In December 1965, Chuck Smith became the pastor of a 25-member congregation called Calvary Chapel, in Costa Mesa, CA. Before accepting the invitation to become the pastor 12 of the 25 members were in a prayer meeting, seeking God about whether to close their church doors or not, when the Holy Spirit spoke to them by prophecy and revealed to them that Chuck would become their pastor. In a seemingly irrational move Chuck accepted the pastoral call to this small congregation. He convinced the church to modernize the interior of the building and elevating the platform area. They also agreed to pay for broadcasting his Bible teaching. Shortly thereafter he had to stop broadcasting because this small church could not accommodate all the new people he was attracting.
A few years later Calvary Chapel became associated with what is now known as the Jesus Movement. This association began Chuck's daughter introduced him to her boyfriend named John. John was a former hippie who had become a Christian and he introduced Chuck to a man named Lonnie Frisbee, a hippie Christian who would eventually become the key figure in the Jesus Movement and Calvary Chapel. Lonnie moved into Chuck's home, and in a few days, more hippies moved in with Chuck and his wife. People continued to come to the church to hear the Gospel message and people were getting saved by the hundreds.
Smith recalls, “As we were building our new chapel on the Greenville School property, one fellow would come by and say, ‘Chuck, it looks beautiful, but it's too small.’ We planned to build Calvary Chapel to accommodate 300 people. I always thought that a church of 250 people would be an ideal congregation to work with. The rule book I studied in seminary said that you can only maintain a congregation five-sixths of the seating capacity of your auditorium. So, five-sixths of 300 would give us a congregation between 250-275.
The first Sunday when we opened Calvary Chapel, we didn't have enough room. All the pews were filled. I thought, ‘It’s grand opening Sunday. Everybody likes to come out for the grand opening. Next Sunday we’ll drop down to the number we'll be more used to and live with.’ The following Sunday we ran out of extra chairs and people were sitting on the floor. I didn't know what to do. We went out and bought 50 more chairs to set up in the foyer. The following Sunday we ran out of chairs and people were sitting on the floor. I said, ‘I guess we'll go to double services.’ So, we went to double services. Within a few weeks we were bringing in extra chairs, people were sitting in the aisles, we were setting up chairs in the foyer, and again people were sitting on the floor and in the side rooms.
‘Well, we’ll go to triple services,’ It wasn't long until we were pulling up the extra chairs and sitting people in the foyer and in the side offices. Then we doubled the seating capacity of our auditorium by moving the walls out to the side. After a while, the church was filling up again. We were setting chairs on the floor and in the foyer. Then we started setting chairs up in the patio, and by the end of the summer we had 500 chairs set up in the patio every Sunday. Then we started running out of room in the patio. But at this point we were facing another dilemma – winter. The people couldn't sit out in the patio in the wintertime. ‘What are we going to do, Lord?’
About this time, we were told of 11 acres a block away from us. A group of Investors had bought it five years previously for $400,000. They were planning to make a good profit off it, but every plan they had was rejected by the Santa Ana planning department. These investors finally lost the property, as the owner foreclosed on them for the note of $343,000. Someone suggested that we buy it. I said, ‘Eleven acres? We don't need eleven acres. What would we do with it?’
He said, ‘We can sell half of it, but that's a good piece of property.’
I said, ‘How in the world would we ever buy that? The owner foreclosed for $343,000.’
The fellow said, ‘I think that if I offered $300,000 cash, she’d take it.’
I said, “Well, try it.”
He offered her $300,000 cash. He came back and said that she accepted it. I said, “You've gotta be kidding! Where in the world will we get $300,000?”
I would drive along Sunflower Avenue from the church and look over those big eleven acres. I'd say, “Lord, what are You doing?” I was really concerned and worried.
The Lord would speak to me as I'd look over the property and my heart would fall. He would say, “Whose church is it?”
I’d say, “Lord, it's Your church.”
He'd say, “Then what are you worried about?”
In 2013 Pastor Chuck Smith went to be home with the Lord but his legacy lives on. Today Calvary Chapel has about 1,800 affiliate churches worldwide, a publishing company called The Word for Today that publishes Bible study books, DVDs, and tapes, a radio station KWVE that broadcasts God's Word to all Southern California, and a Bible Colleges that provides a Bible education to thousands at its home campus in Twin Peaks, California and over 20 extension campuses worldwide.
