The purpose of this resource is to provide you with some sermons related to revival. If I asked you what are the core areas of preaching / teaching that provide an environment for revival what would you say? By revival I mean an extension of the kingdom of God on earth through God's people being revived. As a consequence of being revived a multitude of new people entering the kingdom of God.
A) The cross (S1 THE MIRACLES OF THE CROSS, S2 FATHER FORGIVE THEM - A CRY FROM THE CROSS, S3 ISAIAH 53)
B) The Resurrection. (S1 THE EMPTY TOMB AND THE STONE ROLLED AWAY, S2 TWO RESURRECTIONS, S3 CAUSE AND EFFECT)
2) The Baptism in the Holy Spirit. (Please select / Resources tab Teaching on the Holy Spirit)
D) The Authority of the Believer.
E) The Passion of Christ- our inspiration.
Over the next few months I will add additional teaching. The first series below covers the Cross of Christ. New section added: The Authority of the Believer a long way below.
A) SERIES ON THE CROSS
SERMON 1: THE MIRACLES OF THE CROSS
Today I have an unusual request. Please come and rob me. You see I have an abundance of golden truth and I’d like you to carry away as much as you can. My supply can never be emptied because God has supplied abundantly. No demon or devil can rob me of its power and when they are confronted with its truth they run away in abject fear. The enemy has a hold on people through sin and the cross is the most powerful weapon that breaks its grasp. I’m not afraid of mankind stealing it from me. In fact I welcome you to come and take as much as you can. I willingly give it to all who are hungry for its power. You too will find peace knowing that the cross has brought you victory over sin. This truth will better equip you to go forth and tell others about its power.
Many people think the death of was a defeat. What power can there be in a God who has died on a cross? Perhaps you are one of them. Today I will explain how it was a great victory won for mankind over the power of sin. Miracles are supernatural things that give us faith in a supernatural God. The miracles that took place during and after Jesus’ crucifixion inspire us to believe for yet another great miracle- our own resurrection from the dead. The cross and the resurrection form the backbone of victory in a believer’s life.
The intended purpose of this sermon is to affirm the believer’s faith in the power of the cross and to bring those who haven’t understood it into a saving relationship with God.
Let’s look at the miracles.
Even though it was day time Mark 15:13 says between 12.00 and 3 p.m. complete darkness hung over the land. The Father couldn’t look at the sin laid upon His Son- your sin, my sin and the sin of the world. In fact our sin was so black, it blackened out the sky. Many think they are only little sinners and so God wouldn’t be interested in them. Sin is sin and it separates you from a Holy God and if you die in your sin, one day He will come looking for you.
Miracles 2 & 3
Graves were cracked open by a powerful earthquake. No doubt this was an expression of Father God’s grief over the death of His Son. But another miracle followed when some dead saints were resurrected from the dead and appeared in the city. (Matt 27:51-53) This was proof that the cross had released resurrection power. Although these people died physically and permanently some time later, it gives us hope in the truth of the resurrection when we too will receive a resurrected body like that of Jesus. One day all graves will be opened and everyone will receive one of two possible resurrections- a resurrection of life or a resurrection of condemnation. Which of the two resurrections have you chosen?
The High Priest was the only person who could enter the temple’s most holy place and then only once each year on the Day of Atonement. Before he entered a blood of a sacrifice was needed. The temple curtain was as thick as a man’s hand and it was a barrier between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple. It represented mankind’s sin which separated us from God’s Holy presence. After Christ’s death invisible hands ripped the temple curtain. It took a massive amount of force to tear it from top to bottom- a visual picture that salvation is from God towards man and not man towards God. The torn curtain represented Christ’s body on the cross. Many of the world religions would have us believe we can climb a ladder of good works to come before God. In reality, it is the other way around. No man can come before the Father unless through Jesus. For we who believe, the finished work of the cross meant that sin no longer separates us from the presence of God. We can enter His presence every day through Jesus our High Priest and not just on the Day of Atonement.
The centurion supervising Christ’s crucifixion witnessed these events. He drew only one possible conclusion- “Surely, this man was the Son of God. (Mark 15:39) He had executed many men by nailing them to a cross and had never said this about them. Jesus didn’t die like all the others. His death was singularly different as the man was singularly different from all other men. No one had ever died under the same miraculous circumstances. To claim that Jesus was just a man like you or me defies the facts of His death and the eye witness conclusion of the centurion.
I wonder what the Centurion would have said if He had witnessed Jesus’ resurrection. Disbelieving Thomas saw Jesus alive after His death and his conclusion was “my Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) This was proof that Christ didn’t remain on the cross or in the grave. He rose three days after His death proving that He had defeated death- not just for Himself but for us all. As much as the cross brought victory over sin, the resurrection brought victory over death. His victory is our victory.
Perhaps there are some here who have actually mocked the truth of the cross. I want you to know that you aren’t alone. While on the cross Jesus experienced the mocking of others at three important junctions.
- Those who passed by mocked Him saying: “You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matt 27:37-40) Perhaps you are just passing by today and think nothing at the sight of the bloodied man on the cross.
- Or are you like the Scribes and Pharisees who mocked Him saying “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.” Perhaps you are a wise and educated man like them and agree that He deserved to be mocked. What I’ve told you is actually the beginning of saving knowledge for both the educated and uneducated.
- Physical death has many different forms and all men face one of them. At your impeding death, will you be like the man on the cross beside Jesus who mocked Him saying, “If you are the Christ, save Your-self and us.” (Luke 23:39) Mocking Him will only bring you the same fate as the criminal- eternal punishment and separation from God.
And here you are listening to me today and I have shown you the Saviour hanging on the cross. What is your conclusion? Ignoring what He has done for you mocks His sacrifice just like those at His death. Perhaps you have used His name as a swear word and continue to mock Him even today. Even now the Holy Spirit is speaking to you and testifies about the truth you’ve just heard. Do you know there is only one unforgivable sin and that is blaspheming the Holy Spirit? (Luke 12:10) Does that make you feel comfortable because in your relief you say to yourself ‘I’ve never done that?’ If you refuse to accept Christ as your sin substitute you have just done it. The Holy Spirit testifies as to this truth. If you don’t believe Him, your lack of belief has just called Him a liar and that is the blasphemy that I refer to.
But it doesn’t have to end that way.
Make no mistake that which is dead is dead and unless the Spirit of God reveals the truth to you and breathes new life upon your spirit, you will remain dead in your sin. The good news of the Gospel is that you can be born again. Just like Christ’s physical body was resurrected, your spirit which is dead to God through sin can be brought back to life. The ongoing miracle of someone being born again happens every day. Why not join them?
I don’t want you to go away having missed the hour of your visitation. I ask you to appropriate the benefits of the cross and the resurrection and be saved from the wrath that comes upon the children of disobedience.
Miracle 7 plus more
God the Father wants to affirm the truth of the cross and the resurrection of His Son. Signs and wonders will be seen today in support of the truth you have just heard. I invite those needing salvation or a miracle from God to come forward for prayer.
SERIES ON THE RESURRECTION
SERMON 2: FATHER FORGIVE THEM- A CRY FROM THE CROSS
Firstly, I’d like to speak to those who call themselves a Christian. When we read the Gospels it is evident throughout that Jesus was always about His Father’s business. Just as Jesus didn’t exist for Himself as a man, so the Church doesn’t exist for itself. The prayer of Jesus on the cross focused on the forgiveness of others and is a model for the New Testament Church. If people won’t hear about forgiveness in the Church then the Church needs to go to the people- to the slums and dens and dwelling places in all the cities of the world. A Church has no reason to justify its indefinite existence if it fails to achieve its primary mission of telling others about forgiveness and the pardon that Jesus won for them on the cross.
41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And [l]Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
Like Jesus we need to be about our Father’s business. We need to tell others about His cry on the cross “Father forgive them.” In Christianity, the living God Himself became the sacrifice to save others, yet other religions demand sacrifices from their devotees. It is a fair question to ask, is your God willing to sacrifice himself to save you?
To appreciate what God put has put into the bible it helps to place your-self in the same situation as those in the story. It’s amazing what insights can be learned. But even if you do this it is difficult to completely understand how Jesus felt during His torture and execution. Let’s try to look down from the cross and see what Jesus thought, saw and felt?
They have just tortured you and nailed you to the cross and you see them looking up at you. What is your prayer? Jesus doesn’t cry out for Himself. Instead He cries out for the murderers that placed Him there. “Father forgive them” is His prayer. The mercy He was denied He now asks for those that hated him the most. While experiencing deep pain and suffering, Jesus reminds us not to allow despair to prevent us from approaching the mercy-seat of God for others. His entire life was baptised in prayer, He soaked Himself in it even when approaching the moment of His imminent death. He doesn’t say I forgive them- that is taken for granted- He seems to lose sight of the fact that any wrong was done to Himself- demonstrating a profound nobility of character. The religious rulers taunted Him saying “come down from the cross and we will believe in you.” He could have easily have escaped the torment of the cross, even now calling legions of angels to help him. Instead He focuses His prayer on the needs of others. This reveals how opposite the heart of God is when compared with the heart of man. The criminals beside Him blasphemed and mocked Him but His prayer was “Father forgive them.” His heart shows mercy when none was given.
During His ministry, Jesus overcame those who hated Him by coming against them with an opposite Spirit. When others came at Him in hatred He would overcome with love and this pattern continued even while hanging on the cross. If you think God is unfeeling about your personal pain look at Jesus hanging there, suffering what you yourself deserved. Had He refused this death, the penalty for sin would have remained unpaid and you would be eternally separated you from God. Rather than recognise the wrong done to Him-self, He feels the sharp pain of the injustice done to His Father. Jesus believed this murderous assault was more hurtful to His Father than the pain of His own death. “Father forgive them” is His only anguish.
There He hangs perfectly innocent knowing that His own people condemned Him and the gentiles represented by Rome carried out the sentence. Consequently, the whole world stands guilty of His death by association either through the Jews or the gentiles. Even though He knew this, Jesus sought to excuse us before His Father on the basis of our ignorance. “Father they know not what they do.” Ignorance of the law isn’t a justifiable defence. And it wouldn’t have been if anyone other than God the Son pled it in our defence. God the Father says “very well my Son, I grant your request” and offers all mankind a pardon if they are willing to accept it. Please understand the importance of what I’m saying- your eternal destiny depends on it. The requirements of justice are such that the sentence must be carried out if the criminal refuses to be pardoned. Everyone refusing the pardon while alive on this earth will face a second death sentence. After you die physically you will be confined in a holding cell until the time the death sentence is to be carried out. This sentence is eternal separation from God also known as spiritual death.
In 1829 two men, George Wilson and James Porter robbed a United States mail carrier. Both were subsequently captured and tried in a court of law. In May 1830 both men were found guilty of six charges, including robbery of the mail “and putting the life of the driver in jeopardy.” Both Wilson and Porter received their sentences: Execution by hanging, to be carried out on July 2.
Porter was executed on schedule, but Wilson was not. Influential friends pleaded for mercy to the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, on his behalf. President Jackson issued a formal pardon. Wilson would have to serve only a prison term of 20 years for his crimes. Incredibly, George Wilson refused the pardon!
The U.S. Supreme Court determined, “The court cannot give the prisoner the benefit of the pardon, unless he claims the benefit of it…. It is a grant to him: it is his property; and he may accept it or not as he pleases.” Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, “A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws…. (But) delivery is not completed without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, and…we have no power in a court to force it on him.”
Because George Wilson rejected the pardon the sentence had to be carried out. The same principle applies to every person here today. Jesus Christ offers you a pardon for your sin, but unless you accept it, like George Wilson the sentence must be carried out, namely- eternal separation from God. The same principle applies in contract law. If there is no acceptance of the offer then there is no binding contract and the parties can’t benefit from it.
