Intimacy Expands Our Influence

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Let’s say you are thinking about buying a particular book. Are you more likely to buy that book because the author says it’s good, because a book reviewer says it’s good, or because a close friend says it’s good? I think all of us give more weight to the suggestions from our friends, especially because they have nothing to gain from making that suggestion.  

In the same way, when someone close to us says, “I know from personal experience that following Jesus is the best decision that I have ever made. Making Jesus my Lord and Savior has completely changed everything for me,” it’s easier for us to make that same decision for ourselves. 

The deeper the level of our intimacy with someone usually means we have more influence with them. 

The Holy Spirit is as much a Person as Jesus. As much as Jesus dominates the pages of the Gospels, the Holy Spirit dominates the pages of The Book of Acts. 

Jesus told us all about the Holy Spirit when He was discussing His ascension. He wasn’t going to leave us as orphans, but told us of the intimate connection the Spirit would make for us. For instance, Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever—the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16-17). 

Notice that Jesus considers the Holy Spirit an irreplaceable and coequal part of the Godhead—I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor (see also Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 10:21; Matthew 28:19).  

The word Jesus uses for Counselor is parakletos. This means One who comes alongside to help us. I like all the words the Amplified Bible uses: “Comforter—Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby.” Indeed, Luke records numerous instances where the Holy Spirit is alongside Christians to strengthen and encourage them (for instance: Acts 4:8, 6:10, 9:31).

Notice as well that Jesus tells us that as a part of the Trinity the Holy Spirit is eternal: “to be with you for ever.” Because the Holy Spirit is fully God, He knows the end from before the beginning. His perspective is infinite, so He can guide us in ways that only One who can see everything could guide us. For example, He leads us to places we might not have chosen on our own (Luke 4:1; Acts 8:29), or stops us from going somewhere at the wrong time (Acts 16:7), or talking with people we might have overlooked (Acts 10:19, 11:12). 

Jesus also calls the Him the Spirit of Truth. He reveals things that we could not have perceived with our natural minds (see Acts 5:1-9). 

And Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a great Teacher, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). So we see the Holy Spirit helping us apply Scripture to our prayers (Acts 4:25-26) and to incredibly complex and delicate situations (Acts 11:15-18, 15:1-21). 

The Holy Spirit is not a force to fear but a Person to know ever more intimately. 

When our lives are transformed and expanding because of an intimate, ongoing, vibrate relationship with the Holy Spirit, we are witness (Acts 1:8). You cannot exhaust all that the Spirit has for you, so keep abiding and growing in that intimate relationship. Let it be said of you as it was said of Peter and John: “We can tell you have been with Jesus!” (Acts 4:13). 

I’ve said this before, but I’m going to keep on saying it—Don’t stop at salvation, but press on to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Then allow Him to transform the way you think, love, and live! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series called We Are: Pentecostal, you can find them all by clicking here. 

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Jesus In The Seven Feasts

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Douglas Carmel from Rock Of Israel ministries shared an amazing overview of the seven Jewish feasts that are listed in the Book of Leviticus, and how Jesus is the fulfillment of all of these feasts. Doug was born into a Jewish family and became a Christian in his late teens, so he has firsthand knowledge of both the traditional celebrations and the Christian understanding of these feasts. 

One of the things I appreciated was Doug’s explanation that the feasts were merely a shadow of the reality—Jesus is the Reality! 

Please check out the message he shared at Calvary Assembly of God. I encourage you to visit his website to get more information on all of the ministries Rock Of Israel. 

Passover—celebrated on the 14th day of the first month 

  • Leviticus 23:4-5
  • Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-20
  • Jesus was crucified on the same day that the Passover lamb was being sacrificed 

Unleavened Bread—celebrated on the 15th day of the first month

  • Leviticus 23:6
  • 1 Corinthians 5:6-9

Firstfruits—celebrated on the 16th day of the first month (or the day after the Sabbath) 

  • Leviticus 23:9-14 
  • 1 Corinthians 15:12-26 

Seven Weeks—celebrated 50 days after Firstfruits 

  • Leviticus 23:15-21 
  • Also known as Pentecost 
  • Acts 2:1-41

Doug called our attention to the calendar on which these feasts appeared. Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Seven Weeks all happen in the spring. All four of these feasts have already been fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

There are no feasts in the summer months, as these are the months of field work (Leviticus 23:22). This is where we are now, which is why Jesus told us, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). This is the time for us to tell others about Jesus the Messiah! 

