Advent Angels Sightings #2

Please read Luke 1:5-25 in your favorite Bible.

Advent Angel Sightings 1_final (1)

(Image by James Best, (C) 2019, https://www.behance.net/gallery/82544295/Sermon-Illustrations-2019.)

There’s at least one thing very wrong with the mythology of Santa Claus. “According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December.
“Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to EVERY picture depicting Santa’s reindeer in late December, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, has to be a girl.
“We should have known… ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.”

https://www.favecrafts.com/Entertaining/A-Great-Bunch-of-Funny-Christmas-Stories

It’s strange that so many people make such a fuss about a mythical figure like Santa and neglect the historical person of Jesus Christ.  The gospel writer Luke was concerned with writing an accurate historical account of the life of Jesus.  To cover the subject as thoroughly as possible, he began with the miraculous circumstances surrounding the birth of the man who would introduce Jesus to the world as the Messiah; John the Baptist.  Our second advent angel sighting involves that moment of history.

CONTEXT: What we learn about Zechariah (5-11).  NT Professor Brittany E. Wilson has found in Luke a portrayal of Zechariah as an ordinary man suddenly caught up in a historic situation.  Perhaps you can imagine his disorientation.  Wilson identifies three markers in the text.

1 = His ethnicity.  Zechariah was a Jew.  In the Roman Empire, all conquered peoples were second-class citizens, but Jews were the butt of additional ridicule.

2 = His vocation. While priesthood normally earned a man some respect, Zechariah lived in the hills of Judea, not the city of Jerusalem, so the circle of respect was smaller, his service in the temple far less frequent.  Also, as v. 5 reports, Zechariah could trace his ancestry only to Abijah, while his wife could go all the way back to Aaron, Moses’ brother and the founder of the priestly line.  She had the better pedigree!

3 = His age and impotence.  Much has been said over the years about the scorn a barren woman had to endure in this culture.  But the husband did not escape unscathed.  Childlessness could be as demeaning a status for the husband as it was for the wife.

We balance these three observations against v. 6, where Luke identified both Zechariah and Elizabeth as UPRIGHT as the both kept God’s commands BLAMELESSLY.  Human nature has not changed in 2000 years, so we can assume that in Zechariah’s time as today, the UPRIGHT and blameless people tend to be overlooked.  The “squeaky wheels” tend to attract attention.  Also, God’s choice of Zechariah to occupy this historic place in His plan is foreshadowed by his selection by lot to offer incense in the temple.

Most of us ought to be able to identify with Zechariah.  He was an ordinary guy – why should he be visited by angel?  Being chosen to offer the incense was akin to winning the lottery; Zechariah’s focus was on that when he was blind-sided by an angelic visitation.

God’s messages demand a faithful – not doubtful – response.

  1. Zechariah’s response was doubtful.

As is always the case in these biblical angelic accounts, Zechariah’s initial reaction to Gabriel’s visitation was surprise and fear (11-13).  And, as always, the angel says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID,” but goes on to announce something surprising and fear-inducing (13-17)!

At this point, Zechariah had a decision to make: would he accept the angel’s message or would he believe and accept Gabriel’s message or doubt and reject it? (18) Using Zechariah as an example, let’s examine the continuum of belief.

– At the right end of the spectrum, we have BELIEF is intellectual agreement with and full obedience to the message of God.

– In the middle, we have DOUBT.  Doubt is an intellectual struggle with the message of God.  Doubt by itself is not bad, but if the struggle is either never resolved or is resolved with unbelief, it becomes a sin.

– UNBELIEF is at the left end of the continuum.  Unbelief is an active rejection of God’s message.  Believers can occasionally be guilty or mistakenly fall into unbelief, but are not characterized by it.  When it becomes chronic, settling into a character flaw, unbelief is the worst sin, the unforgivable sin (see Matthew 12:31 and Mark 3:29).

Zechariah’s response was a temporary form of the third option; an ill-considered decision to not believe Gabriel’s testimony.  It was an objection in the form of a question.  Otherwise the disciplinary act of rendering him mute is inappropriate; it’s too harsh.  Most convincingly, Gabriel himself condemns Gabriel’s unbelief in verse twenty.

