Resurrection: The Message of Salvation

Today’s reading is Acts 13.

I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m reminded of it again in this sermon. In the modern day, we tend to believe the message of salvation is basically, “Jesus died for your sins.” Certainly, there is basis for that. We find it in 1 Corinthians 15:3. However, that is almost never mentioned in Luke/Acts. Rather, in Luke’s gospel account of Jesus and historical account of Jesus’s early kingdom, the saving message of Jesus is that He was raised from the dead. In Luke/Acts, the import of the death is that a person has to die to be raised from the dead, but the main import for the message of salvation is that God raised Jesus from the dead. Don’t misunderstand, it is not that Luke ignores the atoning and sacrificial nature of Jesus’s death. Rather, it is that Luke emphasizes that what indicates Jesus’s death is more than just another death among a long litany of people who have died is that on the third day, Jesus arose. It is through a man that was raised from the dead that forgiveness is proclaimed. After all, if He can be set free from death, He can set us free from sin and guilt. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 13.

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Second Verse, Similar to the First

Today’s reading is Acts 13.

Luke is doing everything he can to not only explicitly show the gospel going to the Gentiles, but implicitly demonstrate such a move was God’s plan. Rhetorically, Luke tells the story of Paul in a way that mirrors the story of Peter in the early chapters. It isn’t exactly the same (so I took some liberties with the old song line used in the title), but it is similar. Paul’s Acts 13 sermon is similar to Peter’s Acts 2 sermon. They even quote some of the same Old Testament passages to make some of the same points. Jesus is the true fulfillment of Psalm 16 because David did ultimately die and see corruption, but Jesus has been resurrected. Luke’s reason for these parallels is to show that Paul, who ends up working mainly among the Gentiles, is just as much of an apostle of the Lord as Peter. How do we know that? In this chapter, we know because Paul preaches the same message as Peter. We’ll see more of these parallels as our reading progresses. But for now, if you are a Gentile Christians like me, thank God for this clear teaching that we get to repent, we get to be part of the family, we get to participate in the kingdom. Paul wasn’t going rogue; he was following God’s plan. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 13.

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Tabitha: A Servant Worth Raising

Today’s reading is Acts 9.

Like Aeneas, the story of Tabitha is told to anchor our faith that Peter is still a faithful apostle. He isn’t going rogue. The Lord is with Him. That is why he can not only raise a lame man up from the ground, but a deceased woman up from the dead. However, I just want us to stop and consider how fascinating this is. In Acts 8, Stephen, a deacon and evangelist, is martyred. The disciples mourn him, bury him, and move on. In Acts 12, James, an apostle and evangelist, is executed. The disciples will mourn him, bury him, and move on. Tabitha, a disciple who makes garments for widows dies, and the disciples say, “Stop! We need her back.” And Peter comes in and raises her from the dead. This goes a long way to explain the most important role in the kingdom of Christ: Servant. Not apostle. Not preacher. Not deacon. Not elder. Not Bible class teacher. Servant. Oh, sure, those other roles are important, but only because they are a form of service. Sadly, today there is a whole host of arguing about who gets to stand on the stage as if the people who fill those roles are somehow the most important. It’s just not true. The most important roles can be filled by all Christians. Who will you serve today?

Next week’s reading is Acts 10.

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Yes, Sadducees, There are Angels

Today’s reading is Acts 5.

I can’t help but laugh when I read Acts 5. I think about the Sadducees and the fact that they don’t believe in angels (see Acts 23:8). So they toss the apostles into jail, and they promptly escape. How? An angel let them out. HA!!! It also just blows my mind that when the Council hauls the apostles back into their meeting hall, they don’t ask, “How on earth did you get out of the prison?” That is the question that would have been burning in my mind. The doors were locked. The guards were still stationed outside. The apostles were gone. How did that happen? Nope. They don’t want to know. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me, they still aren’t dealing with the question of how Jesus escaped a locked and guarded tomb. Answering these questions might have implications and consequences they don’t want to consider. Instead, they just get mad that the apostles were back to teaching in the name of Jesus. Wow! This is just a reminder to me of the world we live in. Folks who don’t want to believe, won’t. Further, they won’t give us a fair shake about it. They won’t ask the questions that really matter or consider the topics that are really important. They will continue to sidestep and focus on the parts they don’t like. However, that doesn’t change the fact that there really are angels. That doesn’t change the fact that Jesus is real and He really rose from the dead. That doesn’t change the fact that Jesus is my King. Like the apostles, I can keep spreading the good news about Him no matter how others act. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 5.