The final three feasts appear in the autumn—Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. These are feasts that are still to be fulfilled at Christ’s Second Advent. 

Trumpets—celebrated on the 1st day of the seventh month

  • Leviticus 23:23-25 
  • This is also known as Rosh Hashanah when the shofar is blown 
  • 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

Atonement—celebrated on the 10th day of the seventh month

  • Leviticus 23:26-32 
  • This is also known as Yom Kippur—the one day of the year the high priest goes into the Holy of Holies 
  • Romans 11:25-32; Matthew 23:39 

Tabernacles—celebrated on the 15th through the 21st days of the seventh month

Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). Jesus is THE Reality and THE Fulfillment of all of these celebrations! 

(Check out all of the Scripture verses I listed above by clicking here.) 

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Faith Eternally Rewarded

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

One of the things I remember the most about my Mom is her fierce belief that God had a plan for my life. There were times I struggled in my belief, but she was tenacious in her faith on my behalf. I’m here today doing what I do—which I love doing!—because of my Mom’s faith-filled, persistent prayers. So if I could give two words of encouragement to godly mothers who are praying for their kids it would be this: Don’t quit! 

In 2 Kings we meet a godly woman who very much wanted to be a mother. While she waited and prayed for an answer to this prayer, she kept ministering to others. One of the men who benefitted from her gracious hospitality was the prophet Elisha. Whenever the prophet would pass through Shunem, he would stay that this woman’s house, where she and her husband had prepared a room especially for him. 

It appears this Shunammite woman is married to a man much older than her. They are without a male heir, so if her husband dies she will lose everything—no property, no voice, no source of income. Clearly this has to be a concern for her, but she doesn’t mention this to Elisha when he asks how he can bless her for their care for him. Perhaps she had resigned herself to the thought that her barrenness was a hopeless situation, but Elisha told her that in a year’s time she would become pregnant with a son. She must have been disappointed before because she says, “Don’t mislead your servant,” as if saying, “Don’t get my hopes up again!” 

However, God does give this couple a son, and that little boy is dearly loved! At a very young age, this boy dies suddenly. This could have been a time that anger or depression could have been expected. But not with this woman! 

Remember when we looked at Psalm 42 last week? The psalmist was grateful for the experience he had in God’s presence, but now that there is a setback of some kind he is struggling with the “Where is your God?” taunt from his enemies. 

When God answers our prayer, the devil loves to whisper, “Lucky break. You didn’t really deserve this.” So if anything goes wrong he can lie again, “See, I told you so!” 

This is where we must not merely listen to those thoughts but talk back to them. Perhaps the Shunammite said something like, “You’re right, I didn’t deserve this or earn this gift of my son. This is a gift from God’s grace. God promised this son to me and I believe God will preserve what He gives.” 

Moms, you must cling to God tenaciously in faith-filled prayer! 

This godly mother shows us what tenacious faith looks like. She took her son into Elisha’s room, placing him on the prophet’s bed, and she quickly sends word to her husband that she is going to find Elisha. When her husband asks what is wrong, her faith-filled answer is, “It’s all right.” 

As she gets close to Elisha’s home, he sees her in the distance and sends his servant Gehazi to ask, “Is everything okay?” To which she gives the same faith-filled reply, “Everything is all right.” 

When she finally gets to Elisha, she grabs onto him and says words that must have gotten Elisha’s attention immediately: “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” These are the exact same words Elisha said to Elijah three times on the day Elijah was taken to heaven. Just as Elisha clung to the promise of God’s blessing, so did this mother (see 2 Kings 2:2, 4, 6). 

God did answer her prayer and raised her son back to life. But this wasn’t the end of the blessing. 

Remember that a widow without a son has no standing in the community. To be saved from a famine in Israel, this woman and her family lived for seven years in Philistia. While they were there, her husband died and squatters took over her property. 

But in God’s perfect foresight and timing, this woman and her miracle son walked into the king’s throne room just as Gehazi was telling the king about the miraculous resurrection Elisha prayed for. The king is so moved by this story that he doesn’t just restore her land, but he orders the squatters to pay back to her all of the income they earned from her land during the time she was away! 

Not just restoration, but blessings beyond imagining (see 2 Kings 8:1-6). 