The religious rulers looking up at Jesus certainly didn’t ask him to pray for them saying: “Intercede for us dying king!” He exercises His priestly office of intercession by praying for those undeserving of it. All of us included. Without Christ in you there is nothing good about you and even if everything is bad about you, see how it doesn’t stop Jesus from praying for you. He prays: “they know not what they do.” I want you to know that the King on the cross prayed for you then and even prays to His Father now. If you have never accepted His pardon you have heard the sentence that awaits you. So accept the pardon now and say this prayer.
Jesus I ask you to be my Saviour believing that you have saved me from my sin. As my Lord, I ask You to have the first place in my life. I take myself off the throne of my life and place you on it. I believe that your Heavenly Father has raised you from the dead by the power of His Holy Spirit and believe the eye witness accounts of your disciples who saw You die on the cross and come back to life again. I thank you that my spirit that lives forever has been born again. When this shell of a body dies, my spirit will be able to return to you and live with you in eternity. I thank you Jesus.
I hope you can glean some pearls from this sermon that you might find useful. What happens after I've preached this sermon and others like it, is to allow the Holy Spirit to minister to the people present in His way. All you personally need is an expectant heart. I invite people to come forward for prayer if they'd like it. The Holy Spirit falls on them and they are healed, speak in tongues and encounter His presence generally.
SERIES ON THE CROSS
SERMON 3: Is 53
God has given us prophetic messages to encourage and warn us. When prophecy is fulfilled it gives us a confidence that we can rely on God’s promises. An atheist friend of mine set out to disprove the prophecies of the bible. When he studied the facts, they proved to be true and so he became a Christian. Isaiah 53 is an amazing chapter written approximately 740 years before the events took place. It describes the sacrifice of the Messiah who would be killed on a cross for mankind’s salvation. Israel was and still is a very proud nation. As God’s chosen people they would never think to treat their Messiah in such a despicable way as described by the prophet, yet it happened just as he said. Let’s look at the way in which the prophecies were fulfilled.
Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
The Old Testament prophets must have felt so frustrated by Israel’s rejection of God’s prophetic messages about worshipping only the Living God. Perhaps modern day preachers could say the same thing. “And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” was a desperate cry of the prophet’s heart. Israel’s spiritual leaders were so dull of hearing and for 420 years there was little revelation about God. Vision and prophecy had been sealed up until the appearance of the Messiah.
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Israel lived under the harsh yoke of Roman rule and the Messiah was born during a time of spiritual dryness. Israel expected a Messiah who would lead them in a war against Roman tyranny and restore their nation to its former glory. Instead He came as a baby- like a tender shoot from a dry ground through the miraculous virgin birth. It has been said that Jesus had the physical appearance of an ordinary man. There was nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him as this verse foretold. It was only when people looked into His eyes that they noticed any difference. He lived a sinless life and when people looked into His eyes they saw their own reflected sin. The beauty of Jesus was the internal beauty of His character and not in His external appearance. This internal beauty was also seen in the Garden of Eden.
God placed our first parents in a Garden of Delight and made them His under-rulers. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden represented the Messiah who was to come. However there was another tree called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God commanded our first parents not to eat from this tree. It was a reminder to them that God was sovereign. Mankind could eat from any other tree including the tree of life. The choice of the two trees was before them, but mankind rebelled against God’s commandment and ate from the forbidden tree. Why did they choose so badly? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a beautiful tree. It appealed to Eve’s sense of beauty and she ate from it to be wise. Adam also ate from it wanting to rule his own life instead of God. The tree of life had no appeal of external beauty to be desired, just like the picture of the Messiah who had no form or comeliness in His physical appearance.
God had warned our first parents that if they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would face a two-fold death. Spiritual death came upon them immediately. No longer did they have a face to face relationship with their creator and they died physically many years later. The Messiah would eventually come to make new birth possible for the spirit of man that was dead because of sin.
If mankind had eaten from the tree of life after eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would have become eternal criminals- living forever in exile from God’s presence. So God placed a flaming sword around the tree to prevent this from happening. God’s heart has always been to bring reconciliation with His rebellious children. This took place when God the Son came into the world to pay the penalty for mankind’s rebellion.
The Messiah’s beauty is an internal beauty of the Spirit just like the life giving juices of the tree of life and not in any external beauty. When the Messiah came to His own people, they didn’t recognise Him missing their time for Godly visitation.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, we esteemed him not.
They were expecting a Messiah who would lead them in battle, not a man who preached love your enemies and do good to those who spitefully use you. Surely the real Messiah would include the moral rulers the Pharisees and the ruling class of the Sadducees as His disciples and not the common sinners that He had chosen. The Messiah was well acquainted with grief when He was betrayed by one of his closest friends; condemned by his people although innocent; forsaken by his disciples and governorship.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Have you ever wondered what it would take for God to forgive sin? You might say God is God so He can do anything He likes. If God’s character is perfectly just, then perfect justice demands a punishment for breaking the Law. God can’t act in a different way to His character. Adam and Eve committed the sin of high treason and the penalty for that has always been death. How could God forgive mankind and yet at the same time be perfectly just? The death penalty must be applied to pay for their sin. In this we see the need for blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin and it needed to be perfect.
Many saw mother Taresa as a selfless human being. Would she have been an appropriate sacrifice? Unfortunately, the best of mankind will never do because all have sinned in some way including mother Teresa. Sin came into the world through one man therefore it is only just that by One man it could be removed. It demanded the perfect sacrifice of a sinless person. Only God Himself could be that sacrifice in the form of Jesus- the sinless Lamb of God.
Would your god be prepared to punish himself for the wrongs you have committed? Our Messiah carried our griefs of sin and sorrow. The punishment we deserved was placed on Him. During His life, He did many things to prove that He was God. He lived a sinless life, healed all that came to Him, cast out demons, had power over the weather and even raised people from the dead. You would expect people to highly esteem Him, yet the extent of their gratitude was to murder Him on a cross.
As you can see God doesn’t forgive sin easily. It took the highest price that heaven could pay. This is in stark contrast to His trusted friend who betrayed Him for less than the price of a common slave. But it didn’t end on the cross. As hard as it was for Father God to place our punishment on His innocent Son, it was pre-planned in eternity that Jesus would be raised from the dead. The cross was just the beginning. In the same way that God raised up His own Son, His adopted sons and daughters will also receive a resurrected body on the last day.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Some people interpret this verse to mean His stripes healed us from physical infirmity. The cross was about punishment for sin and about healing reconciliation with God. If we have been reconciled with God then this opens the door for physical healing, but isn’t necessarily the release of it. If anything it is resurrection life that brought about our physical healing. I don’t want to rob anyone of their faith and if they believe contrary to me then God bless them.
The feeling of guilt about our sin removes our peace. The chastisement of our peace was placed on Jesus the Lamb of God and so He became our peace with God. Not by anything that we have done, but rather His sacrifice on our behalf.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He took everyone’s iniquity no one is excluded. People from every tribe, language and nation can receive God’s forgiveness. Sin had no claim on Jesus personally, but our sin was laid upon Him like a heavy blanket or cloak. Our sin literally blocked out the sun for three hours from 12 – 3 p.m. in the afternoon and our Heavenly Father couldn’t look upon His Son.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he not his
At His trial the Jews brought many accusations against Him, why didn’t Jesus open His mouth to defend Himself? The Governor Pontius Pilate wanted to free Him and thought he had found a way out. It was His custom to release a prisoner at that time of year, so he brought out Barabbas a notorious criminal- surely the people would want to free Jesus instead. But no, the crowd stirred up by the religious rulers called for the release of Barabbas. In this we see the reason why Jesus was silent.
Jesus took the place of Barabbas who should have been executed. You can remove Barabbas and put yourself there because Barabbas was symbolic of you and me. Jesus knew that we are all guilty of breaking God’s law and because He took our place He had no defence. No defence meant that He had to be silent. I’ve seen sheep going to the slaughter and they don’t fight even though they somehow know what is going to happen. This was the fulfilment of the prophetic picture of Jesus going to the cross in Is 53.
He was taken from prison and from judgement: and who shall declare his generation? : for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
After His death Jesus spent three days and nights in hell. In that sense He was cut off from the land of the living. There is some scriptural support to believe that Jesus preached to the Old Testament saints. The name Hell means holding place and if more than just a parable, the story of Lazarus and the rich man describes hell as divided in two sections- holding the just and the unjust. The Old Testament Saints didn’t have a free ticket into heaven and still needed to believe on their Messiah. After preaching to them Jesus took those who believed into the paradise of heaven leading captivity captive. Jesus walked up to the devil and ripped the keys of death and hell from his hands and the devil fled to the deepest recesses of hell in fear and humiliation. His ultimate demise will take place when hell is thrown into the lake of fire along with all those who have refused to accept the sacrifice of Jesus. It’s a good one to miss, Make sure you miss it by calling Jesus Lord of your life and the removal of all other gods.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, was any deceit in his
The rich man Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus down from the cross and placed it in his own tomb. In this way Jesus made His grave with the rich again fulfilling the prophecy of Is 53.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
The Living God didn’t delight in the pain of His suffering Son. In fact He turned His face away as He couldn’t look upon it. In this instance He delighted not in the suffering, but in knowing that what His Son suffered would be the seed of reconciliation with His many adopted Sons and daughters.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
The penalty for your sin was poured out upon the soul of Jesus and God the Father was satisfied. The penalty was paid. The last words of Jesus on the cross were “it is finished.” This meant no further punishment was necessary. It would be unjust for the criminal to be punished twice for the same offence. Therefore those who accept Jesus as dying in their place, no longer need to fear any further punishment. He suffered it for them making full restitution and satisfying the righteous requirements of the Law. The same thing can’t be said if you refuse to accept His payment. You have no remedy for your sin which clings to you. If God didn’t spare His own Son in payment for sin what will happen to those refusing His payment? The picture of Jesus hanging on the cross is a grim reminder to you that there is a day of reckoning coming when you will make payment for your unbelief. If the criminal refuses the pardon then the sentence for the crime must be carried out. There is no salvation apart from faith in the work of Jesus on Calvary!
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Pilate was afraid to execute Jesus, but when they said He claimed to be the Son of God, Pilate became more afraid. He probably thought, ‘this is the Son of God and they want me to execute Him.’ Pilate had good cause to be afraid because it was true. Calvary might have been a fearful sight, but an even more fearful sight awaits those who refuse to accept its benefits. Jesus was numbered with the transgressors when two criminals were executed beside Him. When you look at the scene of Calvary and the three crosses you can see the destiny of all mankind. One criminal continued in his blasphemy of Jesus and refused to accept salvation. The other criminal also blasphemed Jesus, but had a change of mind and called Him Lord. One criminal went into eternal torment and the other into everlasting life. Which criminal’s destiny have you chosen? Be like the criminal that changed his mind, if you have never called Jesus your Lord- do it now. Have a change of heart and enter into everlasting life.
God validates who He is through prophecy. The Old Testament is full of directive prophecy where God explains what will happen in the future. Only God as the source could do that. Mankind doesn’t have that capacity within his own resources. It is only a characteristic of the Living God.
B) SERIES ON THE RESURRECTION
SERMON 1: THE EMPTY TOMB AND THE STONE ROLLED AWAY
The purpose of this sermon is to provide believers and unbelievers with evidence about the truth of the resurrection. The empty tomb forms part of this essential doctrine. If Jesus could rise from the dead it gives us confidence in the possibility of our own resurrection. The great weight of the stone sealing the tomb reminds us about the heaviness of our own sin. But the stone was rolled away and it means sin is no longer a barrier to our own resurrection, providing we believe in the finished work of Jesus. His death on the cross brought us victory over sin and the resurrection brought us victory over death. At the end of this sermon I will give unbelievers the opportunity to become believers and the opportunity to receive a resurrection like Jesus.