Zechariah’s punishment is unique in this situation.  In the Bible there are five other birth announcements similar to this one.  In none of those cases, is objection met with divine discipline.

– In Genesis, the birth of a son is promised Abraham and he objected twice.

– In Judges, a son is promised to Samson’s father – Manoah – and he objected twice.

– In Luke, both Zechariah and Mary object to the birth announcements they received.

– In Matthew, Joseph did not argue with the angel who told him about Jesus.

Abraham, Manoah, and Mary were not punished for their objections or questions, yet Zechariah was.  Since God knows our hearts, we have to assume what is unstated in the text: Zechariah chose unbelief.

  1. Gabriel countered with discipline.

Gabriel pulled rank on Zechariah (19). “I AM GABRIEL,” he said.  As he was a priest, we can assume Zechariah’s familiarity with what we call the Old Testament.  He must have known the name Gabriel and its significance in Daniel (see last Sunday).  In fact, there are several parallels between Zechariah’s experience and Daniel’s.

He continued, “I STAND IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.”  This statement implies a place of honor and high rank among the heavenly race of angels.

“I HAVE BEEN SENT TO SPEAK TO YOU AND TELL YOU THIS GOOD NEWS.”  There are a couple implications in this clause.  First, Gabriel informs Zechariah that God personally sent him with this message.  Second, the message is GOOD NEWS, not bad news.  Gabriel could have said, “Hey dummy!  I just told you some good news!  Why do you want to argue with me?”  In fact, as Gabriel said in v. 13, this GOOD NEWS came as an answer to Zechariah’s prayers.  Why pray for something and then disbelieve it when it arrives?  We would never do that, right?

Gabriel administered a punishment to fit the crime: Zechariah was struck mute, unable to announce the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to him (20).    Gabriel specifically identified Zechariah’s sin as unbelief = “YOU DID NOT BELIEVE MY WORDS.”  To paraphrase, Gabriel said, “You did not believe my words so you forfeit the power to use words.”

In that culture as well as in ours, words are power.  The ability to speak to a situation, to make an announcement, to express an opinion, is a kind of power.  So the punishment of Zechariah is a kind of disempowering him.  The Greek word for mute can also mean deaf.  It is possible Zechariah could neither hear nor speak.  If so, this is a great Scripture passage for ASL interpreters like our Melanie!

God did everything Gabriel announced he would do (20-25), proving yet again God’s trustworthiness.  In verse twenty, Gabriel predicted, “WHICH WILL COME TRUE AT THE PROPER TIME.”  This is in reference to Zechariah’s loss of speech continuing until the birth of his son John.

There were witnesses of Zechariah’s speechlessness.  The same group of worshipers mentioned in verse ten were still there in verses 21+22.  They were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the temple and pronounce the customary blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26.  When he finally emerged from the temple, he was unable to speak and could not pronounce the blessing.  Zechariah’s punishment for unbelief was to be unable to announce Gabriel’s good news and to be unable to perform his priestly duty, a double whammy!  Notice how Luke really emphasized Zechariah’s being muted: HE REMAINED UNABLE TO SPEAK (verse 22).  Relying on impromptu sign language, Zechariah was somehow able to communicate to the people he had received a vision.

In verses 23-25 we see Gabriel’s prediction COME TRUE, just as he said.  Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth became the speaker for the family and she praised God for showing favor to her.

God’s messages demand a faithful – not doubtful – response.

          A new truth we learn about angels in this passage is that God deputizes them to dispense justice on His behalf.  Gabriel presented his GOOD NEWS to Zechariah and when the priest responded with unbelief, Gabriel dispensed a punishment in the form of making Zechariah mute.  So angels are more than just messengers, they appear at the authority of God Himself and wield that authority in human affairs.

A new truth we learn about God in this passage is that our obedience is not required to advance his plan.  Zechariah’s moment of disbelief did not cause God to stop, throw up His hands and say, “Well NOW what do I do?”  No, Gabriel immediately informed Zechariah the will of God was going to be accomplished.

The new truth we learn about ourselves in this passage is that belief ought to be an all or nothing proposition, but we try to pick and choose what we want to believe.  Consider this; Luke identified both Zechariah and Elizabeth as faithful people, even blameless in their obedience to God’s law.  And yet, Zechariah chose to disbelieve Gabriel’s promise of a son born to him in his old age.  Zechariah was guilty of sin by thinking he could pick and choose between God’s messages which he would believe and which he would not.  His punishment fit his crime and serves as a warning to all of us not to follow his example.