We don’t know who wrote Psalm 116, but it very well could have been this boy who was raised to life. The opening verses talk about God’s deliverance from death, but then the psalm says, “I serve you just as my mother did” (v. 16). 

This woman’s tenacious faith resulted in immediate provision for her, a legacy of faith in her son, and a testimony that is still encouraging us 3000 years later! 

So let me repeat this to godly mothers who are praying for their families: Don’t quit! There are eternal testimonies and rewards coming that you cannot even perceive! 

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Talk Back To Your Thoughts

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Do you talk to yourself? 

Of course you do. We all talk to ourselves: it’s called “thinking.” 

But do you talk out loud when you talk to yourself? 

An unhealthy habit for most of us is that our thoughts are only a one-way monologue. That is, we are listening to our thoughts but we are not talking back to them. As a result, everything negative we’ve heard from our enemies is bouncing around in our heads. The more we hear it, the more likely we are to believe it. 

In Psalm 42, we hear from a psalmist who is longing to experience God’s presence but at the same time there’s a nagging thought implanted by skeptics: “Where is your God?” The psalmist reminisces how it used to be, which means there is a nagging doubt in his mind that it may never be like that again. 

But finally, the psalmist does the mentally healthy thing: he talks back to his thoughts. He asks himself a question and then he gives a new response—a response that is hope-filled instead of doubt-plagued. 

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You. (Psalm 42:5-6) 

When the nagging thought of “Where is your God?” comes up again just a couple of verses later, he doesn’t linger or brood over this doubt-inducing thought but immediately talks back to that negative voice with hope-filled words (vv. 10-11). 

The devil has a singular agenda: to separate you from God. He does this through lies and doubts. Jesus told us the devil’s native language is lies: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). 

The Bible tells us that the devil can also put thoughts and desires in our hearts, but they are all lies (see John 13:2; Acts 5:3). 

We cannot let these lies go unchallenged, so here’s our battle strategy: 

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons of flesh and blood, but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, inasmuch as we refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ—the Messiah, the Anointed One. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 AMP) 

There are five questions we need to use to talk to ourselves about the thoughts we hear: 

  1. Is this thought unbiblical? (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  2. Does this thought rob God of the glory due His name (Psalm 29:1-11)? 
  3. Does this thought stifle my love for God or others (Mark 12:28-31)? 
  4. If I linger on this thought, does it rob me of peace (Isaiah 26:3-4)? 
  5. Does this thought make me apathetic toward sin (Genesis 4:7)? 

(Check out all of the above verses by clicking here.)

If we answer “yes” to any of these questions, we must capture that thought and put it to death, which requires the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Because of what Jesus has done for us on the Cross, every promise in God’s Word is “yes and amen” in Jesus, and therefore is an invincible weapon against lying thoughts (2 Corinthians 1:20). 

Here’s how we use those promises: 

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb AND by the word of their testimony. (Revelation 12:10-11)

Listen to your thoughts, but don’t listen too long before you start to challenge them with these five questions. Then demolish those lies—triumph over them by the blood of the Lamb and your spoken testimony. Speak the truth out loud for all to hear. 

This is part 4 in our series on a Christian’s mental health. If you’ve missed any of the other messages I’ve shared, you can find them all by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Unity Enhances Our Witness

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Last week we mentioned that one of the things the Holy Spirit did after the Day of Pentecost was to unite individual Christians into the Church. In a world divided by religious and political factions, the unity of the Christians set them apart. Is our culture any different? Of course not! So the unity that the Holy Spirit brings is just as vital today. 

In Psalm 133, David longs for this unity among believers. This psalm is in the collection of “Songs of Ascent.” That means that pilgrims to Jerusalem sang these songs as they literally went up the hill to Jerusalem. Psalm 133 opens with David singing, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity” (v. 1). 

Maybe David thought back to the time when people were joining him to give him support as king—David went out to meet them and said to them, “If you have come peaceably to me to help me, my heart shall be knit to you” (1 Chronicles 12:17 AMP). In the next two verses of Psalm 133, David explains how this unity from being knit together is seen as a blessing. 

Last week, we talked about the blessing of peace the priests pronounced on the people. That word for “peace” is shalom which could be defined as “nothing missing.” But couldn’t we also say that shalom is “no one missing”? Yes, because each and every part of the Body of Christ is vital and indispensable! 