After dying on the cross, Jesus’ body was placed on a cold stone slab in a tomb cut from solid rock. It boasted that there is no escape and it would keep Him there. Three days later some of eye witness returned and found the stone rolled away. Where was the body of Jesus and what was could this mean?
Two women disciples of Jesus return to the tomb with spices to preserve His dead body. The stone sealing the tomb weighed over two tonnes and they wondered who would help them move it. Instead, they found it already rolled away. Our stony heart of sin will place us all in the finality of the grave. Can anyone roll it away and resurrect us back to life? The empty tomb of Jesus is a reminder that death He has defeated and that we can have a resurrection like His. “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also be live with Him; if we endure, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will also deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim 2:11-13)
Mary Magdalene runs to tell Peter and John what she has seen. She didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead because she tells them: “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Jesus had told them that He would rise from the dead, but Mary’s grief overshadowed the truth and she found it impossible to believe. All of us are just like Mary before resurrection light illuminates our understanding. The other disciples were no different. They didn’t come to the tomb on resurrection morning with garlands to hang around the neck of their victorious Saviour. They had no sense of expectation that death could be defeated and no faith that Jesus meant what He said. To them His death seemed like a final defeat. He raised people from the dead in His ministry but it seemed too difficult to believe that He could rise after His own death. No one had ever done that before.
Death’s contract was very legal boasting that it would destroy Him. It was signed in the blood of Christ, delivered by the Jews, executed by the Romans and the tomb was sealed in a contract which said death couldn’t be defeated. It was thought to be a sure thing and mankind thought it to be unbreakable. The tomb designed to keep Jesus in, was also heavily guarded to keep others out. The tomb shouted ‘this is no place for the living! I will send your invitation and collect you soon enough.’ We can truly thank the Romans and the Jews for guarding the tomb. Had they been really clever and left it unguarded they could have claimed His Disciples had stolen the body. Perhaps the Jews planned to show His rotting corpse three days after His death to prove that He was a fraud and a liar. They couldn’t guard the tomb forever and only needed three days to produce His dead body to prove Him false. They didn’t do it because Jesus had defeated death and had risen from the dead. By guarding the tomb they inadvertently added support for the factual truth of the resurrection. In their own cleverness they were no match for the wisdom and power of God.
The stone sealing the tomb was huge and weighed about two tonnes. It represented the great weight of mankind’s doubt and sin. It called to Jesus and said to Him, ‘You can’t move this.’ Not only was it sealed, it was also heavily guarded by the representatives of power to make absolutely sure that death had conquered and that none could escape. The religious rulers of the time had their own guard and were supported by the authority and might of Rome. We need to make no mistake about this. Death’s house was firmly locked and secured so that no man could rob it. And the women, mark you, turn up at the tomb before the men and say what every person in the world would like to say. ‘Who will roll away this stone of death for us- this stone of our unbelief and sin?’ But the stone was rolled away. Jesus wasn’t in the tomb. It was empty and He had risen from the dead and He is Lord.
One day we will all face the opening of the tomb of death and pass through it just as Jesus did. We all arrive at the dark and daunting entry point of eternity and death forces us to walk through it. But what do we see? Both the saved and the unsaved come to the same crisis point. One sees resurrection light and the other darkness where the hungry, gaping jaws of death open wide to swallow the godless into an endless eternity. I invite you to visit the tomb of Jesus and notice that the stone has been rolled away; then that it is empty. The prison house of death is open for all those who believe and they can now say: I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES. The children of God will pass through death, but the empty tomb of Jesus serves as a reminder that they shall never be trapped by it. Sadly the unbelieving can’t say the same thing.
In Greek mythology they put coins on the eyes of the dead to pay the ferryboat man as he crossed the river Styx taking the dead into Hades. But for the Christian there is no such price to pay. The shed blood of Jesus is full payment not for entry into Hades, but into heavens’ open gates. His blood discharged our debt of obligation and no payment on our part is necessary. Now take a quick look at your own grave and what do you see? They have laid your cold lifeless body or your ashes in the grave, but where are you? Where is your eternal spirit? Are you in the torment of hell which will one day be thrown into the burning lake of fire? Or have you associated yourself with the victory of Christ’s resurrection and are in paradise? Paradise can be yours. Simply believe that God the Father raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The empty tomb said ‘death has been effectively and permanently put away.’ Not our physical death because as Rom 3:23 says the wages of sin is death. Our physical tent must be destroyed so that our spiritual inner man can go to his heavenly home. Physical death is the curtain to a new and better world for the Christian. I see death as the entrance to the tomb of Jesus. It is a black curtain that we all must face, but passing through it, death ceases and the resurrection light of Christ’s victory welcomes us into our new heavenly home. Some who have died in Christ and have been sent back to us for a short while before their permanent exit, have described it as joy unspeakable. Jesus also suffered our spiritual death. He went to hell on our behalf separated from His Father for three days and nights in payment of our debt.
The stone rolled away is like a boundary stone between the living and the dead and one cannot cross to the other. On one side is eternal life and on the other everlasting torment. Where is this boundary stone set in your life? What does it signify to you? This stone could roll either to the left or to the right. Does it release you from the prison of death, or seal your eternal doom? I see large buildings often demolished by wrecking balls swinging from cranes. This is a picture of the stone rolled away. It swung and broke down the fortress of death and Hades, not leaving a single stone upon another that can hold the true believer in Christ. His victory is our victory. “Because I live,” said He “you shall live also.” (John 14:19)
There is a game called Jenga which uses sticks to form of a tower of blocks. Each person must take one stick in turn without making the tower collapse. The person who takes the stick that makes the tower fall is the loser. Death played this game against Jesus and lost. The resurrection is to death that last stick that makes the tower fall. Death pulled on that stick and it tumbled down in defeat. The believer’s strong consolation is that we don’t seek, or pray to a dead Christ or a buried Saviour. “But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.” (Mat 28:5) To fear and have doubt about what happens after death now that Jesus has risen is an inconsistent thing in the believer’s life.
The empty tomb represents every person’s destiny. On the last day not one single body will be left in any resting place of all mankind. John 5:28 states “All that are in the graves shall hear His voice and come forth.” Those refusing the saving grace of Jesus Christ will face a white throne judgement of Him who is judge of all things. And what is your plea to Him? Will it be your own self-righteousness, or the very righteousness of Christ stamped upon your immortal soul? His perfection is the only pass mark for entry into eternity. Look at your soul is it perfect? If the answer is no, then the very flames of the lake of fire have been stirred up to greet you in a godless eternity. Your immortal soul won’t be destroyed, but it will face an endless torment. Do you really want to choose that kind of destiny?
Those rejecting Christ will be forced to stand not before the meek and mild baby Jesus, nor the bloodied man that hung on the cross, but the King with a sword in His hand. The trumpet call will sound and those who rejected Him will be forced to stand before Him. There will be no more opportunities of mercy given. The time will have run out and the doors of hope firmly shut. Death can’t make any improvement to a man’s character. Perhaps you may feel that you have both good and bad within you or any mix in between. In the resurrection of the righteous, there is none with mingled character of good and bad. As I said before nothing less than perfection is required to be able to stand before Him who is perfection. His stamp of righteousness must be upon your brow- the seal of the approval of His Holy Spirit which is received when we believe in the resurrected Christ.
On the last day books will be opened and those whose names are not found in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire. It isn’t a cheerful thought and not a destiny that anyone should desire. And what is this lake of fire like? Truly we don’t really know other than it is described as eternal torment. What I do know is that is an eternity absolutely without God. We know that God is light and that in Him there is no darkness. So what could the absence of God be like? No God no light, no warmth, unable to see any loved ones other than hear their screams. It is a darkness you can feel. No warmth absolute cold. Liquid nitrogen is used to burn off warts with extreme cold, but even that doesn’t come close to the lake of liquid fire bringing eternal torment to those who don’t have Jesus. It is a cold that burns and torments the soul for the rest of eternity. I remind you about what it says in John 3:36 “He who has the Son has life and he who has not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on Him.”
Resurrection life is the exact opposite to the spiritual death I’ve just described. I find it painful to discuss the harsh reality of a Godless eternity. I’d rather think about what the resurrection of the righteous will be like. Resurrection life when properly understood means happiness; power; activity; privilege; capacity; in fact it is a term so comprehensive that I should need no small amount of time to explain its’ merits. Resurrection life is not existence merely, but existence in energy, honour, peace, blessedness and perfection- or simply put- living in Christ.
What will be your eternal destiny? Make your decision now about the resurrection. The resurrection is true therefore we can be assured that the blood of Jesus Christ has the ability to set us free from our sins. When the single angel rolled away the stone, he sat upon it all very relaxed as if to say, ‘surprise, surprise. Why do you seek the living among the dead?’ The death of Jesus on the cross says it is finished and the price has been paid for your sin. Death boasted it would destroy Him and the grave boasted that it would contain Him, but the power His resurrection defeated them both. The empty tomb shouts He has risen; the victory over death has been won- it couldn’t hold Him and in Him death cannot hold us.’ Christ crucified reminds us of His payment. Christ glorified reminds us of His victory. His victory is our victory as we abide in Him.
CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON SAYS “The doctrine of the resurrection ought to be preached much more commonly than it is as vital to the gospel.” “The doctrine of the resurrection in the early church was the main battle-axe and weapon of war of the preacher… if we would honour Christ Jesus the Risen One, we must give prominence to this truth.” People speak of the resurrection of the dead as a marvel, but many resurrections take place every day as the spirits of dead men become born again. We are drifting along the river of time nearer and nearer to the ocean of eternity. So I ask you again. What resurrection have you chosen?
The empty tomb of Jesus gives mankind a confidence that death has been defeated. If you aren’t a Christian my prayer is that the reality of resurrection life will become yours today. I give you that opportunity.
SERIES ON THE RESURRECTION
SERMON 2: TWO RESURRECTIONS
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28-29) The purpose of Christ’s first coming was to save us from our sin. His final coming will be to collect us, the removal of everything that brings offense and the establishment of His eternal kingdom.
What happens after He collects you will depend on your belief about the truth of His resurrection. There are only two types of resurrection: one is to everlasting life and the other is to shame and everlasting contempt. The final day of earth’s history known as the Great Day of the Lord approaches faster than you think. Escape His judgement now and you won’t face it on that final day. If you have chosen the resurrection of the righteous, your vile body will be changed into a glorified one like that of Jesus. Words escape me to describe the eternal suffering of those who must face the resurrection of condemnation. What resurrection have you chosen? It isn’t too late to choose, but time is running out.
The purpose of this sermon is to offer you a choice about the type of resurrection you will receive.
Our body is a temporary tent and home for our eternal spirit. Death returns our body to the dust of the ground from which it was made. Our spirit can only go to one of two places, either to be with Jesus, or imprisoned in the holding cells of Hell. On the final day of earth’s history the spirit of every person will be reunited with a body that will live in either paradise or torment. What will be your destiny?
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Phil 3:20-21) On this earth our body is corruptible and subject to decay, gradually becoming weak through old age yielding to the blows of death. If not cremated, it becomes the food of worms. It is a morose thought, however in the resurrection the Christian will receive a new incorruptible body, unaffected by any disease, decay or decline, never again to yield to the force of death throughout all eternity. For the immortal spirit it shall be the immortal companion. No graves will be seen in heaven, there will be no need for them since Jesus has permanently defeated death for those willing to believe.