None of us knows why Zechariah chose unbelief in this situation, but the text makes it abundantly clear that’s exactly what he did.  Similarly, we sin when we think it’s up to us as individuals to decide which parts of God’s will we want to accept or reject.  That kind of nonsense thinking is what our culture teaches.  The Bible teaches that God is truth and truth is available for discovery, but not for us to determine it.  Zechariah became right with God and regained his ability to speak just as Gabriel had predicted.

 

Resources:

Unmanly Men: Refigurations of Masculinity in Luke-Acts, Brittany E. Wilson

Word Biblical Commentary #35a, Luke 1-9:20, John Nolland

Belief, A Theological Commentary on the Bible, Luke, Justo L. Gonzalez

Arguments and Miracles

Please read Acts 19:8-12 in your Bible of choice.  I chose the NIV (1984) to prepare these remarks.

Using a variety of approaches – from arguments to miracles – we must share the Gospel of salvation.

Even though a majority of Americans claim to believe God exists and claim to be “spiritual,” the numbers of those who believe in supernatural things like heaven, hell, and miracles have been in decline.  This is an illogical position to take, but accurately reflects the belief that religion is self-made.  It is illogical to believe in God and yet maintain the idea that His actions in this world are always along ordinary, natural lines.

Ask somebody if they believe in miracles and you will get an answer along these lines.

– An intellectual response: “No, I only believe in things I can perceive with my five senses.  As miracles claim to violate the laws of nature, I don’t believe in them.  I believe in science.”

– An emotional response: “I totally believe in miracles and they happen every day.  Just being alive is a miracle!”

Neither of those persons believes in miracles. I want to encourage a biblical response instead: “The Bible says that God did things outside the so-called ‘laws’ of nature.  These things happened to give glory to God and to give people more reason to believe.”

We will continue our study of the ancient church in the city of Ephesus by looking at how God used ordinary teaching and extraordinary miracles to get the Gospel of Jesus to Asia Minor.  What we can learn from this passage is that we must rely on God to use us and a variety of means to get the Word out to Sioux Falls.  The Word of God will change lives and renew our fellowship!  God has not limited this experience to ancient Ephesus: it can be true in our place and time as well.

  1. Paul argued with the obstinate.

Paul’s typical strategy was to begin in the local synagogue (8+9).  Paul was the “Apostle to the Gentiles,” but he still chose to reach out to the Jewish community in each city where he founded churches (see Romans 1:16; 2:9-10).  We’re told several things about Paul’s ministry in the synagogue.

– He spoke BOLDLY, “freely” or “openly.”  Paul was there to give them the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

– He argued PERSUASIVELY.  Paul was not a people-pleaser: he worked toward convincing the listener to repent.

– Paul’s subject matter was THE KINGDOM OF GOD, announcing – as Jesus did – that the KOG was “at hand” (see Matthew 4:17).

– This lasted THREE MONTHS.  Lasting that long indicates some level of acceptance at the beginning, but not much patience.

The synagogue time came to an end when the “religious people” in the synagogue opposed Paul.  This was not a mild kind of opposition.  The text explains; SOME BECAME OBSTINATE.  That word literally meant “hardened.”  The fault for their refusal to believe did not lie with God or with Paul; it was all on them.

So THEY REFUSED TO BELIEVE.  They would not accept the reality that the Kingdom of God had come; that Jesus was the Messiah.  And worse, they PUBLICLY MALIGNED THE WAY.  In Acts, those who opposed the Church invented slanderous lies and used them in an attempt to stir up public opinion against the disciples of Jesus.  This name for the Church – THE WAY – sounds unfamiliar to most of us.  It was a name once used to refer to the followers of Jesus, possibly based on John 14:6, where Jesus proclaimed Himself to be “THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.”

Meeting opposition, Paul changed venues and continued bringing the word (9-10).  Instead of the synagogue, he used the LECTURE HALL of TYRANNUS.  The Greek word for LECTURE HALL meant “school,” a refuge of sorts for philosophers to address one another and crowds of interested listeners.  We’ve no other biblical info on TYRANNUS, but evidence has been found proving he lived in Ephesus at that time.