We see this same unity when the followers of Jesus were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:1 says these Christians were “all together” (or some translations say “one accord”). This is one word in Greek (homothumadon) which describes the beauty of unity. One Greek dictionary defines this word,  “The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ’s church.”

This picture of a majestic musical is further amplified in the next verses of Acts 2 where people from all over the world heard these Christians praising God in their own native tongues. Luke goes on to use homothumadon again and again throughout Acts to show what a powerful testimony their unity was to the watching world.  

Paul emphasized the need for unity in the Church when he wrote—

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6) 

How does the Holy Spirit help us handle our differences and keep this unity? We first need the Spirit’s help to distinguish whether it’s a biblical, unbiblical, or non-biblical issue. 

  • Biblical issues must send us back to the Bible to find the truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 
  • Unbiblical issues—where a brother or sister is living in a way contrary to Scripture—call on us to speak the truth in love and correct in love only after allowing the Holy Spirit to examine our own lives (Ephesians 4:15; Matthew 7:1-5; James 5:19-20). Notice that we are to do this with fellow brothers and sisters, not with those outside the Church.  
  • Non-biblical issues are the trickiest. These are issues over which we should immediately stop fighting as we defer to the weakest brother or sister (Romans 12:10, 14:19-21).  

(I wrote much more about biblical, unbiblical, and non-biblical issues here, and how to correctly apply the principle of confrontation here.)

The Church needs this unity today. We need to be in “one accord.” In a world divided by religious and political factions, our unity enhances our witness.

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal, you can check them all out by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

God’s Blessing Empowers Our Witness

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Last week we learned that we have a job to do. If we want to see Jesus come back to take us Home, we need to share the Good News with everyone. Jesus said that we didn’t have to obey Him in this Great Commission by ourselves, but we can go in His authority and with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). 

In Acts 1:8 notice that Jesus said we are “be My witnesses.” This isn’t an action first, but they are actions that spring out of who we are. So we need to ask: How are we to be His witnesses? Answer: By being blessed by God! 

God has desired that we know the blessing of His presence since the very beginning. He instructed the priests to bless the people with these words: 

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

The Hebrew word for “peace” in this passage is shalom. One of the most basic definitions for shalom is “nothing missing.” In other words, we are blessed people when we realize there is nothing keeping us back from God’s presence. 

If you asked someone in the Old Testament where they thought God’s presence was, they would probably point you to the Tent of Meeting or the Tabernacle in Jerusalem. But that was merely a foreshadowing of what God truly desired for His relationship with us. Jesus promised His followers, “On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you” (John 14:20). So if Jesus is in the Father, and we are in Him, that means we are also in the Father. In this position, we can experience the nearness to the Father that Jesus knows (see Ephesians 1:3-8). 

This nearness is our source of peace: Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you (2 Thessalonians 3:16). In this verse, the Greek word for “peace” is eirene, which means a soul at utter peace with God because it is assured of its eternal Home in God’s presence. 

Blessed people are abundance people. Blessed people have all their needs supplied so that they can be a conduit of blessing to others. Our increasing awareness of God’s blessing empowers us to be witnesses for Him. 

Let me take you back to the Book of Psalms. In Psalm 67, the psalmist asks for God’s blessing on his life four times in just seven short verses. Why does he desire this blessing? It’s not for himself but for others. Look at just the first two verses of this psalm: 

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us THAT Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.

Recall that Jesus commissioned us to go to all nations and that the Holy Spirit empowers our witness to all peoples. This psalmist is asking for God’s blessing so that he can be a witness to everyone. Nine times he says that he desires that all nations or all peoples will know and worship the Most High God. 

God’s blessing on His people is really SO THAT all peoples and nations can see His blessing and turn to Him. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is to remind us that we are indeed blessed in Jesus, and that we have a mission to fulfill in taking that blessing to others. 

The Holy Spirit positions us to be blessed in Christ. This blessing empowers us to be a witness to all peoples so that they can come to God through Jesus. 

It is good for us to pray for the Spirit’s blessing on our lives so that we can BE a blessing to all nations and peoples. 

If you would like to check out all of the other messages in our series called We Are: Pentecostal, please click here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

We Are: Pentecostal

Pentecost for over 1500 years was a celebration in Jerusalem that brought in Jews from all over the world. But on the Day of Pentecost which came just ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven, the meaning of Pentecost was forever changed! 