Jesus is the standard of man in glory and our present earthly body humiliated by sin will be conformed to the same form as His glorious body. It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet sound when the dead in Christ shall be raised first. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) In the resurrection of the just, the dead shall be raised incorruptible and shall be as God intended us to be- His eternal sons. We will be sinless, painless, and unable to die as Jesus Christ has defeated death for us. We will be shining like Jesus at His transfiguration on the Mount of Olives. We will no longer be wearing the filthy rags of our own unrighteousness, humiliation and sin. They will be removed and replaced with the robes of His righteousness, so white, the likes of which no launder on could accomplish. “Our body will be raised a spiritual body and joined with our eternal spirit, adapted to the noblest portion of our nature, suitable for our new grace given life in the dwelling place of heaven.” One day, our dead bodies will be planted in the ground like a seed and on resurrection morning our spiritual body will be changed beyond the beauty of anything grown- our human imagination can’t fathom the miraculous change. When looking at nature as a parallel for the resurrection, it is impossible to find an accurate one. Such is the grandeur of the power of God in the resurrection.
Mankind constantly seeks to discover a machine of continuous motion powered by a source of energy that never runs out. After the resurrection we will be powered by what mankind desired most on earth. In Christ we have the eternal source of life giving power that sustains us in an endless eternity of delight. I want you to understand in your spirit the power of this resurrection. My imagination is unable to give you a clear picture in words to describe your transformation on resurrection morning. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor 15:53) The trials of this earth grow strangely dim and pale into insignificance in the pleasure of an eternity with Jesus. When Christ raises the dead, it will be as a Saviour, to subject all things to Him-self. (Phil 3:21) Nothing in the way of salvation is impossible to Him. We need to be mindful of this fact for bringing our unsaved friends and relatives to Jesus.
“Now use your imagination and look down into your own loathsome tomb of this earth, and, if you can endure it, gaze upon the putrid, decaying mess that once housed your spirit and yes, even this is to be transformed into Christ’s likeness. He, who formed each atom from nothing, can gather each particle again from confusion. What a work this is and what a Saviour we have who is capable of even this. The trumpet call shall fetch them back from the dust with which they have been mingled, and dust to dust and bone to bone shall be rebuilt and refashioned on resurrection morning.”
It is impossible to describe the full benefits of the first resurrection. Many of those who haven’t chosen them are likely to become upset with. We live in an age where people become offended if the pampering and comfort of this world are disturbed by the images of the second resurrection. Many prefer us to keep them to ourselves. Yet they would be equally offended by Christians not throwing life vests to drowning people. On judgement day I’d rather people say he made me feel uncomfortable rather than why didn’t he throw me the life vest.
The second resurrection brings an eternity without Christ and is simply the reverse image of the first. There will be endless pain and suffering- a complete absence of light that makes it so cold that it burns the tormented spirits of those locked in that eternal prison. I urge you to escape from it today. Don’t rebel against God’s authority. Don’t reject such a great salvation. There will be a dreadful time of realisation for every person confined in hell. They must stand before the One they rejected and give an account for their unbelief and sin. Judgement comes quickly as they are cast away from His presence into the lake of fire and eternal torment.
Every person needs to take in this terrifying truth. Heb 10:31 says: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” There will be no resistance to the resurrection. Even if you didn’t believe in it, the irresistible power of God will draw you before the judgement seat of Christ. If the Hitler’s, the Pol Pot’s and other despots and terrorists of the world haven’t accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour, they will now face Him as Judge and “vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19) But the same will also happen to the smaller despots of this world who have placed themselves on the throne of their life and removed Jesus from it. Oh little despots- like Hitler you will have no other defence before God. If you rejected God’s rule over your life and made yourself king, you too will face the same judgement. Strong angelic arms will force you into the presence of the Saviour you rejected who will then become your Judge. If you will not believe God’s clearly declared truth, you must be left to give an account for your unbelief before God. Those who remain unbelieving perish in their sin, condemned by the truth they wilfully rejected.
Death is the last exploration point of human experience. It intersects this life and the next- “let us meet it not only with a calm spirit in the face of a difficult situation, but with expectation. Resurrection life is on the other side of that curtain of death. For why should we sorrow over those who have gone to glory and have inherited immortality? What is there, after all, to weep about concerning those who have passed into glory and are with their Lord? Let us in the next place cheer our hearts in the prospect of our own departure when He will present us with a crown of His glory.”
After the cross, Jesus spent three days and nights in hell, walked up to the devil, and grabbed the keys of hell and death from his hands saying: ‘these belong to me.’ Humiliated, the devil retreated to the deepest part of hell to hide his shame. Jesus says: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. (Rev 1:18) Then He rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God the Father “having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Col 2:15) The enemy is disarmed and at our mercy when we are sure of our authority won by the power of the resurrection.
Matt 28:18 “All power has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus Christ has the power of: self-existence, the power of creation, the power of sustaining that which is made, the power of fashioning and destroying, the power of opening and shutting, of overthrowing or establishing, of killing and making alive, the power to pardon and to condemn, to give and to withhold, to decree and to fulfil, to be “head over all things to His church,”– all this is invested in Jesus Christ our Lord. This is the power of the resurrection. Today I ask you to place Jesus on the throne of your life and to remove yourself from it, along with all other gods. You must make Him number 1 and submit your life to His governing authority if you want take part in the resurrection of the righteous. You must believe with your heart that God the Father has raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead, by the power of the Holy Spirit and confess Him with your mouth as Lord.
Say this prayer after me.
It seems some of you need to taste and see that God is good. Perhaps you have come here today and always wondered about the truth of the resurrection? Perhaps you need some proof that Jesus Christ is alive. Today you will see the power of the resurrected Christ because I am certain that Jesus Christ is not only alive, but His Heavenly Father is willing to affirm the truth of His resurrection power with signs and wonders following the preaching of His word.
SERIES ON THE RESURRECTION
SERMON 3: CAUSE AND EFFECT
Many people have sought to disprove the resurrection only to find out its truth and to believe. I fully believe that Jesus Christ was crucified, dead and buried and rose again on the third day from the grave. Today I’m going to consider what I would expect to see today if the resurrection never happened. I won’t be offended at my faith being critically examined. If I took offence at examination of my faith, it would be fair of others to ask how confident am I about it?
Today I intend to try to see if I can disprove the resurrection by assuming that He didn’t rise from the dead as the cause and then to consider then what would I expect to see today as the effect. It is my hope that in studying this it adds confidence as to the truth of the resurrection; that others will come to believe in it and lastly to demonstrate its power as proof.
1) If Christ wasn’t a real person then I’d expect the historical record to be silent and have no information about Him and the resurrection could never have happened.
A number of secular historical sources record the crucifixion of Jesus such as Tacitus in the Annals written in 65 B.C. Therefore the historical Christ must have been a real person. If the non-Christian sources affirm this, to say He wasn’t crucified or an historical person is contrary to the available evidence.
2) Where is the body?
There is an interesting film where Pilate sent a centurion who supervised the crucifixion to find the body of Jesus. The centurion couldn’t find it, but instead came across the resurrected Christ and His followers. There could be some fact in the story, we will never know. It doesn’t form part of the biblical account. However it is true that They certainly had the wealth and power to search and disprove the resurrection after His death.
The remains of other religious leaders after their death are often shrines for pilgrims. The decayed remains of His body if available should be somewhere on earth. Is that in fact the case? The historical record the bible and the eye witness accounts, tell us otherwise. The tomb and the body of Jesus were heavily guarded. His dead and lifeless body was placed in a sealed tomb with a large stone rolled over the entrance. The news of the resurrection could have easily been proven a fanatics lie if the body of Jesus could be produced.
The Jews were absolutely aware of the need to squash any resurrection festivities. They simply needed to remove the smelly and decayed body from the tomb and show it to the people after the third day which was when He said He would rise from the dead. No doubt this was foremost in their minds and the reason for the heavily guarded and sealed tomb. The Roman and Jewish historians didn’t record it. The wealthy religious rulers were never able to establish any evidence for this as a fact. Even now the silence of the empty tomb speaks very loudly on the world stage.
3) If the body was stolen why weren’t the soldiers executed?
The soldiers sent to guard the tomb trembled and fell to the ground when an angel rolled away the stone from the tomb. When they reported to the Jewish authorities what they had seen and that the body of Jesus was no longer in the tomb, the only course of action available to the religious rulers was to spread the lie that the Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body. The religious rulers bribed the soldiers to say this and then had to make it right with Pilate who would otherwise have executed the Roman soldiers for failing to fulfil their duty.
Another interesting fact to consider is Pilate’s silence about the matter. Perhaps he just wanted everything to go away and this was the easiest way. All of these events had a profound influence on him. We know He was afraid and at times more afraid at the trial of Jesus when they said He was the Son of God. But he was the Governor and exercised ultimate power in the region and he is silent. There is a principle in law that silence gives consent and so I suspect Pilate’s conclusion was that Christ had risen from the dead.
4) If the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body, the Jewish authorities would have been very eager to punish and execute the disciples.
Once again there is no historical record of prosecution against the disciples in world history. and I would expect them to have done it if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead.
5) Why are there so many Christian welfare institutions if the resurrection is untrue?
Many of the world’s welfare institutions such as World Vision are run by Christians. Interestingly, these organisations aren’t interested in a person’s religion before help is given. If the resurrection didn’t take place, these organisations wouldn’t be operating. Therefore I would expect to see so much more devastation in the world if the resurrection was untrue.
The bible itself is the most printed, most read and most translated book in the world. Nothing comes close to it. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then it wouldn’t have the number of copies sold today. The French philosopher Voltaire was a bitterly opposed opponent of Christianity and the bible. There is strong support that he made the claim that no one would be reading the bible in 100 years’ time. After Voltaire died, for nearly 100 years, his homestead was used as the book depository for the French Bible Society. They sold Bibles out of his house! It’s now a museum. People have forgotten Voltaire. Nobody forgets the Bible.
It is a secondary form of evidence, but if the resurrection were untrue then you wouldn’t expect the bible to have been the most read and printed book in the world.
6) Do professional people believe in the bible?
I’d expect the professions of this life not to believe in the contents of the bible if the resurrection were untrue. Yet many people from all professions are Christians- scientists, accountants, lawyers, doctors, nuclear physicists and any other you can think of. Are they all deceived? Wouldn’t the professionals then and now have been able to construct enough evidence to prove that the resurrection was a lie? It needs to be said that there are many professionals who don’t believe in the resurrection. It is just that I would have expected them to have obtained easy proof that the resurrection of Jesus had never taken place at the time it happened.
7) Why was the napkin found folded?
Mary Magdalen tells Peter and John the news that the stone has been rolled away and they run to the tomb and find it as Mary has said. John stops at the entrance, but Peter rushes in. The linen cloths that were wrapped around His dead body are on the ground, but the head napkin had been neatly folded and placed on the rock. Something you wouldn’t expect had the body been stolen as the guards were bribed to say. If the body had been stolen they wouldn’t have unwrapped everything, they just would have taken it to another location.
Interestingly in Jewish culture if the master of the house had thrown the napkin on the ground it meant that he had finished the meal and the servants could clear things away. But if it were folded it meant that he was coming back. Jesus was saying that He was coming back in resurrection life. The other bloodied grave clothes were thrown on the ground which shows that He had finished with sin.
8) If the resurrection were untrue, I wouldn’t expect to see you here today.
If it is untrue, I wouldn’t be here preaching to you and I’d be trying to extract every last ounce of pleasure that I could from what the world could give me. I wouldn’t be interested in you or what you think and I’d even try to exploit any wealth that I might be able to extract from you. I’d eat drink and be merry for tomorrow I may die.
All of the original disciples were martyred for their eye witness testimony that the resurrection is true. This wouldn’t have happened if the resurrection of Jesus had never happened.
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead, is a fact better established than any other in history. It is a fact which the gates of hell can never prevail against.
Beginnings of Christian Martyrdom:
The following account was written by the Roman historian Tacitus (A.D. 56-117) in his book Annals published a few years after the event. Tacitus was a young boy living in Rome during the time of the persecutions.
