The Promised Power Of Pentecost

When the Israelites were delivered from Egypt on the night of Passover, fifty days later they arrived at Mount Sinai where God delivered the Ten Commandments to them. This became the birth of the Jewish nation. For millennia following this, not only did the Jewish people observe Passover but they also celebrated “The Feast of Weeks” (also known as Pentecost) fifty days following Passover.

But on the first Pentecost after Christ ascended to Heaven, something amazing happened which was a game-changer for the new Christians. An event which became the birth of the Christian nation.

On that Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit was poured out on Christ’s followers in a way never before seen in history. Although this had never been seen before, it was the fulfillment of something God had promised thousands of years before.

  1. Promised

This blessing of the Holy Spirit had been hinted at when God first called Abraham, as He promised that from Abraham would come a blessing for all peoples on earth (Genesis 12:3). Jesus said that this blessing would be realized with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and then Peter tied the Day of Pentecost experience to the fulfillment of those promises (Acts 2:38-39).

  1. Commanded

Jesus had this empowerment of the Holy Spirit and He wanted all of His followers to have it too, so His directive to His follower is not a suggestion. Twice when Jesus tells His followers to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the verbs He uses are commands (see Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4).

  1. Normal Experience

For the first Christians, the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a normal experience for them following salvation. This baptism gave them power to…

  1. Initial Evidence

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is accompanied by an initial physical evidence of speaking in a language you’ve never studied. This is to be an unmistakable proof—primarily to you—of the Spirit’s outpouring. But the ongoing development of Christlike character is the continual evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

So what’s the controversy? Why do people spend so much time arguing this baptism isn’t for us, or for now? If we start down that path, what else are we going to say is outdated or exclusive for some?

Doesn’t seem much more logical to simply accept what God promised all His people?!

So here’s the question I would ask you—Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? If not, why not?

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Inside & Outside

When God was about to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, the last event that displayed His power is now remembered as the Passover. It was the night that anyone who followed God’s command to sacrifice a perfect lamb and apply the lamb’s blood to the doorposts of their house was spared His judgment. In other words, His judgment passed over that house.

How did an Israelite family know that God’s judgment had passed over them? Quite simply, their firstborn child was still alive the next morning.

Jesus described Himself as not only the sacrificial Lamb and the saving Blood, but He also said, “I am the Door.” When we place our faith in what Jesus did for us on the Cross, His blood is applied to our heart, we enter in His door and we are safe from God’s judgment.

But how do we know that God’s judgment has passed over us? Are there any visible signs?

Actually, God gives us two assurances that we have been saved from His judgment:

  1. The inner witness of the Holy Spirit
  2. The outward evidence of our new life in Jesus

The Apostle Paul talked about his inner turmoil when he tried to live a life he could control (note the prevalence of me, I, and my, and the absence of any mention of Jesus in Romans 7:14-24). His bottom line conclusion—O what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

But then he discovers the power of Christ: Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord, and as a result of this he discovers…

  • there is no more condemnation
  • there is no more death
  • there is no more hostility
  • there is no more fear
  • there is now life
  • there is now freedom
  • there is now assurance of God’s love

How? By the Holy Spirit’s inner witness in his heart (see Romans 8).

With this inner witness, a new lifestyle (the outward evidence) begins to show, as Paul begins to live a brand new life. This brand new life on the inside shows on the outside. Paul says it’s a life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

So here’s the new cycle for a Christian that an assurance of salvation from God’s judgment, and gives an encouragement to live a life that glorifies Jesus our Savior:

The inner witness of the Holy Spirit assures me of God’s love ➞ I want to live a life that pleases Him ➞ the Holy Spirit internally approves or corrects my outward lifestyle ➞ I continue to live outwardly in a way that is showing more fruitfulness …. and on and on and on it goes. 

All for the glory of God!

If you are a Christian, do you have that inner assurance? If you do, are you acting on it outwardly so that people can see the difference Jesus has made in your life?

Does Your Life Have A “BC/AD” Split?

Today we live in 2017 AD. But 1800 years ago the A.D. stood for “Anno Diocletiani” which means “the year of Diocletian,” a ruthless, anti-Christian Roman emperor. In 525 AD, a monk named Dionysius proposed changing the A.D. to “Anno Domini” which means “the year of our Lord,” referring to the Advent of Jesus Christ. Then to mark the dates of the calendar before Christ’s birth properly, the “B.C.” (before Christ) period was introduced.

