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2017-12-24 Christmas Eve Candlelight Sevice

Christmas Sermons  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:48
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GRAND OPENINGS (5): OPEN LIVES (Luke 24:41-49) December 24, 2017 Read Lu 24:41-49 -- Steve Jobs who invented Apple computer, i-phone, ipad, etc. said, “I don’t ask customers what they want. My job is to figure out what they need before they do.” Henry Ford said, “If I had asked customers what they wanted, they would’ve told me, ‘A faster horse!’” So today we’ll see how the disciples got to preaching God’s message rather than their own! We’ll get to Luke 24, but first Acts 1:1: “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.” So the Gospel of Luke tells what Jesus began to do and teach; Acts tells what He continued to do and teach thru others. In Luke it’s thru His earthly body, now it’s thru the bodies of believers who have died to self, received His resurrection life in the person of the HS who continued Jesus’ presence in His followers. It was divine activity in incarnate humanity, now divine activity in redeemed humanity. This ministry soon landed the apostles in trouble. Acts 5: 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” What are they preaching? The “words of this Life.” What life? Resurrection life. The gospel’s about a totally new way of life. It’s not just a ticket to heaven – a prayer to get me out of hell and into heaven. That’s wonderful. But Jesus didn’t come to peddle forgiveness merely for the sake of avoiding hell. He came to give life. Jn 10:10b: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” If all Jesus means to you is a fire-insurance policy, you probably don’t even have that. He came to take over your life –a whole new existence. Resurrection means original life restored. When Jesus raised Lazarus, he got back a life he had previously. Believers have been raised spiritually to a life that humanity had in Adam, lost in Adam, and can regain in Christ. Jn 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has [now] eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” That’s resurrection life. Provided by Jesus, accepted by faith, and transforming in nature. Preaching that got the apostles in jail. So they are miraculously released the first time only to be arrested and booked a 2nd time: Acts 5:28 “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet 1 here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” So what teaching had they filled Jerusalem with? “Christ and Him crucified”?! Yes – partly. But that wasn’t the offense. Everyone knew Jesus had died. To the Jewish leaders, that was good riddance. Jesus died? Yes. But it was the rest of the story that upset them. It’s summarized in Acts 3:15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” That’ll get a reaction. “You thought you killed a Nazarene carpenter. You killed the Author of Life – and God raised Him from the dead.” It’s all over Acts: “You killed, God raised; you judged, God accepted; you condemned, God acquitted! You’re on the wrong side of God and the empty tomb is the proof.” No wonder the apostles say in Acts 5:29: “We must obey God rather than men.” Their offense was preaching Jesus’ resurrection. Raised bodily, and alive in them thru the HS. He was alive in heaven bodily – and He was alive in them spiritually. That turned Jerusalem upside down. So, the officials beat them. But Acts 5:41 “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Persecution just egged them on. They were turning their world upside down and wouldn’t be stopped. BUT it hadn’t always been like that. Turn to Mt 16:13b: Jesus asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist others say Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.” What a confession! And they had it right: 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” “I am exactly the promised Messiah just as you have seen and God has confirmed in your hearts.” So, having seen it and publicly declared it, surely they are qualified to say to people, “We’ve found the Christ.” But jump to v.20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.” Tell no one?! But that’s exactly what they’re doing in Acts 5. They’re telling everyone. What gives? Why are they forbidden in Mt 16 but telling it everywhere in Acts 5? Because it’s one thing to recognize Him as Messiah and another to understand His messianic message and mission. In Mt 16 they hadn’t got a clue. Enthusiastic? Yes. Committed? Yes. Loyal? Yes! But in Mt 16 they were still missing truth! Had only half the story. 2 What do I mean? Mt 16:21: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” This is a panoramic view of Jesus’ Messianic mission as God planned it, as Scripture prophesied it, and as Jesus committed to it. It looks nothing like the disciples thought it should. They’re still in pre-school. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me.” “You know I’m God’s Messiah, Peter, but you don’t have a clue what that means. You’re no help; you’re a hindrance.” What kind of gospel would Peter have preached? He didn’t want the cross because he didn’t understand it. And he didn’t believe in the resurrection. He thought he knew better than Jesus, but he hadn’t a clue. So Jesus told him, “Get behind me, Satan.” “Your perspective isn’t God’s, Peter. It’s Satan’s.” His concept of Messiah didn’t include the cross or the resurrection. It would have violated God! So Jesus told them not to talk. BUT by Acts 5 the disciples are talking everywhere. Something must have happened between Mt 16 and Acts 5. What was that? Luke 24!!! Told you we’d get there! Now, remember the disciples did not at first believe the news of the resurrection. When the women made their report, they didn’t say, “Well, blow me down. It’s just like Jesus said!” Didn’t happen that way. They were still unbelieving. And when Jesus did appear, they thought -- ghost. So Jesus said, “Touch me. Handle me. It’s me – in the flesh.” He identified Himself by the marks of the cross. “Touch me.” Ever touch a ghost? Peter may have hesitated. Perhaps John was first. He’d believed at the tomb, and I Jn 1:1: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life” – “that’s what we proclaim to you.” Touch me! The disciples’ lives took a radical new turn. From one minute to the next everything changed. I. New Joy -- 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling.” The gloom was gone and joy filled their hearts – as with every child of God. I Pet 1:8b: “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” Just knowing we’re His brings JOY! We used to sing: “O what a wonderful, wonderful day, day I will never forget; / After I’d wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Savior I met. / O what a tender, compassionate friend, He met the need of my heart; / Shadows dispelling, with joy I am telling, He made all the 3 darkness depart. / Heaven came down and glory fill my soul, / When at the cross the Savior made me whole; / My sins were washed away and my night was turned to day, / Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!” Dour