"Therefore, to stop the rumour [that he had set Rome on fire], he [Emperor Nero] falsely charged with guilt, and punished with the most fearful tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were [generally] hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius, but the pernicious superstition - repressed for a time, broke out yet again, not only through Judea, - where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, whither all things horrible and disgraceful flow from all quarters, as to a common receptacle, and where they are encouraged. Accordingly first those were arrested who confessed they were Christians; next on their information, a vast multitude was convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of "hating the human race."
In their very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights. Nero offered his own garden players for the spectacle, and exhibited a Circensian game, indiscriminately mingling with the common people in the dress of a charioteer, or else standing in his chariot. For this cause a feeling of compassion arose towards the sufferers, though guilty and deserving of exemplary capital punishment, because they seemed not to be cut off for the public good, but were victims of the ferocity of one man."
This account was written one generation after the resurrection. The historian Tacitus verifies the fact that the man Jesus Christ existed and was put to death under the authority of Pontius Pilate. Secondly, he states that great numbers of people were prepared to die horrific deaths for the Testimony of Jesus Christ. It is a strong form of secondary evidence supporting the truth stated in the primary sources of the biblical historical documents. Would you expect many people as stated in the non-Christian historical record to die such horrific deaths for a lie? Would normal people be prepared to do that? If the events of the death of Jesus under Pontius Pilate’s governorship never happened Tacitus wouldn’t have included it in his account of Roman history.
Today we are about to see signs and wonders take place because God the Father wants to affirm the truth of the resurrection of His Son. I ask you to consider how the things which you are about to see today could happen, if the resurrection is a lie. After this time of praying for people, I will give you the opportunity to commit your life to Christ and to be saved and enter into a saving relationship with Jesus.
If you take the Bible out of culture, you would destroy most of the major music, artwork, and architecture of the past 2,000 years. Even much of our English language comes from the King James Bible.
SERIES ON THE PASSION OF CHRIST
SERMON 1: THE AGONIES OF GETHSEMANE
If you’ve played a contact sport you know there are times when you just can’t escape the hit that’s coming. Just as painful in life are the spiritual blows that cannot pass. Life can serve up divorce, or a painful court case, an unexpected death of a loved one amongst many. The purpose of this sermon is to learn how to gain strength from Jesus when we must drink deeply from the cups of life that cannot pass. Jesus faced such a time in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In the Garden of Eden mankind’s greatest defeat came through one man’s disobedience. Yet in the Garden of Gethsemane one man’s obedience overcame our greatest defeat. The Garden of Gethsemane was the reverse image of the Garden of Eden. When I was a young Christian I met a man who said he had a Gethsemane experience. I didn’t really understand what he meant and I was left to ponder his meaning and to be honest I still don’t understand. Perhaps he was trying to overcome some significant temptation in his life. I don’t doubt his experience, yet it pails into insignificance when looking at what Jesus faced.
Gethsemane means ‘oil press’- an extremely prophetic name for what Jesus was about to suffer. Pressure is applied to produce oil that drips from olives. In the same way Jesus was placed under such spiritual anguish that his body literally dripped blood. Although aware of the physical suffering he must endure, what gave him the most anguish of spirit was the coming separation from His Heavenly Father. No need for the rulers to cry “Spring up O well” in the Garden of Eden it overflowed in crimson torrents from His tormented human spirit. It was as if the powers of Hell had given commandment to their legions, “Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king himself.” (1)
This may surprise many people but the devil never wanted Jesus to die on the cross. He wanted Jesus to betray His Divine calling and bow down and worship him as god. After Jesus was baptised at the beginning of his ministry, the devil tempted Him by offering the pleasures and riches of the world. All Jesus had to do was to bow down and worship him. Jesus refused and so should we. (Matt 16:22-23) “Then Peter took Him (Jesus) aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You! 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Peter was referring to Jesus walking away from the cross and his poisonous words came straight from the pit of Hell.
Jesus prayed three times in the garden for the cup of wrath to pass from Him. His own human and divine will must submit to His Father’s will or mankind will be eternally lost. Many people think God is unaware or doesn’t care about their suffering, but in the garden Jesus endured every evil thing that man has ever experienced or done as the weight of the world’s sin was placed upon Him. This was incredibly offensive to Him as He grappled with the full implications of what He was about to go through. In Gethsemane, Jesus was physically and spiritually molested by the powers of darkness.
People say ‘if God is a loving, then He wouldn’t send His children to Hell.’ I quite agree with them. He is loving and His children don’t go there but live with Him in eternity. It’s only the disobedient spirits of men and fallen angels who end up in Hell. The sons of God were never appointed for that place- unless like the devil they choose to rebel against God’s authority. Perhaps they make this excuse so that they don’t have to be accountable to a Holy God, or reason that if God is loving He will accept them anyway. A better question to ask is why would God go there Himself? Jesus spending three days and nights in Hell should satisfy the vengeance of those who say God is unfair. They fail to understand that Jesus took their place so that they wouldn’t have to go there. It should silence their objections and bring them to their knees when they realise the great price Christ paid for their salvation.
In the garden of Gethsemane, the devil saw his greatest of opportune times for Jesus to worship him. “Is it so Son of God that you have really been called to bear the sin of men? Are you really meant to bear such a mighty load? Look at your weakness! Even now, You sweat great drops of blood; surely You are not He whom the Father has ordained to be mighty to save; or if You be, what do you hope to gain by it? You have enough glory already. See what miserable people they are for whom you are to give up your life. Your best friends are even asleep unwilling to stand with you in this your dire hour of need. Even now I can tell you one of them has just betrayed and sold You for the price of a common slave. The world you sacrifice yourself for will cast out your name as evil; why then do you need to pour out your soul unto death? Look at the people you intend to die for. Look at them asleep. Even now they don’t appreciate what you are about to do, nor will they appreciate you after you’ve done it. You are about to be smitten of God and cast outside the city as an unclean thing. How will you feel when your loving mother and kinfolk stand weeping at the foot of the cross? Don’t you realise that if you go to the cross your disciples will be at my mercy and that I will sift them like wheat?”(3) The devil’s poisonous words were well aimed at Jesus.
After assaulting Christ’s manhood, his “It is It is not right or fair that your Father should treat you this way.” Please don’t think I’m putting words into the devil’s mouth. I promise you I haven’t misquoted him and the temptations plied upon Christ as I’ve described fall well short of what was said. Jesus told His disciples about the temptations in the wilderness and they were recorded, but the temptations of Gethsemane weren’t due to his arrest and subsequent crucifixion.
What would you do if you were Jesus? Would you use your Divine power to remove yourself from your greatest test, or use it and sacrifice mankind’s salvation? He could have easily called down 12 legions of angels to fight on His behalf to remove Himself from this terrible situation. In this we see the amazing love and courage of the Saviour as He allows Himself to pass through the wine press of wrath instead of us.
No-one will appreciate your sacrifice
And the poisonous words of the devil continue to drip, ‘no-one will appreciate your sacrifice and after it .’ The devil realised if Jesus worshiped him he would exercise real power as god. So he said to Jesus, Jesus had to overcome the temptation not to finish His greatest and most difficult task. Yet He endured the race to the death, the grave and to hell before His greatest victory of all- His resurrection.
For the first time in his life Jesus faced the prospect of being completely separated from the presence of His Father- the One to whom He had completely given Himself to His whole life. During His ministry, Jesus was completely aware of His Father’s protection. One time he was preaching in the Synagogue of His own home town and they didn’t like what He had to say so they decided to throw Him off the face of a cliff. Jesus simply passed through the midst of them as if not there. But now that protection was to be taken away. To be completely submissive to His Father’s will Jesus must subject Himself to the cruelty of man and depravity of the devil. Imagine what it’s like to be taken from your safest place and put into your darkest one. That’s what it was like for Jesus in the Garden.
To be clear Jesus said: “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?” In saying this, He was totally forsaken even from the fellowship and nearness of God the Holy Spirit. He was about to be cast aside as a thing of no value- of something of less value than a filthy rag. And the devil whispers to him ‘remember those ’ It’s true they won’t, but an angel appears to Him all the same to strengthen Him before enduring the crucible and furnace of affliction. The relentless pressure of the devil’s whispering continued, The acidic tongue of the devil sought to devalue the work of Jesus as a diversion not to finish His most important work.
Yet another anguish of spirit felt by Jesus arose from the horror of fully comprehending the meaning of sin. At Gethsemane, “He had a most distinct perception of its treasonable assault upon His God, its murderous hatred to Himself, and its destructive influence upon mankind.” (2) Christ now assumed more His official position with regard to sin. He was now made sin. “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” He approached the hour where His body had to bear what mankind so richly deserved. As the Father couldn’t look upon sin, Jesus was now utterly forsaken.
The greatest pressure to succeed
I’d like you to understand the type of pressure Jesus faced in the Garden. Human terms are really quite inadequate to describe it. This is an inadequate attempt. Imagine the soccer world cup. The scores are level and the siren is about to sound and you have just been awarded a free kick at goal. If you score the goal you win, miss and you go into extra time and could lose. In Gethsemane, the prize was of so much more valuable than the world cup. Our eternal destiny depended on Christ’s success and His decision to suffer the death of the cross. He scores the goal and we have salvation, He misses- we are eternally damned. Such was the tremendous pressure that Jesus faced on our behalf.
No way out
Jesus prayed to His Father asking Him if by some means this cup could pass from Him. He was saying, ‘Father is there any other way to save mankind than my dying this hideous death and being separated from You? Yet not my will be done, your will be done?’ There was no way out. He had to endure it to the maximum and drink from the cup until drained. Jesus was sure that our salvation meant His death and that there was no other way out. Behold His amazing love, courage and mankind’s undeserved favour.
More than likely there are people here today who have been completely unaware of the great and noble sacrifice Jesus made for them. He laid down His life for you who never loved Him, who never served Him, who were infinitely His inferiors and who show absolutely no gratitude for what He has done for you. Jesus died for those who would love Him and for those who refused it. The amazing thing is even if no one accepted His sacrifice on their behalf He would have gone to the cross anyway. It was the highest form of sacrificial love. As parents we often see the ingratitude of our children for what we do, yet this pales into insignificance when we consider what Jesus has done. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8
After enduring the devil’s assault, Jesus finally offered up the prayer of resignation. “Father, not my will be done, but Your will be done.” Then a calmness of spirit came as the angel strengthened Him. When you are tempted and desire to overcome, the best weapon is prayer. When force can’t avail you, take to yourself the famous weapon of All-prayer. Prayer opens heavens gates and shuts hells doors.
In the Garden Jesus suffered the maximum temptation ever inflicted by the devil and the worst spiritual molestation ever faced by a man. The torture of the cross was the fullest molestation ever devised by demons and the worst pain ever inflicted by man- Pain applied by those he was dying to save.
The vengeance of the devil fully applied
Failing to tempt Christ to walk away from the cross and realising he’d lost the battle, defeated and angry the devil applied the most fiendish of tortures ever devised by demons or men. There was hardly an unmarked piece of flesh upon his body due to the whipping. Most of his joints had become dislocated as the cross fell into the hole socket hole that held it up. The manhood of Jesus was exposed in an overwhelming anguish of spirit. He bore our sin and carried it like a massive weight on our behalf. It was like He was painted in it and this is what His Holy Father couldn’t look upon. Jesus was baptised in sin which soaked every fibre of His physical body, yet His spirit remained unstained as sin had no claim on or in Him personally. You may recall that Jesus said I have a baptism to be baptised with and this is what He was referring to. It was a baptism of fire. Jesus was now utterly forsaken.