But BC/AD is just a dating system. There is no such thing as “BC”—there has never been a time before Christ! He has always been! Throughout what we now refer to as the Old Testament (or the BC period),  Jesus is constantly revealing Himself through little hints here and there, but when He comes to earth as a Man, all the hints become a bright, blazing, unmistakable Truth!

Just like Dionysius came up with a new dating system based on the Advent of Jesus, the Israelites had a new starting point marked by the Passover (see Exodus 12:1-7). Everything from this point backward is reset and dates are now counted forward from this moment. Before this time they were slaves in Egypt; after this time they were free and called God’s special people.

The “BC” Passover had three important components:

  • A perfect lamb without any defect (Exodus 12:5)
  • The lamb is slaughtered at twilight (v. 6)
  • The blood is applied to the door (v. 7)

When Jesus came to Earth, He showed how He was all three of those elements. In the “AD” Jesus is—

In both BC and AD God declares the same message: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The blood seals the deal and brings God’s forgiveness of sins, and His blessings on the life that is now completely His.

The word remember appears frequently in the BC, as in “remember what God did for you.” In the AD remember appears at a pivotal time—when Jesus shared His last supper with His followers, He told them that Communion would be a time for them to remember all that Jesus did for us as the Perfect Lamb, whose Blood is applied to the Door of our heart, so that God’s judgment could pass over us.

Do you have a Passover date? A time when the BC became AD in your life? If so, good! Keep remembering that, and don’t ever go back to being a citizen of anything but God’s Kingdom.

If not, today can be the first day of a new era for you. By faith you can apply the Blood of the Perfect Lamb to the Door of your heart, and you will no longer be a slave of “Egypt” (a picture of being utterly trapped and unable to help yourself), but a citizen of Heaven! All it takes is for you to believe that Christ’s blood purchased your freedom, so you can ask God the Father to forgive you of all your BC past, and then you can live forever in the AD with Jesus as your Savior and Master!

Check out this video where I explain this BC/AD system more, and join me next week as we learn more about how Jesus Christ bridges the BC/AD divide.

Passover And Communion

Last Sunday we began a new series called BC / AD, which is helping us discover how Jesus fulfills all of the “hints” we see of Him throughout what we now call the Old Testament. In truth, there is no such thing as “BC,” as there has never been a time before Christ. He always IS.

Yesterday, Jeff Hlavin shared with us a marvelous look at the foreshadowing of Christ’s work on Calvary in the institution of the Old Testament observance of Passover. In the “AD” period, Christians now remember what Jesus did through the observance of Communion.

Watch the video of Pastor Jeff’s message to learn more.

And if you would like to download the handout from his message, please click here → Passover and Communion

If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I invite you to join me on Easter Sunday as we continue to see how Jesus fulfilled in the “AD” all that was promised about Him in the “BC.” It’s going to be a fantastic morning!

12 Quotes From “The Cross Of Jesus”

The Cross Of JesusWarren Wiersbe’s book The Cross Of Jesus is a very easy read, but that doesn’t mean the subject matter is light. It is a sobering look at what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross, and it’s something at which we should always take a repeated look. You can read my book review by clicking here. Below are some quotes I especially appreciated.

“The Cross was a divine assignment, not a human accident; it was a God-given obligation, not a human option.”

“The fundamental problem lost sinners face isn’t that they’re sick and need a remedy. The problem is that they’re ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Ephesians 2:1) and need to experience resurrection. Religion and reformation may cosmetize the corpse and make it more presentable, but religion and reformation can never give life to the corpse. Only God can do that. ‘But God, Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ’ (Ephesians 2:4-5).”

“If our faith in Jesus Christ isolates us from those who need Him, there’s something wrong with our faith—and our love.” 

“Respectable religion that rejects the blood of the Cross can’t understand the message of the Bible, and it is powerless to deal with sin and sinful human nature. ‘Comfortable religion’ that avoids bearing the Cross and following Jesus is but a religious facade that knows nothing of true discipleship.”

“The Romans and the Jews ‘by lawless hands’ (Acts 2:23) put Jesus Christ to death, and yet their very actions fulfilled the plan of God. Even the wrath of man praises God (Psalm 76:10), and when sinners are doing their worst, God is giving His best. They were ignorant of their own sin. The enormity of their sins never bothered them. They nailed the Son of God to a Cross and then went about their business celebrating Passover!” 

“God still works providentially to create situations that give people opportunity to meet Christ, trust Him, and be saved. No one is ever saved by accident, for meeting Jesus Christ is a divine appointment.”