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Be Annoying

Today’s reading is Acts 4.

I’m going to go out on a limb today. I want to encourage you to be annoying. Yep. That’s what I want to provoke you to be today…annoying. Peter and John had healed a lame man who went walking and leaping and praising God. Then they started preaching the gospel and explaining the power of Jesus to heal that man and to save everyone’s souls. But then the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees come up and are greatly annoyed with them because they were teaching about the resurrection from Jesus. Of course, Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection. Thus, Peter and John annoyed them with this teaching. Based on this, I want to encourage you to be annoying. Now, don’t misunderstand. I actually do not mean that you should teach in an annoying fashion. I don’t mean you should purposefully strive to annoy people. However, we need to be aware that when we teach what the Bible says, there will be plenty of people who don’t want to hear it. There will be plenty of people that don’t believe what the New Testament says. No matter how kindly, carefully, and lovingly we teach it, they will be annoyed. When that is the case, we have a choice. We will either quit teaching or we will be annoying. With that in mind, today, I want to encourage you to be annoying. Go ahead. I give you permission.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 4.

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Where is the Body?

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Peter was certain David wasn’t strictly talking about himself in Psalm 16 because he could take the Jews to find David’s tomb. Are you catching the subtle test Peter is throwing out for all who were listening? It’s as if Peter was saying, “Do you want to prove me a liar? Take me to Jesus’s tomb.” That would have been easy. They could have questioned Pilate about who took the body. They could have found Joseph of Arimathea. They could have rolled back the stone. They could have produced the body. But they didn’t. We can find where Mohammed is buried. We can find where Joseph Smith is buried. We can find where Pope after Pope and Anglican Archbishop after Archbishop were buried. The world is littered with the tombs of religious leaders. Their followers pilgrimage to them year after year. But not Jesus. There is no tomb. We can’t find it because they couldn’t find the body. Praise God! Jesus arose!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 2.

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Who Was David Talking About?

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11, from the writings of David. When we read Psalm 16, it certainly seems David was talking about himself. Of course, in talking about himself, we recognize there is hyperbole; that is, exaggeration used to clarify or highlight the point. David wasn’t saying he personally would never die or that his body would never be buried. In reference to himself, he was discussing the great blessing of life God gave David by protecting him and delivering him from his enemies. God delivered him from Goliath, from Saul, from Absalom, from so many enemies who would have dragged David down to death. However, we cannot apply these statements literally and absolutely to David. As Peter points out, he could actually take the Jews there in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost to the very spot where David was buried. Thus, Peter says, David wasn’t actually talking about himself, but was talking about the ultimate descendant of his that God would place on the throne. That descendant would not remain in the realm of the dead. That descendant would be raised from the dead. That descendant, Peter says, is Jesus. Peter was not asking the people to believe Jesus was raised from the dead because of what David said in Psalm 16. Rather, he was asking people to believe his testimony as an eye-witness and that the people should recognize Peter and the apostles as valid eye-witnesses because of the amazing miracles that had surrounded their preaching on that day. He is quoting David in Psalm 16 to say, “I know what I’m saying about Jesus sounds odd, but we should have known something like this would happen. David said it would. Believe David. Believe me. Believe the signs.” Who was David talking about? Now that we’ve seen Jesus rise from the dead, we know exactly who he was talking about. He was talking about Jesus. Believe Jesus.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 2.

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