This is just one example of what God can do when He has a Church that is willing to open themselves up to Him and the movement of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to be Lord of all.
The Birth of a Church
Today we are going spend some time in Acts 2 and look particularly at the events of Pentecost and what transpired on this unique day and then see what we can take away from it. Last week we looked briefly at chapter one and Jesus’ promise to his disciples that the Holy Spirit will come soon and empower them to go out and fulfill his Great Commission. Now in chapter two we witness the fulfillment of this promise as the Holy Spirit descends on the believers thus giving birth to the first Christian church.
Acts 2:1 - 12
Vs 1: The day is ten days after the ascension of Jesus Christ and the day is Pentecost. Pentecost is also known as the Feast of Weeks. It is celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Passover which is fifty days thus the title Pentecost, which means fiftieth. This feast is the second of three major Jewish feasts which take place annually in Jerusalem. It is believed that is was the most well-attended since the traveling conditions are premium for this time of year.
All the disciples were all together. The NLT says, “they were meeting together in one place.” which not only means they were in the same physical place, but they were also of the same mind and sharing the same passion.
Vs 2: Suddenly a sound comes from heaven like a roaring wind, and it fills the house where they were staying. There are three occurrences in this passage that are important for us to understand because there is a great symbolic meaning behind this unique incidence, and it gives us insight to what is going on.
The first occurrence is the great and rushing wind. The Hebrew word wind is translated as ruah and the Greek is pneuma; these words are used to describe the Holy Spirit. It is worth noting that in the Bible the Holy Spirit is portrayed as the breath of God. God’s breath was breathed out onto his people, and this is the moment that they anticipated. The Holy Spirit had come as Jesus had promised.
Vs 3: The second occurrence is the appearance of divided tongues of fire that rested upon them. Fire is symbolic of God’s presence. This is important because the presence of God now rested upon the believers individually. Author and Pastor R. Kent Hughes writes, “The emphasis from Pentecost onwards is on the personal relationship of God to the believer through the Holy Spirit.” Jesus told his disciples he must go away so that they Spirit can come and abide or dwell in all believers.
Vs 4: The third occurrence is the tongues of fire settled on the believers and they all began to speak in other tongues or languages as the Spirit had enabled them. Being filled with the Spirit is the enabling the believers to do something supernatural to bring glory to God. According to Hughes, “In the O.T. inspired speech was regularly associated with the Spirit’s coming upon God’s servants. To the observant Jew, it was easy to see that the Holy Spirit had come.”
So, what does this all mean? On this day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago God had foreordained and sanctified this day to be the day where he would breathe his Spirit onto believers and filling them with himself (God’s presence is in the believer) thus enabling them to live the Spirit-filled life for his glory. God Himself resides in believers and we are empowered to do tasks that brings glory to his name. This applies to us today. Pentecost was not a unique one-time occurrence that will never happen again. Being baptized by the Spirit is an ongoing that all of us may or have experienced. We too can be and should be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Now we don’t want to confuse the Baptism of the Spirit with receiving the Spirit. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ he is regenerated or born again by the Spirit of God. This is the point where we are identified with Jesus Christ and publicly acknowledge our union with Him. It is the point where Rom 8:11 says, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
To be filled or baptized by the Holy Spirit is different. The believers did not receive the Spirit at Pentecost. Instead, they were empowered by the Spirit to do something that brought glory to God that they could not do in their own strength or power, hence utterances in other languages. R.C. Sproul writes, “The “baptism of the Spirit” refers to being equipped or empowered by God’s Spirit to carry out the task that Jesus has given the church. When the Spirit equips us or baptizes us, we are immersed, as it were, in the Holy Spirit; sometimes the Scriptures refer to this as being filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Vs 5: When the Jewish believers were empowered the onlookers began to marvel at what was going on. Those looking in were devout Jewish men, religious men, pious men and educated men from all parts of the known world at this time. They all spoke various languages because they were from different parts of the world at this time. When they saw these Galilean men speaking in different languages they could hardly believe what they were hearing.
Vs 7: Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?” Galileans were not educated men in fact they were despicable men, from whom nothing learned or polite was to be expected. Christ was thought to be a Galilean, and his disciples were as well. They were believed to be unlearned and ignorant men. This was truly an astonishing thing for these onlookers to witness.
