I am truly blown away when I think of the saving power of God through His Son Jesus Christ, in his death, burial, and resurrection. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. We deserve hell because of our fallen state. Sin keeps us from a personal relationship with God. But God in his mercy and grace chose to save some. In choosing the elect, it is not done with regard to human merit. Look at what it says in Rom.9:11 “Though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call.” We need to remember that in election, God never sends anyone to hell. We do that to ourselves. Look at what it says in 1Pet.2:7-8 “So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense. They stumble because they disobey the word as they were destined to do.” This verse is a good example of God’s divine sovereignty and human responsibility. People are condemned because they disobey, but this does not occur apart from the sovereign will of God (Rom.9:14-24).
I am so amazed when it comes to the saving power of the Gospel! That God would show His grace and mercy on the soul of the lost sinner through regeneration, the giving of a new heart, and making us a new creation (2Cor.5:17). When all we actually deserve is wrath and judgement! It is beautful how God saves though the work of the cross. And this is the extraordinary wonder of the gospel as stated in 2 Cor.4:6 “For God, who said, “let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
” Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him”- Acts.8:2 (ESV)
As Christian men, those who are born again, we need to stand up! Stand up for Jesus! We need to be devout men of God, who live a Holy life, in public and in private. Like Stephen who died for standing up for Jesus, proclaiming truth, we should be the same way. In Stephen we see the boldness to stand up for Jesus, and the meekness to say, even as he is being stoned to death “And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice,” Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” – Acts.7:60. Stephen did not go down kicking and screaming, but had forgiveness in his heart. This comes from a spirit filled man, born again, who lived a devout life unto God. After Somethings In Jewish culture, to remain unburied was the greatest dishonor possible in the ancient mediterranean world. And risking ones life to bury the dead was considered honorable. Adult male sons,or those closest to the deceased, would take charge of the burial. And Jewish law forbade public mourning for a condemned criminal. These devout men igored the illegal ruling of the highest Jewish court to honor their friend. Take note that the death of Stephen was done illegaly and out of a burst of anger against the truth.
Like these devout men who buried Stephen, as men we need to stand up and lead our families in the way of the Lord no matter the cost. We need to stand up for Christ! As Christian men we need look to the Bible, as it is the only way we are to grow in our faith.
We need to stand up aganist the ways of this world, even though this is going against the grain, that is what Jesus did, and that is what he has called us to do.
The Call to return Home
“Turning from sin and receiving God’s forgiveness”
George Barna Research says this:
- 93 percent of the households in the U.S contain a Bible and more than 60 percent of the people surveyed claim to be religious, but we would never know this from the way people act.
- One protestant church exist for every 550 adults in America, but does all this religion make much of a difference in our sinful society?
- Organized religion hasn’t affected the nations crime rate, the divorce rate, or the kind of entertainment seen in movies and on T.V.
- The Avg church allocates about 5 percent of his budget for reaching others with the Gospel, 30 percent for building and maintenance.
A few things to think about as you listen to this sermon.
- When we walk in sin, what effect does that have on our relationship with God?
- Repentance should be every day in the life of the believer.
- For those who come to Christ through the Gospel call, Regeneration, Repentance and faith. We need to stay away from easy believism.
- 1. The rebellion of God’s people leads to fake worship (10-13)
- a. God called Israel “Sodom and Gomorrah” They had become wicked like these sinful cities that God had destroyed (Gen.19:23-29). Israel had become corrupt. (Read 1:4-6). This shows how rotten it can be, when God’s people turn in rebellion. The word rebelled in v.2 carries the idea of breaking a contract. At Sinai, Israel had entered convent with Jehovah (Ex19-20), but unbelief and turning to other God’s, growing corrupt in all things. Thinking only of self.
Note: Can’t we become the same way, running from God. Sin will eat you up! I have been there. God’s call was for them to hear the word of the Lord and to give ear to the teaching. Something we do not do when we are running from God. (2 Tim.4:3-4, talk of a turning from truth, we see that today)
- b. The danger here is the people were still bringing sacrifice. They were going through the motions. Their hearts were not in the right place. Fake repentance (look at v.11-13). This is not what God wants. Look at Ps.51:16 “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.”
Note: God does not what us going through the motions, playing church! Showing up for everything, but our hearts are far away! We will be like the church at Ephesus, read Rev.2:4-5. When we play church it is like “Trampling of my courts, and” vain offerings”
- 2. The rebellion of God’s people leads to separation from God, because of sin. (14-15)
- a. God hates sin (Read Prov.6:16-19)
- b. God will not listen to us till we get rid of the sin in our life. (v.15). And read prov.1:28-31.
Note: we see a picture of this In Is. 59:3 “For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.” We can be the same way holding on to sin and play the game. But till we get it right it is all falling on deaf ears.
- 3. True repentance leads to God’s promise of forgiveness (16-20)
- a. When we see sin as sin and that we have sinned against a holy God, there will be this desire to turn from sin and turn to God, and seek to do His will. Look at what it says in 1Pet.3:11 “Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”
- b. This is what God wants. Ps.51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
- c. Then we see God’s invitation for forgiveness “Come now” that is what God wants for us to come home. Through the work of the cross we can have forgiveness of Sin. Read 1Jon.2:1-6.
- d. Look at what it says in Prov.28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” God is full of compassion! (we see God’s grace and mercy) Eph.2:4-10
- e. Also we see God is Just to punish Sin. (19-20)
In closing: We see that God wants us to live for him in true worship. God does not want our fake worship. Let us repent and come home.
2. In this way he attested to his perfect victory over death and our spiritual enemies. It was not enough that Christ should die for us. In dying he must be a conqueror, otherwise his death would not profit us. Indeed, he suffered in order that he might overcome, Heb. 2:14, “That through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” This was shown and proven by his resurrection. This is the reason why Paul, after he had demonstrated by many arguments that Christ was risen, and then shown what was the glorious cause of it, concluded the passage with a note of triumph, 1 Cor. 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is true that Christ conquered all on his cross: there the battle was fought and there the victory was gained. But that victory was made into a triumph in his resurrection. Now his enemies fled, quitting the field. Psa. 68:1, “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; let those also who hate him flee before him.” He made a conquest of death itself, and it lay dead at his feet. Christ would never be known as a conqueror, except for this. If death had held him as her captive, where would his victory be?
From the sermon “The nature of Christ Resurrection” by Samuel willard
I have just preached two sermons on the risen Christ today. And I am blown away at the victory we have in Christ, and the life of our Lord and savior, Christ Jesus! I am reminded of 1 John 5:4-5 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” Jesus overcame sin and death for us on the cross, taking the wrath of God on Himself. Jesus paid the price for our sins, a price we could not pay. The only reason we overcome this world is because He overcame it for us, and did what we could not do for ourselves. He died and rose from the dead on that third day! So to the believer, that hollow tomb means everything. At first glance, Jesus not being in that tomb seemed like a negative to the women who came to prepare the body and to his disciples. But in the end, this empty tomb turned out to be our victory! Now we could have the new birth, walking like those who had been asleep spiritually but are now wide awake – alive in Him, living for Him, being that light that shines! Thank you Jesus for that empty tomb!