Verse ten mentions both Jews and Greeks heard the word, so we can assume the LECTURE HALL proved to be a more public forum than the SYNAGOGUE had been.  What the enemies of the Church intended to be a roadblock instead paved the way for greater exposure.

Luke is careful to assure the reader that Paul TOOK THE DISCIPLES WITH HIM.  It is reasonable to assume this group included both Jewish and Gentile converts; the people who had accepted Paul’s teaching as true.

He held DAILY DISCUSSIONS.  One of the things that marked first century churches was their DAILY meetings.  They also enjoyed unrivaled success in bringing people to Jesus.  A coincidence?

The Greek word for DISCUSSIONS is the basis for our word “dialogue.”  However, this Gk word included both lecture and conversation-based teaching methods.  The means of teaching isn’t nearly as important as the object of teaching: God Himself.

Paul used the LECTURE HALL for TWO YEARS (10).  One indication of “success” at that location was both Jews & Greeks HEARD THE WORD.  Nowhere is the number of converts mentioned.  This implies “Success” can be measured in faithfulness, leaving fruitfulness up to God (as in 1 Corinthians 3:5-8).

Another indication of success in verse ten is that the ministry at Ephesus facilitated the spread of the WORD OF THE LORD all over Asia Minor, reaching both Jews and Greeks.  Having a two and a half-year stay and reaching an entire region was a great success!

  1. God used Paul to do miraculous healings.

The line of agency could not be clearer than Luke drew it in verse eleven: GOD DID EXTRAORDINARY MIRACLES THROUGH PAUL.  When these miracles were accomplished, they might’ve been misunderstood as having been powered by Paul or by special magical items.  These miracles consisted of healing from illness and deliverance from demons.  The people of Ephesus were superstitious and might have misunderstood Paul as being a magician.  Luke made it clear that God healed and delivered those people: Paul was merely the man through which the miracles happened.

To counter this, ordinary items were endowed with healing power.  The only thing different was that had come into contact with Paul.  They were not specially-made magic items; there was nothing special about the item itself.  The point here is that the real power came from God.

The word for HANDKERCHIEF is borrowed from Latin and refers to a cloth used to wipe perspiration from a laborer’s brow.  The word for APRONS is also Latin and refers to protective cloths worn by workers and also scraps of cloth used as rags.  The power was not resident in the cloth, nor did it come from Paul; all of it was means God used to display His power.

There are parallels elsewhere in the writings of Luke; in Luke 6:18-19, Jesus healed people without touching them at all.  In Acts 5:12, 15-16, people were healed when Peter’s shadow fell on them.  In the Bible, supernatural healings happened in just about every way you can imagine, with very few of the accounts agreeing in the details.  The emphasis is never on how the healing occurred, but on who did the healing; God was the One who did the healing.

One of God’s purposes in the Spiritual Gift of Miracles is to validate the ministry of someone claiming to speak in His name.  While Luke doesn’t use this account to prove that point, there’s no doubt that reports of miraculous healings created additional interest in a magic-obsessed community and gave Paul’s message added authenticity.

The result expressed in verses ten and twenty was that the WORD OF THE LORD – the history and teachings of Jesus – became more widely known, more widely accepted, and grew in the power of influence.

Using a variety of approaches – from arguments to miracles – we must share the Gospel of salvation.

One reason people might be reluctant to believe in miracles is they don’t want to be deceived.  Since the word was invented, claims of miracles and particularly miraculous healings have been used to trick people.  Take this story from Jokes4us.com, for example:

A Rabbi and a Priest get into a car accident and it’s a bad one. Both cars are totally demolished, but, amazingly, neither of the clerics is hurt. After they crawl out of their cars, the rabbi sees the priest’s collar and says, “So you’re a priest. I’m a rabbi. Just look at our cars. There’s nothing left, but we are unhurt. This must be a sign from God. God must have meant that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace the rest of our days.”

The Priest replies, “I agree with you completely. This must be a sign from God.”

The Rabbi continues, “And look at this. Here’s another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of wine didn’t break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune.”

Then he hands the bottle to the priest. The priest agrees, takes a few big swigs, and hands the bottle back to the rabbi. The rabbi takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap on, and hands it back to the priest.