Vs 8: These men were not uttering unknown words but instead were speaking the language of Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians. What the onlookers heard were the Galileans praising God and His wonderful works in their own native tongue.
Vs 12: The only reasonable explanation these onlookers could come up with was that these strange men were drunk and didn’t really know what they were doing to which Peter answers their ludicrous claims in his sermon to follow.
So this truly was a strange Pentecostal day but it is one that is important for us to recognize and understand what happened. The people who were filled with the Holy Spirit were not just acting weird; they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry out a task for the glory of Jesus. Pastor and author Jim Cymbala writes, “(this day was), a typhoonlike visitation of the Spirit of God.” How many of us could benefit from this kind of visit by the Spirit of God? How much could our church benefit from a downpour of the Spirit of God? The late Pastor John Stott writes, “As a body without the Holy Spirit is a corpse, so the church without the Holy Spirit is dead.” Could this be the one thing that is missing in the church today? Is the church at large or are we, for that matter, depending too much on human strength, wisdom, and programs and not enough on the Holy Spirit? When was the last time we/you said, “God I am dropping my agenda and emptying myself of me so there can be room for you in my life, my family, my work, and my church.”? We all like to be in control and we often get in God’s way when He wants to do something that will completely blow our minds. The key to a Spirit filled life and Church is found in the emptying of ourselves of ourselves and allowing God to fill us with Him.
So, as we close this time of worship this morning, I would like to take a moment for to evaluate our lives personally. Have you received the Spirit of God? Are you born again? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? If not, is the Spirit calling you to come to faith in Jesus Christ right now?
The Acts of the Apostles was written by a man named Luke (who was also the author of the Gospel of Luke). It is widely believed that Luke was a medical doctor and a travel companion of the Apostle Paul. Luke wrote this account of the early church to a gentile believer named Theophilus around the year 63 A.D. He wrote it to document the activities and works of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles (namely Peter and Paul) after the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Father. Luke paints a vivid picture of the Genesis of the Christian Church and the workings of the Holy Spirit through believers.
“During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.”
In the opening chapter of Acts Luke establishes from the get-go the validity, reality, and the importance of resurrection of Jesus Christ. He writes about how Jesus appeared to the Disciples on numerous occasions thus giving proof or evidence that He was and is alive. There are multiple resurrection accounts found in the Bible and Harry shared many of them with you last week. Harry also noted that the resurrection is the central point of the Gospel message; without the resurrection Christianity is empty, void, and false.
1 Corinthians 15:14
The Apostle Paul affirms, “And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.”
The Bible tells us that Jesus walked the earth for forty days after his resurrection and appeared to the disciples and others telling them about the Kingdom of God. Luke tells of one specific encounter with Jesus and the disciples in Acts 1:6 – 7 where he brings up the topic of the Kingdom of God. But before we go there I would like to tell you a story about a man named Harold Camping.
In an NPR article published on May 24, 2011 titled “Following Harold Camping, Facing a Prediction” Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes…
On Sunday morning, when Harold Camping awoke to clocks ticking, clouds moving, a world still existing, his response was one of bewilderment. At least, that's what he told photographer Brandon Tauszik.
The Oakland-based photographer has been shadowing Camping and his congregation for the past few weeks, before and immediately after Camping's predicted May 21 "rapture." Tauszik, who considers himself Christian, says he was fascinated by the people responsible for the billboards and flyers that warned of End Times.
Tauszik attended church services with them and found the congregation to be not a group of radicals, but "families, middle-class... normal people," he says, who thought they had an answer.
Camping, 89, is an engineer and founder of Family Radio, a Christian radio network. The self-taught Bible teacher convinced many of his listeners that the end was near as well. Many people quit their jobs and left their families, and some gave away their money to the cause.
When the day came and went without an earthquake of rapture, Camping recovered quite quickly. On Monday, he said in a broadcast that there was a spiritual judgment in heaven on Saturday — one we could not see — and that the world would be destroyed on Oct. 21. He added that he's not going to discuss judgment day anymore.
"I mean, Camping is 89," Tauszik says. "I don't know how much, at that age, you have left in you to do this whole media spectacle again. His attitude Sunday was very defeated."