Lessons from Gethsemane
We need to remember that Jesus received strength to face his greatest of trials after He arose from prayer. We need to do the same. When Jesus finally surrendered to His Father’s will it was a moment of complete tranquillity of spirit. It was like time was suspended. I’ve seen it in films when everything is seen in slow motion through the main character’s eyes shortly before everything is about to explode. Tranquillity of spirit is a resignation of our own will to the Father’s in the middle of our greatest struggle, trusting that His will brings about the greatest benefit. When we have struggles with our own obedience, we need to remember what Jesus faced in the Garden of Gethsemane as he submitted to His Father’s will and not His own.
If you aren’t a Christian you can turn your ingratitude into gratitude for what Jesus suffered- simply accept Him as your Lord and Saviour. When you do this don’t think you’re doing God the greater favour. As much as He loves you and runs to meet you today as His adopted son or daughter remember the sacrifice that it cost to bring you to this point. Your filthy rags of sin can be removed and replaced today with the robes of Christ’s righteousness. Simply believe on the work of the cross and the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To fulfil His greatest work Jesus needed to completely surrender to His Father’s will. If you are a Christian you will be successful in your calling by submitting to the Father’s will- even if it means falling into the hands of men. Many people have followed Jesus having been martyred for their faith, taking up their cross to follow Him. We need to be willing to do the same. “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6) The command of Christ “Follow me,” means walking hand in hand with Jesus to Gethsemane and even on to Golgotha, only this time it is us in the furnace of affliction. It is where we go before every Golgotha in our lives. It is the place of inner turmoil and agony of spirit yet at the same time the place of greatest tranquillity before the greatest of trials. The Garden of Gethsemane is about gaining strength of spirit when we must “drink deeply from cups that do not pass.”
(1,2) Charles H Spurgeon, 12 Sermons on the Passion and Death of Christ, Baker a Division of Baker Book House Co, 1994, p9
(3) Ibid 1,2 at p11
The Garden of Gethsemane was the only documented time that Jesus sought the help of His disciples.
SERIES ON THE PASSION OF CHRIST
SERMON 2: CHRIST OUR SURETY
Today’s sermon explains the meaning of Christ’s suretyship and the debt of gratitude that we owe to Him when He paid the price for our broken contract. This should inspire us to live a life worthy of the debt He paid on our behalf.
What is a surety?
It is a pledge or promise given by one person to repay the obligation of another. Banks sometimes refuse to lend to a borrower unless they have a surety- someone who will make the payments if they can’t.
In the Garden of Eden, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they obeyed His command they would have a face to face relationship with Him and would be the under-rulers of His creation. The tree was much more than a test of obedience. It was the one symbol to remind mankind that God was their sovereign King. High treason happens when someone removes the king from His throne and claims it for them-selves. Adam understood this and decided to be king of his life instead of God. Eve was deceived by the devil and they both ate. As a consequence of their high treason, the death penalty was imposed. An animal was killed and its skin used to cover the sin of their body. Animal blood was a short term solution for the covering of sin, until a better perfect sacrifice was made. As God had warned, Adam suffered immediate spiritual death and many years later died physically. Unless the surety paid the penalty for Adam’s high treason, he would remain spiritually dead to God throughout eternity. After this, God set about healing the broken relationship due to mankind’s sin.
Duet 27 reminds us that everyone failing to do all things written in the book of the law is under a curse. The blood drenched body of our surety hanging on the cross was a fearful sight. It acts as a reminder to all who refuse to accept His payment. Those who die with unforgiven sin must one day face God’s unrestrained fury. Acts 10:31 reminds us that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” If God did not spare His own Son in payment for our sin, what will happen to those rejecting His payment? It should have been us hanging on that cross. But Christ became a curse for us to pay our debt under the Law. A curse implies something more than just anger. God will give words of warning at first, but eventually the day of reckoning must come when the sword is sharpened for execution. Delivering the terrible justice of such a weighty law isn’t an easy task for me. Unfortunately many will not hear the blessings of the New Covenant without first hearing the threatening curse of the Old. Not that I am apologising for telling you the truth.
Heaven’s contract with Jesus as our surety was made before the foundation of the world. God in His foreknowledge was aware that we would sin. After Eden, God formalised in a contract the Laws mankind must keep, to enter into a perfect relationship with Him. The contract was quite simple. In summary, if Israel promised to be God’s people and keep the whole Law they would be blessed. If Israel rejected God and broke the Law, they would be cursed. From that time forward Israel received both blessing and cursing as their commitment to the Law waxed and waned. Our inability to keep the whole Law meant that our surety Jesus was required to make full payment. The penalty must be supremely just to satisfy Divine justice and morally unavoidable to preserve order and holiness. If God is perfectly just, He must punish sin because He cannot deny His own character. It is an inconsistent belief to say there is no hell, yet believe in the perfection of God. If He is perfectly just, then sin must be punished.
Jesus suffered the severest penal consequences for the Laws we ourselves had broken. It was a penalty paid in two parts of loss of relationship with His Father and an excruciating death on the cross. In His suffering, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”). (Gal 3:13)
The purity of Jesus was like a white Lily of the field, yet at His crucifixion our sin was placed upon His body as if He had committed them. It was like a thick blanket that blocked out the sun. The heavy chains of our sin clung to His sinless body. At Calvary, Jesus became the colour of a red Rose when His precious blood was shed. The soldiers who carried out the execution wove the barbs of a thorny stem into a thick crown, pressing it down heavily into the flesh of His skull. The blood pulsated from His head in excruciating pain. They worshiped Him in mock adoration even as His red blood flowed freely to wash away their sin. We should all seriously lament our wilful sin placed upon Him, but we should break forth into endless thanksgiving when we remember the words of His final breath, “It is finished!” The cross brought victory over sin, but the redemptive work of His resurrection was still to come.
As mankind’s representative, Jesus spent three days in hell separated from His Father. This thought was one of the severest agonies faced by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is no greater curse than everlasting separation from God. It is the destiny of those who have rejected Jesus as their sin substitute. At the conclusion of history, hell and all those in it will be thrown into the burning lake of fire. God is light and in Him there is no darkness. In absolute darkness there is an absence of heat that burns the miserable spirits of demons and men who have rejected such a great salvation. This is the ultimate and final curse for all law breakers eternally banished from God’s presence. Receive your salvation today and flee far away from this curse.
Many people do the devil’s work when they attempt to apply the Old Testament Law to those redeemed by Jesus. Rom 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We have all broken the Ten Commandments in some way. The Law that you have broken can’t make you righteous once it is broken, because it only proves that you are a criminal. The only way to be declared righteous once you have broken it is to have the righteousness of a surety applied to you. If you are in Christ and He has never broken the Law only in Him can it be said that you have never broken it. Only the merits of Christ’s perfection imputed to us will gain us entry into heaven. Not our own righteous adherence to the keeping of Laws that we have broken. Keeping the Law of Moses doesn’t connect us with Christ. Faith is the only hand able to grasp Christ’s finished work- our justification or declaration of innocence. The blood payment was the final pleasing and acceptable sacrifice to God for the remission of sin. The New Covenant is a better covenant because it is everlasting. It is a better Covenant because it has achieved the intended purpose of the Old Covenant that mankind failed to keep; it empowers mankind to walk in an eternal relationship with God and has brought about reconciliation and everlasting life.
Therefore what have I to do with you oh law? You say you will curse me, but I say Jesus Christ became a curse for me. How can you curse twice for the same offence? You have already cursed Jesus Christ instead of me. My friend Jesus has paid my debt and I have the receipt to prove it. The seal of the Holy Spirit is marked upon me as sufficient proof in any court of law that my debt has been repaid. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t pay it. Although I haven’t been to hell and suffered the full wrath of God, Jesus suffered it for me by paying with His precious blood.
When you stand before God the Law proves that you are a Law breaker and the penalty is death. Every person refusing to accept Jesus as their surety will face the second death penalty of spiritual death- eternal separation from God. No further punishment is required by those whose have accepted Christ as their surety. To avoid this you must place Jesus Christ on the throne of your life removing yourself from it- effectively undoing what Adam had done in the Garden of Eden. After this, in gratitude for the great price that Jesus paid for you, you should follow His example by living an exemplary life of sacrificial love for others.
“But I give you fair waning this day. The sin of rebellion changed an archangel into an arch fiend. Such was the curse that withered and angel into a devil and there is an even greater warning to the sons of God. If our rebellious sin doesn’t bring tears to our eyes, then the manifestation of sin in the form of our ingratitude certainly should. As much as we have sinned voluntarily, Christ died voluntarily to obtain our pardon. We were not forced to sin, but deliberately chose the evil way. The sin of rebellion is vile; but the sin of turning our back on the Saviour is viler still.” The quivering, blood drenched, lifeless body of Jesus on the cross should act as a warning of an even worse fate for those who have rejected His sacrifice. But it is not too late.
I ask those who have never accepted Jesus as their surety to do so now and be saved. I am giving you the chance to exchange your filthy rags of sin for the robes of righteousness that only Christ can give you.
(Heb 7:22) “…by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.”
The devil realised that no man had escaped death and until Jesus every man was held by it. He hoped to hold on tight to Jesus after His death, but Jesus walked up to him, ripped the keys of hell and death from his hands and said ‘these belong to me.’ The devil was made a spectacle in his weakness and all of his dark minions saw him flee to the deepest recesses of hell in fear and humiliation.
People often say how could a loving God send His children to hell? I quite agree with them because He doesn’t send them there. His children live with Him in eternity. It’s only the disobedient spirits of men and women who have rejected Him that end up in hell. Hell was created for the devil and his fallen angels and the adopted sons of God were never destined for that place, unless, like the devil, they choose to rebel against His authority. Rather than ask why a loving God would send you to hell, you should ask the question why He would go there in your place. If you think God unfair for sending people to hell, knowing that He went there Himself so that you wouldn’t have to, should take care of that unfairness. But death and hell couldn’t hold Him down and three days later He rose from the dead. His resurrection brought us victory over death and has given us eternal life.
SERIES ON THE PASSION OF CHRIST
SERMON 3: THE PRECIOUS BLOOD
Many years ago I was the accountant for an abattoir (or animal slaughter house). The slaughtermen had finished their shift and interestingly when I saw the palms of their hands, I noticed that they had become a very bright white. I put myself in their position of slaughtering a lamb, only in my case it was Jesus Christ the Lamb of God. You see, it was my sin and yours that put Jesus Christ on the cross that killed Him. We have all become the slaughtermen. The blood applied to the hands of the slaughtermen had the effect of completely cleaning their hands. In a similar way the blood of Jesus Christ applied to our spirit completely cleanses us from all sin.
God must punish sin. Without punishment, the conscience of the sinner would feel free to sin if the demands of justice for his crimes were not met. There would be no fear in God’s children for doing the wrong thing if they saw that sin was never punished. More than likely they would be encouraged to sin even more. People are often quick to criticise God for His willingness to send unrepentant sinners to hell, pointing out that He must be unloving. Yet, in the same breath they blame God for failing to exact punishment on the evildoers of this world, claiming it is an injustice. For God to forgive transgressors without exacting a penalty would be contrary to His own justice. However, as we will see God is both loving and just.
In the cross we see a strange coming together of what appears to be two conflicting attributes of justice and mercy. When we think of justice we think of punishment and mercy implies the overlooking of punishment. Yet mercy and justice kiss when we look at the cross. Our sin was placed upon God the Son and God’s wrath was poured out upon Him. It was supremely just as if no mercy was shown, yet at the same time He was merciful because the gift of eternal life was made available to His other children. It is like a court case where mercy and justice are on the same side- both the prosecution and the defence take sides to release the convicted sinner. The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate had the custom of releasing a prisoner at the time of the Passover. Both the innocent Jesus and the criminal Barabbas were brought before the crowd who valued a murder more than their God and Saviour. They called for the release of Barabbas and demanded that Jesus be crucified. The criminal changed places with the innocent and Barabbas was symbolic of us all, therefore Jesus died in your place too. Remember the cross was the victory over sin but the resurrection Jesus was victory over death.