The Priest asks, “Aren’t you having any?”

“No… I’ll wait for the police.”

http://www.jokes4us.com/religiousjokes/carcrashmiraclejoke.html

Paul made it his aim to declare the truth as persuasively as possible, but without manipulating either the Gospel or the people hearing it.  He did not want anyone’s response to the truth to be based on human salesmanship or anything less powerful than the Holy Spirit.

That should be our desire as well.  We need to adopt Paul’s motto in 1CT 9:22 = I HAVE BECOME ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN SO THAT BY ALL POSSIBLE MEANS I MIGHT SAVE SOME.  May we have that heartfelt desire to tell others about Jesus and may we act upon it with the same integrity.

RESOURCES:

O         Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary on Acts, J.

Bradley Chance.

O         Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New

            Testament: Acts, Eckhard J. Schnabel

No Foolin’

Easter

Please read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 in your favorite Bible.  FYI: I use the NIV (1984).

As we observed weeks ago, the conjunction of Resurrection Sunday and April Fools Day is something that only comes along every 20 years, give or take.  It seemed to me that this is my only shot at preaching on this occasion and the Lord gave me a passage that has elements of both Jesus’ Resurrection and April Fools.

The history of April Fools’ Day is uncertain, but many believe it began in 1582 in France when King Charles IX required a switch to the Gregorian calendar; the one we currently use.  This makes today the 436th observance of April Fools’ Day.

The change was invoked on April first.  People who weren’t informed of the change were ridiculed as fools and that’s how the day was named.  As the new calendar took hold around the world, so did the custom of April Fools’ Day as a time of playing pranks and practical jokes to have a laugh at others’ expense.

This morning we’re going to take a look at the worst kind of foolishness; rejecting God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ.  Don’t be fooled by lesser offers; find life in Christ.

Unbelief is foolishness: don’t you be fooled!

  1. Folks who were fooled crucified Jesus.

The first comparison of the passage: two kinds of WISDOM are contrasted: worldly wisdom and heavenly wisdom.  Heavenly WISDOM is only for the MATURE (6).  Who are MATURE people? They are people who have accepted God’s gracious gift of salvation by faith.  And they go further, continuing to learn by study and practice in daily living.  MATURE people have received salvation and are undergoing sanctification.  This WISDOM is centered on the cross and the empty tomb; it is summed up in what we have gathered to celebrate: Easter!

The “wisdom” of THIS AGE and the RULERS OF THIS AGE are both futile; they inevitably come to NOTHING (6).  Why are they doomed to failure?  Because they refuse God’s gift of salvation by faith and stubbornly insist on works to earn it.  To these people the message of the cross is FOOLISHNESS.  (Here is our first tie-in to April Fools Day.)  So it comes down to a distinction between believers and unbelievers.

The “wisdom” of THIS AGE fooled some folks into crucifying THE LORD OF GLORY (8).  The RULERS OF THIS AGE probably refers to the leaders of government and religion at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.  But based on how Paul used this phrase elsewhere, some scholars think he is referring to spiritual beings.  If the devil thought he could silence Jesus by killing him on the cross; boy was HE FOOLED!

Whether leaders or devils or both, the powers opposing Jesus fooled themselves when they guessed the cross would be the end of the story!  This is our second tie-in to April Fools’ Day.

Because they operate without the Spirit, God’s truth seems like FOOLISHNESS to unbelievers (14).  Here’s our third tie-in to April Fools’ Day and our second contrast.  The contrast here is between material things and spiritual things.

People who only believe anything their five senses can verify do NOT ACCEPT truths that come from spiritual sensitivities; such things seem foolish to them.  Spiritual discernment is a kind of “sixth sense” and is available only as the Spirit reveals it.

  1. Believe the truth and be saved.

God’s truth is quite different from the world.  It is for the spiritually MATURE (6).  It might help to think of the word as “maturing” instead.  That way, we realize the Christian life is a life-long process of growth in wisdom.

The truth is, salvation is the destiny of God’s chosen (7).  It is clear that the Bible writers want to say that God knew and chose those who would be saved, and that people have to choose to accept God to be saved.  It is appropriate to say that God knew from before the creation of the world who would receive His salvation.  I want you to take this promise personally: GOD DESTINED this wisdom FOR OUR GLORY BEFORE TIME BEGAN.  BEFORE TIME BEGAN God knew you and loved you and did all of this so you could be part of His big heavenly family.

