leaders - Pilate & Herod: he is innocent, they say it again, and again, and again. But like many politicians, they are weak & so they cave in to popular pressure & hand Jesus over to be killed.
  • the crowds –They are the ones who want the terrorists released in favour of the Prince of Peace.
  • the religious leaders –the ones orchestrating the whole incident now coming to inspect their handiwork: “If he’s really God’s King what is he doing on a cross?”, that symbol of cursing.
  • the soldiers - If this was the best that the Jews can come up with, then they need not worry about them as a threat .

The Gospel account would make us think that the Jewish leaders are in “control”, or the Roman soldiers are in control, or the politicians are in control. But Luke keeps highlighting the way in which Jesus’ death fulfills Scripture, Jesus’ death fulfills God’s Word promised hundreds & hundreds of years before – whether it’s the fact that he’s executed with wicked criminals, v32; or soldiers gambling for Jesus’ clothes, v34. Or they are offering Jesus wine vinegar, v36 – they all fulfilled God’s Word.

Jesus’ death is not some tragic accident – it is God’s intention. It was the climax to his life. It was his crowning achievement. It was Jesus who is in control – not the Jewish people, not the Romans, not Pilate. Jesus died to fulfill God’s plan.

Hours before his death in Luke 22:37, Jesus takes us to Isaiah 53:12:

4 things in the last 4 lines that tell us why his death is triumphant:

2.1 Voluntary Death
Poured out his life to death: he did it willingly, voluntarily – he went to his death on his own accord, was not forced into it, there was no bullying by a grumpy father.

2.2 Substitutionary Death
Numbered with transgressors - he became sin. He was counted as a sinner: this perfect, spotless, sinless, suffering servant was numbered with the transgressors.
2.3 Sin-bearing Death
He bore the sin of many – literally he lifted off the sins of many.

2.4 Satisfactory Death
He makes intercession for the transgressors: enables him to stand between us and God and plead our cause because he has carried our sins (our rebellion, our rejection of God as sworn enemies of God) in his body at the Cross.

The question that is at the heart of Jesus’ death: “If this Jesus is the great Rescuer-King, then why doesn’t he save himself?” 

Although the cross is a place of death, Luke wants us to know that at the same time, in God’s great plan, it is the source of life

3 Divisive Death
The cross of Christ is a divisive death. Luke shows us how different people acting as a mirror for us, respond to the death of Jesus. The question: what about me? What do I make of the cross of Christ? 

First, the people too pre-occupied with trivial pursuits to ponder v34 – getting along with their jobs, consumed by careers, worried about work, reveling in relationships, but missing out on the most important event in history and the greatest opportunity of all time – peace with God.
Then a criminal too condemned to care v39. He hurled insults at Jesus and treat God like a servant: Are you the Christ?! Well save yourself & us! Some Christ you are! The cross was a place of death but also a place where so many different people with so many different reasons as to why they did not want Jesus to be their King.
The Bible speaks of sin & acknowledges that sin has 101 different symptoms but at its root is this attitude that says: I will not have Jesus as my King.

Finally, we see a robber who wants to be remembered v40-42.
Now these 2 men, as they face death, have very different outlooks. Our robber – he rebukes the other criminal for insulting Jesus. He steps away from the criminal, he steps away from the crowd – he will not mock Jesus.
He sees criticizing Jesus is like criticizing God. There is a deep reverence for Jesus here. But notice there’s also an honest recognition of his own failings, of his own moral shortcomings.
He sees that he is where he deserves to be – that there is a reverence for God, there is recognition of his sin – and this incredible request for mercy v42. He depends on Jesus alone for his future because he knows that Jesus alone can deal with his past as he dies on the cross.

It was a divisive death!

One treats Jesus as his servant in death: Save yourself & us! But our robber: No, I’m not going to do that. No, I won’t treat God like that. He wants Jesus to save his soul & so he treats Jesus as his King and he says: Jesus, please don’t forget me. Please have mercy on me. There are no excuses. 

That is real faith!

That is the faith that saves. That is the faith that puts us into God’s good books. Faith is a faith that says: I am sorry for what I have done wrong. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. Thank you Jesus for doing what I could not do for myself. Please remember me.

And how does Jesus respond? v43.

