#319, 16th April 2017
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Hi, Friend,
He is Risen Indeed

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me, He talks with me,
Along life's narrow way.
He lives! He lives! salvation to impart,
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.
-- Alfred Ackley, 1933.
We rejoice with you on this Resurrection Sunday as we thank God for our Lord and Savior Christ, who is risen indeed! -- Mike and Pam Sommer, Peter and Vivien Wade.

The Turning Point

Spare a moment to think of all the preachers who are still preaching after decades, and how they have to find something new to say each Easter season. It's not easy to fool some long-time listeners with a new title to an old sermon (a "re-bore" as one preacher's kid put it). They might not be able to tell you next Sunday what you've preached on the week before, but they can smell an old sermon from the back pew!

This year it will be 59 years for Vivien and me as ministers of the gospel, and we've given too many sermons and articles on Easter to count! Yet here we go again: my thoughts are on a passage in I Thessalonians chapter 1, where Paul commends the believers for their ready acceptance and sharing of the good news about Jesus.

He is risen indeed"For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1:8-10 ESV).

I've previously taught on verses 6 to 8, especially "followers" (verse 6: Greek is "mimics"), "examples" (verse 7: Greek is "types") and "sounded forth" (verse 8: Greek is "echoed"). So let's just focus on verses 9 and 10 this Easter.

The death and resurrection of Jesus was the greatest turning point in the history of mankind. There is a Christian TV program titled "Turning Point" with David Jeremiah, a Southern Baptist preacher. He encourages people to have a turning point in their personal lives, to exchange their old life with a new life in Christ.

This is the subject of verses 9b-10: "How you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come." The Message Bible paraphrases it in this way: "How you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead -- Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom."

When you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, when you "embrace God," you turn away from "the dead idols of your life." At that moment you tap into what Jesus made available in the atonement, "rescuing us from the power of the Darkness and transferring us to the realm of his beloved Son! (Colossians 1:13 Moffatt)." The spiritual gift package you received has to show on the surface, so your lifestyle changes, sometimes gradually, sometimes immediately. You start serving the living and true God. People will notice there is something different about you. People should want what you have. Religion has to be life-changing or else the church is just another "country club."

Notice in this passage the early church's emphasis in evangelism was on the resurrection of Christ and no mention of his death. Death without resurrection was and is a daily event, but resurrection from the dead is a miracle from God. A quick reading of the Acts of the Apostles will show that they did not major on the sufferings of Christ but always declared boldly and persuasively the resurrection of Christ from the dead (about twenty times are recorded). For example, Paul at Athens in Acts 17:18b,32: "Others said, 'He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities'--because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection... Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked."

Jesus said, the night before he was crucified, "Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19b). Paul wrote, "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:8-11, watch my video series "Dead & Alive"). -- Peter Wade.
This book explores Luke 4:17-19 and discovers how Jesus fulfilled his Father's commission for his ministry. We too have a commission from God to fulfill. Changing lives daily!  96 pages, $8.00 plus postage.
When you are settled in knowing you are in Christ and that Christ is in you, you will be living in the Book of Acts and doing what the Master did. Get this powerful book from our bookstore. 128 pages, $11.50 plus postage.


The Resurrection: Gravity Upward

It is only a repeat if you didn't read it the first time! Here is an article from our articles section by S.D. Gordon:

It was near the dawning of a new morning, the morning of a new day destined to be a great day. While yet dark, there come a number of women out of the city gate toward the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid. They carry spices and ointment. With woman’s ever tender thoughtfulness they are bent upon some kindly service for that precious body. They had followed up the burial and noted the arrangements with a view to this morning’s early service. Their whole thought is absorbed with a tomb and a body and a bit of loving attention. They wonder as they come along whom they can get to roll the heavy stone over into its groove at the side of the opening. Mary Magdalene is in the lead. With her in the darkness is her friend Mary, the mother of John and James. Others come along a little behind, in small groups.

While these incidents were occurring, all in such short time, something else is going on of a different sort. The Roman soldiers guarding that tomb had had a great shock. They had been suddenly displaced by another guard. The sacred Roman seal had been ruthlessly broken, the stone rolled back from the opening, and some one sat upon it. Their bewildered, stupefied senses heard the movements and were aware of a strange, blinding light. Then they knew that the body they were to guard was no longer within. That was about as much as they could get together. They hurry to town and tell the chief priests. Quickly the chief priests gather their clique to confer about this new phase. Was there ever such mulish obstinacy ? No thought of candid investigation seems to enter their mind. The way of covering this new difficulty is after all easy. Money will buy the soldiers, and they will do as they are bid. It took a good bit of gold. The soldiers probably were keen to know how to work so good a mine. And the story was freely circulated that the body was stolen while the soldiers slept.

Peter has gone down the road from the garden toward the city after having satisfied himself that Jesus was not in the tomb. He was wondering what all this meant. John, lighter of foot, had hurried ahead to his home in the city, very likely to tell the news to Jesus’ mother, his own new mother. Peter plods slowly along. There is no need of haste now. He is thinking, wondering, thinking. It was still early morning, with the sweet dew on the ground, and the air so still. Down past some big trees maybe he was walking, deeply absorbed, when — Somebody is by his side. It is the Master! But we must leave them alone together. That was a sacred interview, meant only for Peter.

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