Camping said he will not return the money that believers gave to the cause, noting, "We're not at the end. Why would we return it?"
I tell you this story about Camping because he brings up a question that many people throughout history have ask, contemplated, and in Camping’s case predicted… When will the Second Coming of Christ occur?
Acts 1:4 - 6
This is a question that has been asked for millennia. Even as early as the first century we see the disciples of Jesus asking a similar question, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” And in a gentle and loving rebuke He responds, “The (time and dates) are not for you to know”. In other words he gives them a nunya response “It’s nunya business.” There is a little reprimand in his response because Jesus knew what they were asking, and they still were not getting the big picture. However, it is believed the disciples were asking a threefold question.
Vs 8: He says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus was saying, “Let’s not focus on when the Kingdom will come, let’s focus on how the Kingdom will come.” His words were both prophetic and a command. They were prophetic in the sense that the disciples were called and commissioned to be Christ’s witnesses to all the world. But in the same manner this was a command because Jesus was instructing them in what they needed to do to expand the kingdom. Their witness was beginning in Jerusalem, then it would expand like ripples in a pond… From Judea to Samaria and then to the rest of the world. He was commissioning the disciples to be agents of the Gospel message to the known world. BUT they were not to be hasty, they were to wait until the Holy Spirit came and empowers them before they go out. This is important to note because without being empowering of the Holy Spirit this mission would fail.
The empowering of the Holy Spirit is essential to the believer when especially sharing the Gospel. It is imperative for us to understand that in order to bring the Gospel to the world believers must be in tune with, empowered by and guided by the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are to seize every opportunity to share the Gospel, but we also need to sensitive to the fact that it is the Holy Spirit working through us not us who brings change and transformation. Conviction, call to repentance, and salvation is God’s job, and He is very good at it. We need to trust that when we share Christ’s love that God will work through us, and we will be sensitive to know that not every situation is the right time to share the Gospel. Sometimes we need to WAIT for the Spirit to move and proceed when He tells us to move. In this way Jesus tells the disciples to wait a little bit longer and when they have received the Spirit then they will be empowered to go to all the nations.
Vs 9 – 11: Luke records that after he had spoken these words, “He was taken up before their eyes, and a cloud hid him for their sight.” The disciples were looking intently up in the sky as Jesus ascends and two men appeared to them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking to the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heave, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
It is believed these two men were angels or maybe possibly Moses and the Prophet Elijah. It does not matter who they were as much as what they said. They questioned why the Apostles were gazing up at the sky? The Apostles were not to be star gazers. They were not able to bring Jesus back by gazing up to the sky. He was gone, they must let him go; He will return in his own good time and in the same way. Until then, they had work to do.
This is true for us today. Jesus is coming back some day! This is great news! He will return to establish the Kingdom of God. However, we do not know the day, the time, hour, or the year. Only God knows these details. So, in preparation for Jesus’ return we must take his command to share the good news seriously and allow the Spirit to empower us and go out to spread the Gospel.
We are told in Revelation 1:7, “Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!” The return of Christ in inevitable. It will happen. It will be a public event; it will not be private like his ascension. His return will establish and usher in the new reign and rule of the Kingdom of God. As Christians we anticipate this day! But until then we must not waste our time gazing at the sky or shielding ourselves from the world while we wait for something to happen. We have work to do. This work is not for our salvation it is for the sake of Gospel to a world who desperately needs hope and Good News of a Savior who loves them so much, he died for them, rose again, ascended to the Father, and will return one day to establish His new Kingdom. This is Jesus’ mandate for us. So, let us commit today to be witnesses for His Kingdom.
The year was 1988 and it was my senior year in high school. Four guys and I met together and aspired to form a rock band to perform at our annual high school talent show. Since I was an elementary student, I had dreamed about forming and playing in a rock band. Finally, the time had come and the five of us were ready to form this nameless band (I think the name we eventually chose was Crossfire) and begin our quest for rock & roll world domination (or so we thought).
I remember Jamie Trusler, Todd Carlson, Frank Eriksen, Scott Dietzel and I coming up with the idea to showcase our band at Maple Grove Junior Senior High Schools talent show. We spent months and countless hours practicing our drummer, Scott, parents’ basement. They were so patient, accommodating and encouraging. Occasionally we would hear his mother yell down to the basement, “Scott, turn it down!” We never did.