Under both the Old and New Covenants, there is no remission for sin without the shedding of blood. Praise God that the blood of the New Covenant has a redeeming power that the Old Covenant never had. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” (Gal 3:13)
The New Covenant in Christ’s blood redeems us from the curse of the law which no longer remains our tyrant master. The thundering and lightning of conviction and prosecution under the law, loses its’ terror when we shelter under the protection of the cross. The blood of Jesus has atoned for our sin, winning our pardon with God who no longer sees us as criminals, but as His adopted sons. The cross has brought about our reconciliation with God through the cleansing power of the blood of His Son.
The precious blood of Christ has a cleansing power. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Sin is a plague to the man who has it and a hateful thing to God who abhors it. Sin is like a plague of fleas biting us robbing us from our sleep. The blood of Jesus cries out to us like the blood of righteous Abel and says: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Is 1:18) Truly we have peace with God through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ bringing blessing to those who have been justified (or declared innocent) by it.
I know how it feels when the devil whispers in my ear about some sin I’ve committed to keep me away from the presence of God. I know the terrible feeling of not wanting to come into God’s presence for shame and I’m sure I’m not alone. Many won’t come near to God, because they forget the blood. If you try to have fellowship with God on the basis of your graces, your experiences, your beliefs, you will fail; but if you try to come near to God as you stand in Christ Jesus, you will have courage to come; and on the other hand, God will run to meet you when He sees you in the face of His anointed. We need to always remember that we devalue the sacrifice Jesus made to secure our privileged position if we stay away from God. God our Father doesn’t see the sin because it’s been done away with. When He looks at us He only sees Jesus and His righteousness stamped upon us. When He looks at us He no longer sees what we used to be, but He sees Jesus. The old things of the past and even what happened the minute before we came to Him have passed away and all things have become new. Simply because we do not come before Him in our own righteousness, but through the righteousness of the One who bought us at a price.
The preserving power of the blood
“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Ex 12:13) Notice how the Passover had nothing to do with anything other than the blood that was applied. It had nothing to do with any of the good works that Israel had done. For the people of God I think it is fair to say that their good works were scantily thin. The Old Testament is a shadow of the reality found in the New Testament. There is a greater benefit of the blood of Christ applied under the New Covenant, than the blood of animals applied in the Old. All humanity will stand before the throne of God on the last day of mankind’s history. I’d like you to ask you this question. Has the blood of Christ your Passover Lamb been applied to the doorposts and lintel of your life? All humanity has assembled wave upon wave from every tongue tribe and nation standing before the judgement seat of Christ. He calls the angel of death forward who is responsible for waste removal and commands him to search for those who have rejected the Passover sacrifice of Jesus. The angel looks diligently searching for those not having the seal of the Holy Spirit upon them. They become objects of wrath and are thrown into the eternal torment of the lake of fire. However he passes over God’s adopted sons with the blood of Jesus Christ applied. They will have an eternal destiny in the presence of their Lord in His kingdom.
We feel humiliated when others see or hear of our weaknesses and failures. When this happens, we lose our self-esteem and our value. Jesus suffered complete shame and humiliation on our behalf so that we wouldn’t have to. We have been bought, bought with the most costly price heaven could pay and are now His precious possession. The Father now sees us as of the highest value, because He paid for us with His darling Son- His only begotten Son.
As much as the cross itself was the greatest physical death ever endured, Gethsemane was the greatest spiritual battle ever fought. The greatest struggle and the greatest victory of the cross, was that Jesus allowed Himself to be nailed to it. The cross was the atoning victory for mankind won by our Saviour. Christ’s Divinity needed to overcome the weakness of His humanity to agree to the cross. In a similar way, our spiritual man must overcome the man of the flesh. Although we have many battles against sin, when the man of the flesh rises against our spiritual man, the best way to overcome him isn’t to look at the current battle, but rather to the final victory Christ won on the cross. We need to remind our fleshly man that Christ’s victory of the past is our victory in the present and that the battle over sin has been won. We need to remind him, we won’t fight a battle that has already been won and so we will sin no more. So be silent man of the flesh and talk to us no more.
The melting influence of the blood
There is a great complaint among sinners, when they are a little awakened by the Spirit of God that they feel their hearts so hard. This shows that there is a melting influence of the blood of Jesus upon the heart of sinners. Preaching about the crucifixion and what Christ suffered for us is even a great reminder for those who have received their salvation. If you have trouble with habitual sin, you need to seriously look at the passion of Christ. Many people feel the burden of their sin and want it removed. Yet when they are told to do this and told to do that and do it, they still have little peace with God, until they understand what believing in the precious blood of Jesus means for them.
Jesus always remained the spotless Lamb of God in His Spirit, in His very essence even when on the cross. 1 Peter 2:24 says: “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree…” Although he bore, or carried our sin, He didn’t commit our sin. He took the load of it on His body, paying the penalty for it on our behalf. Christ was no curse Himself, but became a curse for us. In His person He was spotlessly innocent and nothing of sin could personally belong to Him.
The overcoming power of the blood
He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus fights with a weapon so powerful that it will cut through soul and spirit, joints and marrow, a weapon that makes hell tremble, heaven subservient, and earth obedient to the will of the men who can wield it. The power of the blood of Jesus releases power to bend prison bars, make doubts and fears flee and troubles and disasters disappear.
We should always remember the pain and suffering that Jesus incurred on our behalf, but equally, we should also remember the overcoming final words of His last breath. “It is finished”. Our sin pierced the side of Jesus and there is a cause for unlimited lamentation, but since the blood and water which flowed from His side has cleansed us from all sin, there is also cause for unlimited thanksgiving.
Until the devil faced Jesus, no man had ever defeated sin therefore death was able to hold every man. The devil feared the cross because he knew he would have to face God the Son in a final battle that he knew he could never win. Therefore he provoked Peter to try to convince Jesus not to go the way of the cross. Jesus responded by saying “get behind me satan.” The devil knew that the cross was the means or the way that mankind would be set free from sin and death. Therefore he tried every means to prevent Jesus from taking that path. Even then the devil held to a distant hope that he could hold Jesus in death as he had held every man till then. Before the cross, the devil was the holder of the keys of hell and death. After Jesus preached to the Old Testament saints in hell, He walked up to satan and ripped away the keys of hell and death from his hands. Completely powerless to stop Him the devil fled to the deepest recesses of Hell publicly humiliated in front of his legions. Jesus then led captivity captive taking the Old Testament saints into heaven. Such is the overcoming power of the blood that has permanently defeated the devil. Jesus holds the keys of death and Hell in His hands as a trophy. His victory is our victory. The devil could not hold Him down. The devil cannot hold us down in death and Christ won for us eternal life. In heaven we are beyond the temptation of sin because every good thing has been provided for us.
Today is the day for many of you who have never applied the blood of Jesus Christ to your life to do so. My cry to you is to be saved from your sins and the day of judgement. I call upon you by the authority of heaven to say this prayer after me.
TEACHING ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE BELIEVER
Kenneth E Hagin said: “The believer that is thoroughly conscious of the Divine power behind him and his own authority can face the enemy without fear or hesitation.” It is a very short yet profoundly powerful statement. Hagin also said: “Power on earth invested in the name of Jesus Christ and obtained by Him by overcoming the enemy, belongs to the church.” When authority is coupled with power the miraculous is never far away. These statements and the scriptures supporting them are a power house of the miraculous to those bold enough to believe them. For many years it wasn’t that I failed to understand who I was in Christ (the bible actually means what it says), but was afraid and lacked the confidence to exercise the authority I’d been given. That would mean stepping out onto the water with Peter, out of my comfort zone and do the things that are impossible to me, but possible with God. (Mat 19:26) Truly, my focus should be on Christ. If you are like me you have probably read these scriptures with a mental assent as to the truth, without allowing them full access to your spirit. We need to be fully convinced about our authority in Christ and use it.
“And he is the head of the body, the church…” (Col 1:18) but do you see yourself as part of Christ Himself? Does this make you feel a little uncomfortable? No I’m not saying that you are Christ, but as a part of His body, there is a very fine line of difference. Together we make up the body of Christ with Jesus as our head. When you pray do you see yourself as disconnected from Christ- a headless body? Do you pray for the cripple thinking that Jesus is far away rather than right there with you? I think many people pray from this false perception. Neither the head nor the body is independent from each other. The head can’t exercise authority without the body actioning the command. You will find it very difficult to pick up a bible if the only thing you use is your head. Although God is and does act sovereignly when He chooses, unless we as His body are prepared to action His commands, very little will ever happen. The feet walk to the work and the hands reach out to heal the leper. The same thing applies if we expect Jesus as our head to do all the work. He needs us as His hands and feet to action His commands as much as we need Him to instruct us. Truly the devil wants us to misunderstand who we are in Christ and to handcuff us with our own unbelief.
Where is Jesus? “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph 1:19-22) Most of us understand the position and authority of Jesus. But do we understand the power and authority He has given us? If we are in Christ and part of His body, then we have the right to say I am seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly places, along with all of the rights, privileges and responsibilities associated with that position. Do you think I have taken things a bit too far? Personally, I think I haven’t taken them far enough- “and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:6) Right now imagine the highest mountain you have ever been on and you are looking down. You see a spot way down there which appears to be moving. You ask Jesus ‘what is it?’ and he replies ‘Oh that’s only the devil walking around down there and although this distance is far too small, I wanted you to have some idea of how much greater your authority exceeds his.’ (Mat 28:18-19) Where Jesus is we are too! So let’s use our power and authority in reaching the world with the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Do you think it is too much for us to say ‘when I pray it is as if Jesus is praying?’ When Jesus prayed the outcome was certain. If we are His body and He is the head then we are part of Him so it might make us feel uncomfortable, but when we pray it is as if Jesus is praying and the outcome is certain. The only thing that defeats us is our unbelief and lack of trusting Him. By understanding the power and authority we have in Christ, we open the door to successful ministry. By virtue of the authority invested in me (us) in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we have:
We have POSITIONAL AUTHORITY because we are seated in the heavenly places in Christ far above all principalities and powers. (Eph 2:6)
We have DELEGATED AUTHORITY directly given by Christ who is in the position of all authority (Luke 10:19)
We have COMMISSIONED AUTHORITY he has sent us out from the church and not to sit in it. (John 15:16)
The three forms of authority: positional; delegated and commissioned demonstrate the triune nature of God given authority discussed later.
Our authority has a very practical outworking in our ministry:
God will perform signs and wonders through us. Demons must recognise our authority in Christ and flee when we use it (Luke 10:19) and sicknesses must yield to the power of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Mark 16:17-20)
Our authority is recognised by all principalities and powers whether in heaven, on earth or under the earth and must bow and submit to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 14:11, Eph 1:19-22)
Access to the keys of the kingdom and the storehouse of heaven. (Mat 16:19)
Capacity to bind on earth and loose in heaven. (Mat 16:19)
God given ability demonstrated by the power of God through the miraculous. (Luke 10:19 authority and the power) In a fallen world authority must flow from power.
Because we abide in Christ, we can ask what we desire and it will be done for us. (John 15:7)
Every spiritual blessing available to us in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph 1:3) Natural blessing flows as a consequence from spiritual blessing. Expect it! However, only expect to receive what you appropriate.