Followers of Jesus—now empowered by an infilling of the Holy Spirit—began to take the good news of Jesus all over the world. These Spirit-filled Christians preached the Gospel and won converts to Christ even among hostile crowds, performed miracles and wonders, stood up to pagan priests and persecuting governmental leaders, and established a whole new way of living as Christ-followers. 

We, too, can be Pentecostal followers of Jesus Christ today. We can experience an anointing and an empowering in our lives that turns ordinary Christianity into extraordinary Christianity! 

Please join me this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we rejoin this series. You can check out what I taught in this series in 2019 by clicking here, the messages from 2020 are here, the messages from 2021 are here, and the messages from 2022 are here.

Check out the messages in the 2023 series:

Finish The Race

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead and now holds the keys to Death and Hades! He is the undisputed King of kings and Lord of lords! 

If you were one of Christ’s disciples, wouldn’t you think it would be time for Jesus to take a victory lap? Maybe He could show up at the next meeting of the Sanhedrin, or in Pontius Pilate’s courtroom, or King Herod Antipas’ throne room. You can almost hear their longing for this when they asked Jesus, “Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). 

Jesus answered that question by saying, “Your race is just now beginning!” You see, Christ’s resurrection wasn’t the end of the race, but an important—absolutely indispensable—part of our ongoing race. “I will be raised back to life again” was a bold claim, but it wasn’t the final bold claim. There is one more for us to consider. 

The resurrection of Jesus is our assurance that what Jesus says He will do, He will do. One of the things He promised is, “I am going to prepare a place for you and I will come back to get you” (John 14:1-3). The place Jesus has prepared for us is the end of our race—the finish line for which every Christian should be longing. 

The disciples asked Jesus how they could know when His return was getting closer. He gave them a lot of things to watch for, but He concluded by saying, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and THEN the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). 

In order for us to go Home, the whole world—people in all nations—have to hear the Good News of the Kingdom of God. 

This is our ongoing race. 

This is also a task that Jesus doesn’t expect us to run in our own strength. He promised to send us the Holy Spirit to equip us and empower us to obey this mandate of worldwide evangelism. 

In one of the boldest claims of all, Jesus says He has ultimate authority, and that He is commissioning us to use His authority for the express purpose of our missionary work to all nations. Notice the “therefore” which indicates what we are to do with His authority—

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. … But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8) 

The apostle Paul appreciated this analogy of running a race. Just before it was time for Paul to go Home, he told his friend Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). 

Earlier in his life, Paul used a running example when he wrote to the Christians at Corinth—

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Paul gives us three don’ts and three dos in this passage:

  • Don’t fail to train, don’t run aimlessly, don’t get disqualified by focusing on the temporal 
  • Do go into strict training, do stay focused on the eternal, do run for the prize of hearing Jesus say, “Well done!” 

Do you want to go Home? Do you want Jesus to come again to take all of His children Home? Then finish the race of telling everyone in the whole world the Good News about Jesus. 

If you’ve missed any of the bold claims we have unpacked during this series, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Reason To Hope And To Proclaim

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

On Resurrection Sunday, Christians celebrate an event that is the foundational truth for all of the Bible and for the Christian faith which springs from the Scriptures: The resurrection of Jesus. 

If Jesus wasn’t resurrected, this is a terrible, cruel lie we are perpetuating. If Jesus was resurrected, we have been given the key to eternal life. No one has ever made the bold claims that Jesus made about His own death and resurrection and then backed them up! 

On the Sunday morning after Jesus was crucified, some women arrived at His tomb to finish preparing His body for burial, but Luke records something fascinating: “They did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:1-8). 

Think about this in a modern-day setting. If you were at the bedside of your loved one when they took their last breath, if you heard the doctor pronounce them dead, if you were at the funeral and saw their body in a casket, and if you saw that casket closed, sealed, and lowered into the ground, you would have every reason to find a body if that casket were re-opened. 

These women were on Golgotha when Jesus died, they saw the Roman soldiers verify His death, they witnessed Joseph and Nicodemus wrap His body in linen strips, and they saw His body placed in a sealed tomb. 