We began working on our set list…four songs would suffice. We would do one from Black Sabbath, one from Gun’s and Roses, one from Motley Crue and one from Buddy Holly. It was an odd set list, but it was our set list.
We played the songs over and over until we had them perfected. We were so excited, and we couldn’t wait to debut our band before the entire high school. We were determined to NOT look like fools. After all, we believed, this was what we were made to do.
The months passed and the day of the show had finally come. The final bell at school day and we quickly began preparations for the evening’s big show. We set up our sound system, built a drum riser, tuned the guitars, did a sound check, and waited anxiously for show time.
I remember feeling apprehensive, nervous, confident, and yes, a little terrified. This was it! This was the night we had all anticipated. MGHS was going to witness the epic debut of a band that would one day rule the radio airwaves. The five of us waited backstage, pacing, fidgeting, and anxiously waiting for the acts before us to finish. Finally! It was our time! We grabbed our instruments and positioned ourselves on stage. I remember thinking, “This is it! This is what I am going to do for the rest of my life. This is my purpose; this is my calling!”
Everything was set. We were ready. The house lights went down. The stage lights went off. I heard some to my left. Jamie was yelling, “I can’t see! I can’t see my guitar neck to know where to start!” I say, “It’s just an E chord… We’ve done this song a million times you can do this.” He walks over to the curtain opens it just enough to let the spotlight in and finds his position… Finally, the curtain opens. This is moment we had all been waiting for! There was no turning back. It was beautiful, it was exhilarating, and it was everything I hoped it would be.
If you have ever spent any time on the stage, you know the feeling of anticipation, nervousness, excitement, and fear before the curtain rises (no matter how prepared you are). Once the curtain rises you have two choices…
I tell you this story because I was reminded of this event in my life when I was reading our scripture passage today. For the past few weeks, we have looked briefly at the life and ministry of Jesus and today we reach the epic moment of his earthly ministry. This is the moment Jesus had been preparing for since the creation of the world.
Here in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus sets the plan of salvation in motion. He has talked about this moment, He has prepared for it, and now the time had come. Jesus is confronted by the band of soldiers who has been brought to the garden by Judas, the captain and officers of the Chief Priests and the Pharisees. What lay before him is the cup which the Father has given to him to drink (his death) and nobody have faulted Jesus for running and this moment, but instead we see Jesus willingly taking the cup and enduring the pain and suffering that follows.
John 18:1 - 18
After Jesus had finished his prayer and concluded his farewell discourse, he goes to a garden that he often went with his disciples (as we see in Luke 22:39). Judas knew Jesus would be there and he brings with him Roman soldiers (possibly up to 200) and the temple police to have Jesus arrested. Jesus meets the Judas and the group and asks who they are seeking? They respond, “Jesus of Nazareth.” He replies, “I am he.” The literal translation is “I am.” (This is significant, and I would encourage you to read Exodus 3 to see why.)
John tells us that after Jesus’ response the soldiers drew back and fell to the ground or as the NET Bible says, “they retreated” or moved back and fell to the ground. What happened at this moment? Why did the soldiers fall? Some Bible scholars believe that the soldiers in the front may have jumped back when Jesus unexpectedly advanced forward causing those in the front to start a domino effect of soldiers falling to the ground. Others believe they fell because of the presence of God, thus causing his enemies to fall back prostrate before him. One commentator writes, “We see they are struck down by a power such as that which smote Saul of Tarsus and his companions to the earth (Ac 26:14). It was the glorious (radiance) of the majesty of Christ which overpowered them. This occurs before His surrender, (and) would show His power over His enemies, and the freedom with which He gave Himself up.”
It is important for us (whether a believer or not) to know and understand as Pastor Tim Keller says in his sermon, I AM HE, “Nobody can stand on their feet in the presence of God.” The power of God is awesome in all senses of the word. Not only is his presence awesome, but it is awe inspiring. I believe in Jesus we see the power of God manifested in His name (I AM, Yahweh). If the mere mention of the name of God can bring a squad of soldiers to their knees, then we ought to recognize and respect the power of God altogether.