No weapon formed against us shall prosper and every tongue that rises against us in judgement we shall condemn because we are the righteousness of God in Christ. (Is 54:17)
It’s easy to read these scriptures and say amen! Hallelujah! Preach it brother now take a look at the practical outworking of them in your life and ask yourself the hard question. How much am I appropriating them in my life? When I do it makes me squirm as I realise how much I have devalued the word of God. I very actively apply the scriptures offshore and yet I am so slow to apply them where I live. Slow, scared, lazy, busy, sinful and many other justifications I make to justify why I devalue the word of God. Personally, I really need to make some changes. What about you?
I recently watched a Kathryn Kuhlman video on YouTube for the first time. Her miracle healing services were legendary. I thought I’d watch it to capture the heart of her ministry. Shortly after I watched another video entitled: “The Three Keys to Kathryn Kuhlman’s Success.” The speaker said he sought God for eight months to find them. They were:
She honoured the Holy Spirit.
She expected miracles.
She gave the Holy Spirit the freedom to do what He wanted.
I would add that she was prepared to pay the price. She was asked the question “how do you prepare for your meetings? She replied, “By always staying prepared.” This demonstrates her willingness to pay the price through her obedience and availability to do the will of God. Being prepared is only achieved through a close, uninterrupted relationship with God. When you watch and listen to Kathryn there is nothing remarkable about the way she presents herself, she is of plain appearance and didn’t have outstanding oratory skills. Due to her closeness with God the anointing that rested upon her was undeniable. I suspect Kathryn was a modern day Mary and Martha combined. Like Mary, she spent time at the feet of Jesus, but like Martha was prepared to act upon the lessons learned when she believed Jesus would raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. Kathryn visibly demonstrated her authority in God to a world hungry for the miraculous.
The ministry styles of Kenneth Hagin and Kathryn Kuhlman are completely poles apart, yet both undeniably have the same Holy Spirit anointing. Both the relational style of Kathryn and the teaching style of Hagin resulted in the miraculous at their meetings. Different ends of the spectrum yet with similar results and for our ministry everything in between is also possible. Our ministry doesn’t have to be the same as theirs and should be developed as led by the Holy Spirit. Where there is no power to back up authority, authority is unrecognised. Unbelievers won’t accept what you say if there is no demonstration of the power of the authority you claim to possess. In Christ you have both the authority and power to use it. As the body of Christ there is no time to be timid or afraid. It is time to stand and take the kingdom for our God and Christ. You can be forgiven for feeling a bit shell shocked after reading this. I know I am. The question is do you dare to believe it? It means stepping outside your comfort zone and believing God for the things He says you have. I believe His heart is hungry for His children to use His authority. He wants us to claim our inheritance in Christ to bring His kingdom here on earth. Hagin says: “Some Christians stop at the cross. You need to pass beyond the cross and on to Pentecost and after that to the very throne room of God where you are seated in heavenly places in Christ, where all things are under His feet.” Christ is the head and we are the body. The feet are part of the body therefore by extension all things are under our feet. Being timid isn’t an optional extra for the Christian. An element of Christian maturity is the application of the demonstration in power of the authority we possess. However, we may pass through a number of stages as we learn to exercise our authority.
The first is when we believe God actually means what He says. The planted seed of faith germinates and we start stepping onto the water testing our God given authority. God meets us even catching us before we sink affirming even our tiniest faith. This excites us but He will often remind us that He is the source of our power and authority. He shares His glory with no-one. We progress to see God’s hand move in even greater ways even the resurrection of the dead. A peace comes in our ministry because we know that God will meet our faith in amazing ways. We start ministering with expectation rather than trepidation and we delight in what God is doing in and through us.
“And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mat 7:28-29) I want to be like Jesus! Jesus reclaimed for us the dominion that Adam lost and as part of His body that dominion now belongs to us.
Understanding the heart of our Heavenly Father brings us into a deeper awareness of our authority as believers. Sadly some people view their authority only from a fallen perspective. Is this how you feel? ‘I know that God wants to save me but to say He wants to give me His authority takes it too far. After all He is God and I am a sinner saved by grace.’ It is true that you are a sinner saved by grace, but if you stay there, you base your future relationship with God from a fallen heart and not a redeemed one. Unfortunately many preachers preach from this platform. In truth, our God given authority is all about His relationship with us as His children and from His desire for us to become His mature sons and daughters. Failure to understand our authority limits our effectiveness to extend the kingdom of God and enjoy a full relationship with Him.
Christ, the Believer’s Rod of Authority
The concept of authority as demonstrated by Christ in almost all respects is the inverse to the way the world views authority. In the world authority is usually obtained by the force of power to obtain a desired outcome- world wars are based on this premise. If you don’t recognise our authority we will demonstrate it by exercising our power to obtain what we want.
Christ who had all power and authority came to earth as a servant and not be ministered to by others but to minister to them and to serve. He demonstrated that authority is about serving others and not obtaining what we want for our own purposes. Christ demonstrated the kingdom principle of meekness which is not weakness but controlled strength. It isn’t timidity or cowering fear but the use of constrained power for the benefit of God’s children. He had the power to take by force and make mankind submit to His will, but chose controlled strength giving others the freedom of choice.
The worldly concept of love is I will love you if you meet my expectations and submit to my will (authority), which is the opposite to the love of Christ who loved us even when we were yet sinners.
The authority of the believer is one of the “all things in Christ.” The Father has invited us to partake in the victory that Jesus has won. We have been raised up with Him and made to sit together with Him in the heavenly places. (Eph 2:6) To share a throne means to participate in the authority which it represents. Therefore we must never underestimate our position of authority and His ability in us to extend His kingdom. The devil and his angels are pushed to the side, and the red carpet is rolled out before us. The carpet is stained red to remind us of the victory that the blood of Christ won for us at Calvary. Our Father invites us to walk upon the carpet and share the throne of Christ. There, as the body of Christ we take our seat with Jesus as our Head. Can you see the picture? There is no choice here we are made to sit there, it is where we are! Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father at the centre of all power and authority and we have been elevated to sit with Him. This has great significance for the outworking of our ministry. What is our perceived position when we pray for the sick? Do we see ourselves as sitting on the throne of all power and authority when we pray?
What we pray for is significantly limited by the extent of our spiritual apprehension. We must never forget that it is “exceeding greatness of His power towards us who believe.” (Eph 1:19) and it exceeds any circumstance or disease. Jesus takes us onto the battle field of His victory. His enemies are brought before us and cast before our feet. He tells us to place our foot on their necks and to look down on them. Such is our position and that of the devil if we can only believe it. We must see ourselves as we are and the devil and his dominions as they are- powerless at our feet with our foot on their necks. The devil is compelled to recognise our authority without any doubt, but, or maybe. We should constantly remind ourselves that we are perfectly positioned in Christ to extend the kingdom of God here on earth. I am probably making some people feel very uncomfortable at this point so I might as well continue. These things have made me squirm as I have prayed and thought about them. The authority of the believer is in part what it means to be partakers of the divine nature mentioned in 1 Peter 2:4. No I’m not saying that we are God but He has given His children the amazing privilege of partaking in what He is like. We sit at our Father’s table and eat from all that he sets before us including His delegated power and authority. It is part of the things we have inherited as a result of Christ’s resurrection. Behold the spiritual power of the resurrection.
Over the last week each morning I have seen a piping shrike attack the mirror of my neighbour’s car. It mistakes its’ own image for a competitor. It never learns that there is really nothing there and fights a battle that it neither wins nor loses. I think many people have the same attitude when they fight the devil. I see them constantly getting stuck into him which is a good thing to do, but the next day they are at it again over the same issue. Like the piping shrike they fight him again seemingly in a battle that they neither win nor lose. Scat! devil is quite sufficient when we believe Luke 10:19-20 “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
When fighting against Amalek (Ex 17:8-13), Moses held up the rod of God’s authority over Israel. Aaron and Hur had to hold up his hands when he tired. This shows the authority of God committed into the hands of men. It was only by their sustained resistance that brought the victory. When Moses lost strength in his arms and lowered the rod of God’s authority Amalek prevailed, but when raised Israel prevailed. Therefore it wasn’t by the might of Moses or the strength of Israel that brought victory, but by the authority of God that was lifted up. This showed them that victory could never be achieved in their own strength. When we neglect the authority we possess in Christ (lowering our rod of authority), our circumstances will prevail against us until we are once again prepared to lift up our authority over them. Let us not dishonour the word of God that reveals these things with an unbelieving heart believing less than what it has clearly said. We are the New Testament saints of the heavenly places in Christ. God expects us to use His authority
When the Egyptians pursued Israel they believed they had them trapped. The Lord tells Moses that He will gain complete victory over the Egyptians. The Lord develops many interesting life principles through this encounter.
Israel was hemmed in but it was the Lord who did it. He did it for Israel’s benefit and His glory. Can you see any parallels with this in your own life?
God expected Moses to use the position of authority he already possessed. The Lord’s response was fascinating. “Why do you cry to me? Moses recognised that God would do something amazing but failed to understand the authority he had already been given and that God expected him to use it. So it is with our authority in Christ. We cry to God and God says to us why do you cry to me? Don’t you know that I have already given you the authority? Go and use it!
“And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” 15 And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. 16 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:14-18)
When Moses finally uses the rod of God’s authority miraculous deliverance followed. The New Testament saints are the same. We often cry to God to move in our circumstances when He has already given us the rod of His authority which He expects us to use. God commands us to move forward holding up the rod of His authority above any circumstance we face and to see the miraculous follow. We need to be bold enough to believe it and to wield it in every situation.
The picture of Moses, Joshua and Hur holding up the rod of authority is an amazing picture of the Godhead. One God represented by one rod lifted above the three Persons that possess it. Each Person of the Godhead equally owns the authority as symbolized by the three pairs of hands holding the one rod.
In the centre is the positional authority of the Father as head. The Father’s will sent both the Son and the Holy Spirit to fulfil their ministry here on earth. His will is done and can never be undone. There is no higher authority than that of the Father. His supreme will is final and everything must submit to His positional authority. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are quite comfortable with the Father having this position. If in personality Jesus had taken on the role as Father and the Father had taken on the role of Son the outcome would have been the same. As Jesus has said “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) The same can be said of the Holy Spirit had He taken on the role of either the Father or the Son. Therefore to each is ascribed co-equality in every respect. Glorify one and each is equally glorified, as in essence each one is the same.
Australians like to back the underdog and there is a tall poppy syndrome mentality in us that likes to see the elite fall. We like the weaker football teams to win against the more powerful ones and to see the failure of politicians full of their own greatness. However, for Christians, when it comes to our authority in Christ and our exercise of it, there should be no compromise with people wanting to bring us down, in particular the devil. Make no mistake we are the head and not the tail and have a great position of authority. The world will want to pull us down to their level and this can never be tolerated. Jealous murmurings by people envious of the success of great preachers and pastors are a disgrace. God will always deal with them over time.
Our authority can best be understood by the relationship between King David and Mephibosheth, Jonathon’s crippled son who used to sit and eat at the King’s table. David was consoled after Jonathon’s death when he saw Jonathon’s likeness in Mephibosheth. Our heavenly Father gives us the same privilege. We can dine with Him because He sees Jesus in us and not any infirmity or sin. The merits of Christ have covered our sin and shame that formerly crippled us. We can’t view our authority and power as a right gained by any of our merits, it is a privilege won by the sacrifice of Christ entitling us to walk in the wake of His victory.
In the framework of this authority Jesus says: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” (John 15:16)
“When I lay hands upon people for a specific thing, I tell you, that thing will take place. I believe it will be so, and I never turn my ears or my eyes from the fact. It has to be so. The gifts of divine healing are more than audacity; they are more than unction. Those are two big things; however, the fits of healing are the solid fact of a divine nature within the person pressing forward the very nature and activity of the Lord, as if He were there. We are in this place to glorify the Father and the Father will be glorified in the Son since we are not afraid of taking action in this day.” Smith Wigglesworth, Devotional, New Kensington 1999, p480