Then when there is no body where the dead body of Jesus is expected, there are only three possibilities: 

(1) He never died

Medical experts have concluded that the horrific torture that Jesus endured prior to even being crucified resulted in significant blood loss, and would have put His body in shock. Then the strain on His weakened body during crucifixion would have resulted in His body experiencing either pleural effusion or cardiac effusion, which is attested to by the flow of “blood and water” from Jesus’ dead body when His side was pierced by a Roman spear (John 19:34). 

The dead body of Jesus was thoroughly examined by both the Romans who conducted the crucifixion and His friends who prepared His body for burial (Mark 15:43-45; John 19:38-40). And two contemporary historians—Tacitus and Josephus—who were unfriendly to the cause of Christianity both attested to Christ’s death by crucifixion. 

(2) His body was stolen

The Sanhedrin was so insistent on Jesus being crucified, they wouldn’t have left the “conspiracy” option open. So they convinced Governor Pontius Pilate to allow them to both seal the tomb and place a group of soldiers outside the tomb to guard it (Matthew 27:62-66). It is highly unlikely that the disciples who fled before the temple guard and who were now locked in a room because they were quaking with fear would somehow gain the courage to undertake a mission to steal Jesus’ body. Nor is it likely that they could have escaped the notice of the highly-trained Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. 

(3) He was resurrected 

The angels at the empty tomb reminded the women that Jesus had foretold both the manner of His death and the assurance of His resurrection. Jesus described His death in detail multiple times, including such key details as His death would be in Jerusalem, the religious leaders would pronounce a death sentence but the Romans would crucify Him, and that He would be resurrected three days later (Matthew 20:18-19; Luke 18:31-33). In addition, Paul tells us that there were hundreds of eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). 

Jesus said, “The reason my Father loves Me is that I lay down My life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father” (John 10:17-18). 

If Jesus foretold this and fulfilled this, we can also trust His other promises. Assurances such as:

  • He is preparing an eternal home for us and He will come back to take His followers there 
  • That He alone holds the keys to Death and Hades
  • And that only those who have been cleansed from their sins will be able to enter Heaven

(see John 14:1-3; Revelation 1:18, 22:12-14)

The bold claim that Jesus would be resurrected back to life is adequately backed up by the events on Resurrection Sunday! So now we can say that believing the bold claim of Christ’s resurrection gives us hope for the future and reason to tell others about Him! 

If you’ve missed any of the other bold claims that we have discussed, you can find them all by clicking here. 

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An Unlikely Convert

There is a man that we meet in just a couple of verses of Scripture. We know that he is a Roman centurion. I gave him an appropriate Roman name of Vitellius. I created a fictional backstory for this centurion, but all of the events are well documented in both biblical history and contemporary history books of the time. I have listed below all of the scripture references that you may want to consult, along with some quotes from notable historians. 

What isn’t fictional is the fact that the Cross didn’t happen to Jesus, but He came to make Calvary happen. 

Jesus said this about His crucifixion, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself” (John 12:32). That’s what happened to the thief, and to the centurion Vitellius, and to me, and to all who have acknowledged that Jesus is the Savior. 

Vitellius’ bold claim on the day Jesus was crucified still rings true 2000 years later: “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” 

Looking at Jesus who was lifted up on that Cross, we can appreciate the beauty of the 700-year-old prophecy about Him:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:2-5)

Which is what we celebrate in Communion still to this day. “And [Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:19-20). 

The way Christians live today can still lift Jesus up for all to see. Jesus told His followers, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). 

When we live this way, our lives become the aroma of life to even sin-hardened thieves and war-hardened soldiers.  

Check out this video of Vitellius’ personal experience—

Here are some further resources for you to check out:

  • The Bible verses that form the background for this centurion’s story—Luke 23:1-47; Matthew 27:11-54; Mark 15:1-39; John 18:28-19:34
  • Historian William Barclay wrote this about the centurions, “The centurions were the backbone of the Roman army. In a Roman legion there were 6,000 men; the legion was divided into sixty centuries, each containing 100 men, and in command of each century there was a centurion. These centurions were the long-service, regular soldiers of the Roman army. They were responsible for the discipline of the regiment, and they were the cement which held the army together. … A centurion was the equivalent of a regimental sergeant-major; and the centurions were the backbone of the Roman army.”
  • The horrific torture of crucifixion

If you have missed any of the other messages in our series of Bold Claims, you can find them all my clicking here.

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