Jesus asks them again whom they seek and tells them he is the one they seek. He also mentions to let the men with him go unharmed. Peter then decides he wants to seize the opportunity and he attacks the High Priest’s servant and cuts off his ear. Peter’s knee jerk reaction spurs Jesus to let everyone know he is not seeking violence but will go peacefully. Jesus rebukes Peter by asking him, “Shall I not drink from this cup of suffering the Father has given me?” This is his way of saying to Peter, “This all must happen. This moment has been determined since the beginning of time. Jesus declares, I must do as the father says to accomplish the plan from the start.” He has willingly accepted the mission, the cross of Calvary, the Father has given to Him. His death on the cross was not a hiccup in the plan of God. It was THE plan from the beginning.
Jesus was arrested and bound by the soldiers and taken before the Father-in-law of Annas the High Priest (who was Caiaphas).
Peter and another unnamed disciple followed Jesus to Annas’ courtyard. It is suggested that this “other disciple” was John. Peter stayed outside but the other disciple was known by Annas and entered the courtyard. Eventually Peter was allowed to come in but, in the meantime, he and a group of people were warming themselves around a fire and the door keeper questions as to whether he was a follower of Jesus. Peter was fearful for his personal safety thus he denies that he is a disciple of Jesus. We can only speculate as to his motivation in denying Jesus, but we know he must deny him three times.
I love that the Gospels put in this account of Peter. I have no reservation that Peter was known as a hot head or one who didn’t think about consequences. We also know Peter was one of Jesus’ inner circle. He shared intimate moments with the Messiah. He had the faith to step out of a boat in faith and walk on water (even if it was only for a moment). He was also promised by Jesus to be the Rock on which He would build his church. Yet he is portrayed as a 100% flawed human being in the Gospels and I am thankful for this. In his zeal he cuts the ear off the guard, but in fear he denies Jesus three times to which he assured Jesus he would NEVER do. Peter is a great example of a flawed follower of Jesus; and my friends we are all flawed followers of Jesus. We all do things in our Christian walk we are not proud of. There may be times where you remain silent when you should speak up, or you may not have the “proper” reaction or response to certain things in your life or better yet maybe you, like Peter have denied Jesus in public.
I have heard so many people say, “Christians think they are perfect, always right and judgmental.” Yes, there are Christians who may have that air about them, but we all know (which is evident in this passage) since the beginnings of Christianity followers of Jesus were flawed. The same goes for believers today. We are not perfect; we should strive to not be “know it all’s” and we should not be judgmental towards others. However, there are times we are and thankfully we have a Savior who is forgiving, understanding, and loving to us when we come to him in repentance… He loves us warts and all.
How Much Does He Love You?
John 19:16 – 21
The crucifixion is a gruesome, brutal, tragic but altogether necessary account in the Gospels. The death of Jesus Christ establishes God’s new covenant of grace, atonement, and redemption with humanity.
It is important to understand that everything Jesus did on this earth was for a higher purpose. He took the world by storm, he exposed the religious people for what they were, and he showed the world the true look at what real love looks like. We are the beneficiaries of the work that Jesus has done and completed on the cross of Calvary. Because of his life, death, and resurrection anyone who believes, trusts and obeys his commands have been given the true grace of life everlasting (This is the Good News). It is important to note this life is available to ALL who believe, obey, and put their faith in Jesus regardless of race, gender, or social status. God established a new life through Jesus Christ that does not depend on works and legalism. This way is not based on the sacrifice of animals but on the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus. This way is not based on keeping the law but on the fulfillment of a promise or covenant made by God. This new way of life promotes freedom through submission. It promotes living through dying. It promotes loving all. It promotes faith in God and not faith in humanity or circumstances. This way is available to us because Jesus willingly gave himself to die on the cross so that humanity could be made right with God. In all what Jesus talked and taught about all along was “The Kingdom of God is at hand, so be prepared.”
In these passages the curtain rises to the beginning of the end, if you will, to the Gospel account. The irony is this tragedy must happen before the good news can be declared “good news.”. Since creation this has been the plan of God. Jesus must take the cup and he must drink it before those who believe can be redeemed. Our perfect Savior lovingly, willingly, and obediently goes to the cross of Calvary to give his life for his flawed, and imperfect followers. Rejoice in this today. Know you have a Savior who is loves you, is sovereign, and all powerful (even so much that at the mere mention of his name his enemies fall over) and yet he humbles himself to the point of death so that all who believe may have eternal life and have it abundantly.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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