“Grace is simply the undeserved favor of God. You can’t earn it, buy it, or work for it. You can only receive grace as a gift. But that demands honesty and humility: honesty in admitting that you need to be saved, and humility in confessing that you can’t save yourself.” 

“The salvation Jesus gave to this man was personal. Jesus spoke to this man personally and saved him personally. ‘Assuredly, I say to you.…’ (Luke 23:43). God loves us personally. Writing about Jesus Christ, Paul said ‘…Who loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). The Lord Jesus Christ died for us personally. God’s love is shown to us personally, and God saves us personally. God doesn’t deal with sinners as part of a crowd; He doesn’t save people en masse. God saves people individually, one by one.”

“Salvation is not a process. You don’t receive the forgiveness of sins on the installment plan. Salvation is an instantaneous spiritual experience by the power of God when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.”

“‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:3) is a statement so simple that a child can believe it and be saved, but so profound that a theologian can never fully understand it.”

“A Crossless life is a wasted life. No matter how much enjoyment we experience or accomplishment we achieve, without the Cross our lives have been fruitless and in vain.”

“The question today is not, ‘Do you thirst?’ because all mankind has a thirst for reality, a thirst for God, a thirst for forgiveness, whether they realize it or not. The real question is ‘How long will you continue to thirst?’ When you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will never thirst again. If you reject Him, you will thirst forever.”

17 Quotes From “Jesus”

Jesus A TheographyJesus: A Theography is one of those rare books that I gave a “must read” designation (you can read my full review by clicking here). It’s impossible to share with you all of the incredible thoughts that are in this book, but here are 17 of my favorite quotes from Jesus.

Unless otherwise designated, all the quotes are from Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola.

“In Jesus the promise is confirmed, the covenant is renewed, the prophesies are fulfilled, the law is vindicated, salvation is brought near, sacred history has reached its climax, the perfect sacrifice has been offered and accepted, the high priest over the household of God has taken His seat at God’s right hand, the Prophet like Moses has been raised up, the Son of David reigns, the kingdom of God has been inaugurated, the Son of Man has received dominion from the Ancient of Days, the Servant of the Lord has been smitten to death for His people’s transgressions and borne the sins of many, has accomplished the divine purpose, has seen the light after the travail of His soul, and is now exalted and made very high.” —F.F. Bruce

“Jesus is the Logos. He is the Word, or the self-utterance, of God. So when God speaks, it is Christ who is being spoken about. When God breathes, it is Christ who is being imparted. The Spirit of God’s breath (the words ‘Spirit’ and ‘breath’ are the same in both Hebrew and Greek). The Second Testament tells us clearly that the Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal, magnify, and glorify Christ, Thus, because the Bible is inspired, it all speaks of Jesus. Again, Jesus Christ is the subject of all Scripture.” [The authors refer to the two sections of the Bible as the First and Second Testaments, in place of the usual designations of Old and New Testaments]

“Every word of the God-breathed character of Scripture is meaningless if Holy Scripture is not understood as the witness concerning Christ.” —G.C. Berkouwer 

“Your salvation was established, completed, and sealed before creation itself. Your Lord wrapped it up, won it, and came out victorious before anything ever went wrong.”

“What did He finish? He finished the old creation and the Fall. He finished sin. He finished a fallen world system. He finished the enmity of the Law. He finished satan. He finished the flesh. He put you to death and finished you completely. The person you were in Adam was terminated, swallowed up in death. And then He finished His greatest enemy, the child of sin itself, death. If that isn’t enough, He did something else beyond the rest: He raised you up in resurrection and glorified you.

“In Genesis 2:15, God commanded Adam to cultivate and keep the garden. The Hebrew word for cultivate is abad, and the Hebrew word for keep is shamar. These same Hebrew words are used to describe how the priests cared for the tabernacle of Moses. (The tabernacle was a precursor to the temple of Solomon.) The priests were to cultivate (abad) and keep (shamar) the tabernacle. In addition, we are told that God walked in the garden (Hebrew, hawlak) during the cool of the day. God also walked (hawlak) in the midst of the temple. The meaning is clear. The garden was a temple for God. Like the temple, the garden was the joining together of God’s space and man’s space—the intersection of the heavenly realm and the earthly realm. For this reason, Isaiah called it ‘the garden of the Lord,’ and Ezekiel called it ‘the garden of God.’ …Jesus Christ is the reality of the temple. (In the Greek, John 1:14 says Jesus ‘tabernacled among us.’) He is also the reality of the garden. He is the real Tree of Life and a flowing river. In Christ, God’s space and man’s space are joined together.”