What do you make of the cross of Christ?
Luke wants us to be in no doubt that although that 1st Easter was a place of death but it was also a source of life – eternal life for this man & for all who would turn & trust in Jesus.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Covenant of Obedience by Dr. Thomas Chung dated 13.4.14

This sermon is based on Exodus 20:1-19

From Genesis to Revelation we see God’s promises to man.  Those promises that were special were called “covenants”.  There were ten covenants.  All covenants are promises of God, but not all promises are covenants. 
The first covenant was made with Noah, the covenant of mercy.  Covenant of inheritance was made with Abraham.  God promised to Abraham He will bless all his descendants.  God promised to the Christians inheritance of God.

Covenant God made with Moses

This is the only covenant that came with a title deed.  This title deed that was written by the finger of God.  The ten commandments were said to be written in duplicate on two stone tablets.  Why ?  Because title deeds usually come in duplicates.  

Deuteronomy 9:9-16 about Moses receiving the ten commandments. 
Warning of God of the consequence of disobedience and blessing if we obey.  

3 Things when Jesus died
  1. God carried our sins
  2. He was made sin
  3. He was made a curse.

Four of the commands were about relation with God.  Six of the commands about relation with man.

  1. V 3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.” – God demands our exclusive worship and submission.  We should not worship any other gods. 
  2.  V4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” – again not making idols and worship them.
  3. V5 “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,” – not to bow before idols
  4. V 7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” – not to take God’s name in vain.  E.g Hollywood movies use name of God as curse word.
  5. V 11 – Works of God, He rested on the seventh day the Sabbath day.  Keeping Sabbath in respect of the Creation of God.  Psalm 92:5 – Creation testified to God’s works. 

Six relationships with each other

  1. Honour your parents V.12
  2. Respect for life V.13
  3. Sanctity of marriage V.14
  4. Honesty and integrity V.15
  5. Respect for truth and justice V.16
  6. Not coveting your neighbours V.17

Roman 3:20 – through the laws we are made aware of our sins.  The laws came from God.  Not that the laws are no good, but that we are sinners.  Roman 7:24 we are wretched man.  Only Jesus can rescue us from death.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Acts 4: Secret Recipe of Church Growth in the First Century by Gan Tuan Boon dated 30.3.14

1.        The believers preached the death and resurrection of Jesus ( V1- V22 )
Peter preached the first sermon on the day of Pentecost ( Act 2 )
Three thousand people believed and baptised.
Peter raised a paralytic to health ( Acts 3 )
He preached the second sermon to the crowd near the temple.
The number of Christians increased from 3,000 to 5,000.
  1.   Peter preached the first Gospel message on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 people believed
  2. Peter preached the second sermon after healing of a paralytic and the number grew to 5,000
  3. The apostles were arrested for preaching the Gospel and trialed before the Sanhedrin
  4. Peter addressed the Supreme Court and preached the Gospel message to the Jewish leaders present
  5. Despite warning of the Jewish leaders, Peter & John chose to obey God in preaching the Gospel
 It is imperative to share the death & resurrection of Jesus -- the essence of the Gospel message
2.       The believers prayed in one accord in boldness (V 23- 31 )
  1. Prayer was the first reaction of the early Christians to a crisis
  2. They acknowledged the sovereignty of God and His supreme power over the universe
  3. They knew the Scripture and understood the current event was the fulfilment of a prophecy
  4. They presented the threats from the Jewish leaders to God
  5. They prayed for boldness and asked God to perform more miracles in the name of Jesus 
God answers the prayers of faith and makes His presence felt according to His own way

3.       The believers practise the sharing of possession with the needy ( V 32-37 )
  1. Christian communal sharing is not a doctrine in the Bible; it was born out of necessity
  2. Christian communal sharing is not communism: the former is voluntary; the latter is by compulsion
  3. The communal sharing is not meant to provide livelihood but to help those genuinely in need
  4. The communal sharing frees the apostles from the physical needs of believers to focus on preaching
  5. Barnabas-- “son of encouragement”  is a model of Christian sharing 
Sharing brings about unity of believers and fosters a sense of belonging to a spiritual community

These are three main points that drove the Church growth in the first century, we can certainly learn from these points.  The context may not be the same but the ingredients are similar and may be altered for effective evangelism in the 21st century.