isn’t Xn! This isn’t the cheap-thrill, lasts 2 seconds kind of joy. This goes to the heart. This is joy that overwhelms circumstances, written to people being driven from home in persecution, yet filled with joy. Right after the apostles were arrested and beaten for preaching Christ Acts 5:41: “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” When Paul and Barnabas were persecuted in Pisidian Antioch, Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” After being jailed and beaten in Philippi: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25). Nothing keeps this joy down. Is our life contagiously happy? It should be. Resurrection = joy. II. New Bible – They had a tragic misunderstanding of the Bible. They had a Messiah. They liked that part of the Bible. But they had no cross and no resurrection. They ignored that part of the Bible. They needed a new Bible. They needed all the Bible. Jesus told them so. Lu 24:25: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” When you accept only part of the Bible, you’ve become your own authority. Ask the disciples where that got them! They needed a new Bible. And now they had one – one that included the cross and the resurrection – and redemption! Satan was walking with one of his cohorts one day when they saw a man pick up something shiny. “What did he find?” ask the imp. The Devil replied, “He found a piece of the truth.” The demon asked, “But doesn’t it bother you that he found truth?” Satan replied, “No. Not at all. I’ll see that he makes a religion of it.” That’s why religion kills. Half truths kill. Half truth killed Adam and Eve. Half truth put the disciples in despair. And it’ll do the same for us! Richard Niebuhr says cherry pick the Bible and you end get “a God without wrath who brings men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” He was describing the liberalism of his day, but it applies equally to those of our day who deny the atonement and a bodily resurrection. They have a half truth that kills instead of The Truth that leads to the Father. The disciples got a new Bible. III. New Message -- 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name.” In Mark 6 Jesus sent them out to preach. 4 They didn’t have it all together yet. You can preach without believing in the cross. Judas was in that group. You can preach without believing in the all the Bible, the cross or the resurrection. But you can’t get it right? Best thing you can say about Judas – he quit the ministry. The others eventually got it right. What did they preach before? Mrk 6:12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.” Anything wrong with repentance? No. It’s a necessary step in salvation. And it’s all they had to preach. But, you can be sorry for your sin and still not be saved unless you believe in the cross and the resurrection. The cross and the resurrection complete the message. They have a new message – “repentance AND forgiveness of sins.” There’s no forgiveness without the cross. The gospel is “that Christ died for our sins.” No cross – no forgiveness. That’s what the disciples were missing that they now got. The cross and the resurrection didn’t just happen! From eternity they were planned by Jesus with the Father to fulfill Isa 53:5 among others: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” I Pet 1:18-21. They have a new message, a complete message. “Repentance and forgiveness of sins . . . in His name” – because of His substitutionary death. IV. New Mission – So, new joy, a new Bible, a new message, and now – a new mission. This isn’t just for you! 48 You are witnesses of these things.” “You’re my guys. The gag order of Matt 16 is lifted. Now that you get it, you need to share it – everywhere.” Matt 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” “As you have become my follower, go make other followers. Share the Word. The prohibition is off. You understand the cross; you understand the resurrection and you know Me! Go tell the world.” Same commission we have! Can you imagine having the cure to cancer and not telling anyone? So how can we keep the cure to eternal damnation to ourselves? D. L. Moody saw a pix he loved. It showed a woman grasping a cross with both hands as she was being rescued from a stormy sea. But later he saw a far more impactful picture of a woman being rescued from raging waters – clinging to a cross with one hand while lifting another person to safety with the other. That’s the mission of all disciples – 1st century or 21st. “You are my witnesses.” It really happened; and it means everything. V. New Power -- 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.” What promise? The promise of the HS. Jesus says, “Having given myself for you, I’m now giving myself to you.” The resurrection life of 5 Christ wasn’t just for Him; it’s for all who believe in Him. What was the final line of His great commission? Mt 28:20b: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” How’s He going to pull that off? By the indwelling HS. Rom 8:9: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” If you belong to Christ, you have been silently, wordlessly but divinely invaded. The disciples were never again on their own. They were never again without the resurrection power of their risen Lord. The HS took up permanent residence, just as He has in every believer. That’s Luke 24. New joy, new Bible, new message, new mission and new power. Conc – So, back to Acts 5:41. “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” New joy that overcame all circumstances. Then Acts 5:30. They told the council: “30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior.” You killed Him. God raised Him -- in accordance with the Scriptures. They have a new Bible. Why did He die and rise again? Acts 5:31b: “to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” New message – repentance leading to forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things,” – [new mission] and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Never alone. Always in the new power of the indwelling Christ – the HS. So where are you living? Matt 16 or Acts 5? There’s only one way to change your address – Luke 24 – meeting the living Christ. G. Stanley Jones was a missionary to India, friend of Ghandi, great speaker. His autobiography is titled A Song of Ascents. It was actually a third attempt, finished when he was 83. His first attempt, never published, was too filled with little events in his life. His 2nd attempt was equally trivial in his estimation. The third time he determined to start with Jesus rather than work up to him; felt the first two times he’d been working backward from events to The Christ event in his life. In his introduction he says, “Christ has been, and is, to me the Event.” He tells of an African who after coming to faith in Christ and being baptized, changed his name to “After!” He was saying, as was Stanley, that everything significant happened after he met Christ. He’d been to Luke 24 and found a new joy, new Bible, new message, new mission and new power. So can you. Let’s pray. 6
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