“There are 184 verses in the birth narratives of the Second Testament. These 184 verses presuppose or repeat the words of 170 verses from eighteen verses of the First Testament.” 

“Jesus is the three shepherds: the good shepherd, the great shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd. Jesus presented Himself as both sheep and shepherd, the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. …Jesus died on the cross at the ninth hour (about three o’clock in the afternoon) when the Passover lamb would be sacrificed in the temple. Christ, the Paschal Lamb, was slain to atone for the sins of humanity and to open the gate of the true temple that promises God’s salvation for all people.”

“In the Second Testament, as the sacrificial sign of the new covenant, Jesus Himself becomes the sin offering of humanity. In fact, Jesus’ very words on the cross, ‘It is finished!’ (‘Kalah’), are the words used by a priest at the conclusion of the sacrificial offering in the temple. In the ancient days, when the Jewish priest had killed the last lamb of the Passover, he uttered the Hebrew word Kalah, ‘It is finished.’” 

“At His birth, Jesus received the myrrh. At His death, He rejected it. Jesus’ earthly ministry centered on alleviating human suffering. He was the personification of myrrh. In His crucifixion, however, He was bearing the full brunt of human pain, suffering, and agony on the cross. He bore our shame and sorrows. So He rejected the myrrh and the wine that came with it. Jesus took the full dose of suffering for sin on the cross so we wouldn’t have to. And He rejected the myrrh so we would be able to receive it.”

“When in a garden relationship with God, humanity had no need of the Torah, for we had the Tree of Life. The Torah was the Tree of Life reborn, and Jesus was the Torah reborn.”

“We need the whole Jesus. The complete Jesus. Everything He said. Every detail of what He did.” —Eugene Peterson

“The temptation of Jesus was a playback of two episodes in the First Testament. First, it’s a replay of the first temptation in the garden of Eden. John tells us that the three enemies of the Christian are ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.’ Each of these temptations was in play in the temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden:

  • The fruit was ‘good for food’ = the lust of the flesh. 
  • The fruit was ‘pleasant to the eyes’ = the lust of the eyes. 
  • The fruit was ‘desirable to make one wise’ = the pride of life. 

“…The temptations that satan leveled at Jesus in the wilderness struck the same three chords. Here is the ordered presented in Luke 4 (paraphrased):

  • ‘Turn these stones to bread’ = the lust of the flesh. 
  • ‘I will give you the kingdom of the world and their glory’ = the lust of the eyes. 
  • ‘Cast yourself down from here and angels will protect you’ = the pride of life.” 

“The Second Covenant knows the First Covenant: the Second Testament quotes from the First Testament more than 320 times, and that does not include times when biblical writers, searching for the scriptural reference, were reduced to admitting that ‘somewhere’ it reads thus and so.”

“Theology is nothing more than the Holy Spirit making His way through our brains, as the Scriptures make their way through our hearts.” 

“In biblical prophesy, the coming of Jesus is viewed as one event separated by parentheses that stretch from the ascension to His royal appearing at the end of the age. We are now living in the parentheses, wherein we look back to His first coming and anticipate His second coming. Put another way, the kingdom has come and will come. Jesus’ first coming inaugurated the kingdom of God; His second coming will consummate it. So the coming of the Messiah is one event separated by two moments: Bethlehem and the end of the age.”

“As followers of Jesus, we have a task before us. That task is to work for the kingdom. To continue the ministry of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit… to bear witness to the sovereign lordship of Christ… to embody the message that Jesus is both Lord and Savior, not just of our personal lives but of the entire world. And to find creative ways to manifest that kingdom where we live and travel.” 

Christ In The Passover

seder-meal

Last night Douglas Carmel (from Rock Of Israel ministries) led our congregation through a ceremonial Seder meal. It was absolutely fascinating!

First of all, to share in a meal that our Jewish brothers have been faithfully observing for thousands of years was very cool. I felt such a connection with my spiritual heritage.

Then to see how Jesus Christ can be seen as the once-for-all Passover Lamb was so eye-opening. As Douglas taught, images from Scripture came flooding back to my memory, but all in a new light: Like when John says, “Look! The Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world.”

Finally, to see how Jesus instituted a new covenant for us by His broken body and spilt blood was humbling. He became everything the Seder meal had been pointing to for thousands of years. As we remember this in our Communion services, I will be thinking differently about the cup and the bread.

I’m looking forward to celebrating Christ’s passion, His death, and resurrection in just a couple of weeks, even more so now that I’ll be seeing these events and these Scriptures through different eyes. Thank you, Douglas, for making the Scriptures come alive for us!

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