The truth is a SECRET, HIDDEN thing (7, 9).  It is SECRET and HIDDEN in three senses.  One, God revealed the truth over the course of several centuries of human history.  What is promised and hinted at in the Old Testament is fulfilled and declared openly in the New Testament.  Two, it can only be perceived by faith.  The Holy Spirit guides believers into all truth, but unbelievers’ minds are clouded by their own choice to reject God.  Three, in verse nine, Paul quoted Isaiah 64:4 to show that God’s plans are too wonderful for the human mind to grasp on its own.  We just can’t “get it” on our own.

God’s truth is revealed only by the Holy Spirit.  Paul wrote; GOD HAS REVEALED IT TO US BY HIS SPIRIT (10).  The Spirit replaces ignorance with knowledge.  God reveals Himself to us very plainly in the Bible, the word of God.  The Spirit helps us to be sensitive to the words in the Bible, to understand and apply them.

The SPIRIT knows this wisdom because it SEARCHES ALL THINGS, EVEN THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD (10).  God knows ALL THINGS, revealing to us even the DEEP THINGS OF GOD by means of the Spirit.  This will sound crazy to people still stuck in a worldly frame of reference, but it is true because God said so.

Paul offers an example in v. 11: it is true of human beings that we can’t read each other’s minds.  THANK GOD!  Am I right?!  If we can’t read each other’s minds then it is impossible for us to know the MIND OF GOD.  Only the Spirit KNOWS THE THOUGHTS OF GOD.  It’s obvious we need help: that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in to reveal truth to us.

God gives us His Spirit to know His truth.  In verse twelve we find a second comparison.  On the one hand, we have NOT been given THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD. The WORLD is the system that opposes God.  It relies on human reasoning, senses, and even lies to dispute God’s word.

On the other hand, we HAVE received THE SPIRIT WHO IS FROM GOD.  Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is given to all persons of sincere faith.  True faith originates in, and is perpetuated by, the Holy Spirit.  The purpose of God the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to UNDERSTAND WHAT GOD HAS FREELY GIVEN US.  The Spirit helps us UNDERSTAND the love of God expressed in Jesus. Don’t overlook the word FREELY.  It is Paul’s reminder salvation is by grace, not by works.

By the Spirit we express SPIRITUAL TRUTH IN SPIRITUAL WORDS [variant text: “men”] (13). SPIRITUAL TRUTHS must be expressed in SPIRITUAL WORDS by spiritual people.  How can we possibly do that?  We can do it only as the Holy Spirit teaches us how to do it.

By the Spirit we show good judgment (15).  In our culture the word “judgment” has been misidentified as a vice.  However, the fact is that we must show good judgment in the choices we make.  The Holy Spirit informs our morality as it does our spirituality.  People of faith are to be more loving in word & deed.

By the Spirit we share THE MIND OF THE LORD/CHRIST (16). This is a staggering claim: we who believe have the MIND OF CHRIST! On an individual level, this measures our kinship with Christ.  We can think as He thinks, share his attitudes, and do what Jesus would do in every situation.  On a church level, this measures our unity.  We talk about being “like-minded,” referring to agreement on a particular issue.  But this is a more significant depth of relationship.

Our life with Christ is not an overlay on our personality, but a shared personality, a level of accord and maturity that will be unmatched by anything on earth!

Unbelief is foolishness: don’t you be fooled!

How do we take part in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  In what way is Easter our victory, shared with Christ?  What does God ask of us?

God asks us to believe.  He has already done the 99% necessary for us to be saved.  Our 1% is to believe.

We receive His salvation by faith, not by works.  It is an act of grace He prepared even before He formed the universe.

Salvation is free, but it will also be the first step in a lifetime of change, a continual pursuit of maturity.  Salvation is free, but we gladly exchange all the world offers in order to attain more and more to a life that follows Jesus’ example.

Receive this gift this morning.  Make it the best day of your life, one that has eternal benefits.  Receive the Resurrected One, Jesus Christ, and one day, you will be raised with Him!