Sunday Worship Service - 4-21-19 - Easter, He Is Risen Indeed!
 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.  And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”  At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. (Acts 24:24-26 ESV) If Jesus rose from the dead, you have to listen to everything he said. If he didn’t rise from the dead, why bother listening to anything he said? Youth Camp: Who do you say that I Am? … To understand Love, must understand Lordship. Herod and John: 16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. John testifies to the truth, is like Jeus, Herod is puzzled but sees something. Paul and Agrippa: Paul appeals to the astute observation of Agrippa and his present belief to show him the truth of Christianity. Jesus and Nicodemus: Must be born again to see the kingdom. Illustration of the wind. Paul Addresses the Areopagus  So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.  For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.  The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,  nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,  that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,  for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’  Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.  The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,  because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”  Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”  So Paul went out from their midst.  But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:22-34 ESV) 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. Jewish Argentinian Athiest in Rome Italy at the Vatican. What he said about what they were taught about Jesus, the ‘Messiah’. What I said and what I wish I’d said. He lost his faith when he looked at the holocaust museum. Testimony of a hostile witness: Babylonian/Jewish Talmud (blasphemy and sorcery), Josephus, Celsus, others. 1. Famous Oxford Study by A.N. Sherwin-White. Always took at least 2 generations for legend to develop and wipe out solid historical truth. Eyewitnesses within their lifetimes, within the lifetimes of neutral people and enemies. Baptism and Lord’s Supper, earliest sacraments. It would’ve taken to the mid-2nd century for legend to accrue – which is exactly what happened in the birth of the apocryphal gospels, the gnostic ones that people have made so much money from recently. If critics look for legendary writings, those are the ones they seek. Not the ones in the canon of the New Testament. 3. the second-century pagan intellectual despiser of Christianity, Celsus: "after death he rose again and showed the marks of his punishment and how his hands, had been pierced. But who saw this? A hysterical female, as you say, and perhaps some other one of those who were deluded by the same sorcery" (apud Origen.C.Cels.2.55). Even allowing for Celsus's polemical intent in focusing on a female witness of the resurrection, it is notable that the appearance to Mary Magdalene was sufficiently prominent that Celsus knew of the Christian claim about the resurrection of Jesus for him to be able to take it up in this way. There can hardly be any doubt that the gender of the "hysterical" or "crazed" woman is important to Celsus's sneering polemic.' Apparently Jesus didn’t agree. Called to something they’ve never done before … to break through cultural boundaries and glass ceilings. Details not conducive to a good credible story (not made up by church after the fact, bad peter, mistakes by multiple disciples, women witnesses, jesus not what they expected, jesus not friendly to jews nor greeks - offends all cultures, resurrection not what was expected) 4. Greeks thought physical was bad, so resurrection was not only impossible but undesirable. Mainstream Jews disbelieved in a resurrection, as do the majority today. Extreme Jews thought resurrection was at the end of all things, not to an individual in the middle of history. Look at the other wanna-be messiahs. None of them were claimed to have risen, because that would’ve been unthinkable to anyone of that time period. We’re not the first skeptics. BTW, satan is and has always been the great counterfeiter (deceiver). He impersonates God and his christ with false gods and false saviors and false gospels. But, one thing remains … Jesus was vindicated as the true Son of God by God raising Him from the dead. 5. Most beliefs were debated and it was always a slow and tedious process which was always won by the most powerful. This was an inbreaking of an entirely new belief which revolutionized the thought of an entire empire, virtually over-night speaking in historically relative terms. And it happened through the weak and poor, the disreputable and the failures, the ones who had previously been thought enemies of god. It also happened in the gentiles which was also unthinkable to the Jews, which is why they tried to kill Paul multiple times, and why they did stone steven. It was not through powerful men. This was a complete historical “surprise”. Phil 2:5-11, early hymn to christ written within a few years after crucifixion. Deifies him. Completely new thought for jews. Blasphemy. 6. empty tomb – grave robbers. appearances – ghost. both = resurrection. And, jesus was different yet the same. he was heaven and earth meeting. 7. obvious. Most care deeply about the poor, alleviating hunger and disease, justice. The material world was caused by accident and everything will eventually burn up in the death of the sun. Why sacrifice for others if nothing will make any difference? But, if the resurrection happened… 1. This world matters. It’s not going to be burned up with the sun. 2. Muhammed, Allah, would never be touched by suffering, so other that he is emotionless, not moved by humanity, compassion is a joke that shows weakness. Not love your enemies, stab them in the back, to die for your enemies is the ultimate humiliation to christianity. Buddha, Karma, Nirvana, It’s all about detaching yourself from suffering, becoming the emotionless, seeing it as not real, no smiles, no frowns, greek stoicism, platonism and aristotellianism. Our God sees our suffering and it moves him, it moves him to act. See the face of Jesus with tears and sweat drops of blood for anguish. 3. Not only to bear your suffering but to redeem it so that it becomes your glory. Not in vain, but for his etermal glory. 1. All Things work together for the good of those who love the lord and are called according to his purpose. 2. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 4. What view of creation, what view of justice, would be served by the offer merely of a new spirituality and a one-way ticket out of trouble, an escape from the real world? No wonder the Herods, the Caesars, the Sadducees of this world, ancient and modern, were and are eager to rule out all possibility of actual resurrection. They are, after all, staking a counter-claim on the real world that the tyrants and bullies try to rule by force, only to discover that in order to do sothey have to quash all rumours of resurrection, rumours that would imply that their greatest weapons, death and deconstruction, are not after all omnipotent. You have NOTHING to fear. Satan can no longer bully you either. He no longer has anything to offer you for your allegiance to him. God doesn’t care for you. Look at your lonely life you pathetic loser. You can say with Paul “31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can bei against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? “ Paul was so convinced that he feared nothing and succombed to nothing, but poured himself out, filling what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Resurrection: A future that is not just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater. My delight in each member of my family was tremendously enriched. I looked at each one and realized how grateful I was for them, how deeply I loved them. Why? My joy had been greatly magnified by the nightmare. My delight upon waking took the terror up into itself, as it were, so that in the end my love for them was only greater for my having lost them and found them again. Samwise Gambgee: “I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” It will be an infinitely more glorious world than if there had never been the need for bravery, endurance, sacrifice, or salvation. Dostoevsky: “I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of mahn, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanigy, of all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to JUSTIFY all that has happened. CS Lewis: They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.