Gospel

The Incomparable Christ II

Continuing our thought process on the Incomparability of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Luke continues to show His divine grace, wisdom and power through His actions. In the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, we see how Christ responds to prayer. In the healing of the masses, we see how Christ responds to all who come to Him. In His preaching in Judea, we see that Christ’s mission is the spread of the Gospel.

In Luke 4:38-44, Jesus visits Simon’s (Peter’s) house. There, he finds Peter’s mother-in-law sick of a fever. In ancient times, fever was a dire situation. They had few medical options, and the best they could do was offer rest, water, nutrition, and trust God for the best.

When Jesus arrived, they appealed to Him. In essence, you could say they prayed for her. While there is a lot to be said for prayer, what we see in this passage is how Christ responded to their pleas. He responded to their appeals by healing Peter’s mother-in-law. The Lord brings healing.

As the sun set, those in the village who had sick relatives brought them to Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. This shows us that Christ will turn no one away who repents and turns to Him for salvation.

Finally, Jesus said that He was sent to preach the Gospel to all the cities of Israel. This shows us that the mission of Christ is to spread the Gospel throughout the whole world.

Check out Pastor Leland Acker’s message posted above, and see how the attributes of Christ make Him incomparable to anyone else, ever.

The Incomparable Christ (Luke 4:31-37)

In his book, The Incomparable Christ, J. Oswald Sanders explored the life, character and divinity of Jesus Christ in a way that left the reader in awe after every chapter. It’s definitely a book that should be on every Christian’s reading list.

In the same way, Luke captures the essence of Christ by recording His acts, teachings, and the teachings about Him. In Luke 4:31-37, several amazing attributes of Christ are on full display as He heals a demon possessed man in the synagogue in Capernaum. The three most prominent are the power (authority) of Christ, the vision of Christ, and the compassion of Christ.

The power of Christ is on full display as the demon has to obey the Lord’s command to come out of the man. Christ is so powerful that even His spiritual opponents must obey Him. He has power over all creation, yet He uses that power on behalf of His people.

The vision of Christ is such that He not only sees us at face value, but He sees our hearts, our inner-most emotional workings, our trauma and sin nature, and He sees what we could be if healed. That brings up the third attribute on display, His compassion.

The compassion of Christ is such that, not only does He see our hurts and scars, but He heals them. Physical, Spiritual and emotional healing are available to any who will believe.

Christ really is incomparable. For more, check out Pastor Leland Acker’s message on The Incomparable Christ.

Introducing the Christ

In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus returns home to Nazareth, where He visits the local synagogue and reads from Isaiah 61. His visit came after having spent time preaching and teaching along the shores of Galilee, near Capernaum. Those who had heard Him preach glorified Him, and He had apparently performed some miracles along the way.

The passage He read at the Nazareth synagogue was a Messianic prophecy concerning the healing and restoration that Messiah would bring, a reference to the power of the Gospel. The people, however, were unimpressed, wishing that He would rather perform some of the same miracles He did in Capernaum. When Jesus confronted their hardness of heart, they tried to kill Him, but He passed through them and escaped.

In reading the opening of Isaiah 61, we are reminded of the power of the Gospel. It is the Gospel that brings healing and eternal salvation. We are also reminded of Who Jesus really is, and why we should place our faith in Him. Ultimately, we are reminded of the hope that our faith brings.

The Tragedy of Balaam’s “Star” Prophecy

Numbers 24:17 is often cited as the verse the Wise Men found that led them to seek out the newborn Christ. While scripture does not confirm that, it is still a prophecy concerning the coming of Christ.

The tragedy of Numbers 24:17 is not in the prophecy itself, but who gave the prophecy. Balaam was not a Godly man, nor was he a man of faith. When he prophesied of the coming Messiah, and the glory of Christ, he did so as an outsider, one who would never experience the blessing of that glory.

How tragic it is to see the glory of Christ, and the blessing of life, and never receive that blessing yourself. It’s like being stuck in a dark place that is surrounded by light.

We Three Kings

One of the more fascinating stories in the Bible is the story of the wise men who came to visit Jesus when He was born. With little more than a bright star that lit the night sky as a guide, the wise men traveled a far distance to worship the newborn Messiah. What motivated their journey? How did they know of Christ?

There are a lot of good theories and stories out there, but since none are backed by scripture, we may never really know. The good news is that their motivation is not key to the message of the scriptures.

Matthew wrote His Gospel to record the life of Jesus, to record His teachings, to demonstrate the redemption He purchased on the cross, and to prove that He is the Christ based on how He fulfilled Old Testament scripture.

With that context, the message of the wise men takes shape. From this passage, we learn that Jesus Christ is real, that He redeemed us from sin, and that He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy foretelling His birth in Bethlehem.

These lessons should make Christ more real and tangible to us, and should teach us to rest in His grace and salvation.

The Boy Jesus (Luke 2:41-52)

The Gospel of Luke teaches us Who Jesus is by telling us everything we need to know about Christ. Jesus is identified as the Christ by His identity, teaching, and mission.

In Luke 2:41-52, we are given a peek into the childhood of Jesus Christ. This is the only look, aside from His birth, that we are given into the life of Jesus before He became an adult. What we see in this snapshot of Jesus’ childhood is a boy that is already empowered by the Holy Spirit. He is already God in flesh, and this makes sense, as the angels who heralded His birth didn’t say, “Come see the future Christ,” but rather announced, “Come see Christ the Lord.”

This passage puts to rest the notion that Jesus wasn’t born Christ, but rather became Christ. Had Jesus not been the Christ prior to this passage, He would not have had the wisdom to be able to confound the doctors of the Law in the Temple. His wisdom and teaching in this moment can only be explained by His divinity.

In this passage, we see the divinity of Christ, the wisdom of Christ, and the mission of Christ. The divinity is shown when Christ declares that He is in His Father’s house, the Temple. The wisdom is shown in his interaction with the doctors and lawyers. His mission is shown in the words He spoke, translated by the KJV as “I must be about My Father’s business.”

Check out the video above to see Pastor Leland Acker demonstrate Who Christ is from this passage of scripture.

Grace, Mercy and Sacrifice in the Christmas Story

Matthew is one of the most fascinating individuals in the Bible. He was a publican who collected taxes from his own people on behalf of an occupying empire. The people saw him as a traitor. The Pharisees believed that he couldn’t go to Heaven. He was a social outcast, and his only friends were the other marginalized individuals of his day: prostitutes, sinners, disabled, and other publicans.

Matthew knew what the religious folks thought about him, and he was well acquainted with their hatred of him. When he held a dinner for Christ, Jesus was criticized for dining at his house.

Yet, Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple, and He called him while he was in the act of collecting taxes. What’s fascinating about Matthew is his rise from social outcast and wretched sinner to being one of the men closest to Jesus. Furthermore, he becomes one of the four authors who wrote an account of the Gospel.

Matthew was a tax collector. He was a financial guy with an eye for detail, and who knew how to find authorization for anything. Thus, as Matthew gives his account of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he is careful to point out how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament.

He gets right down to business in chapter 1, as he shows the genealogy of Christ, then records how His birth fulfilled scripture.

Enter Joseph.

No matter how you analyze his reaction to the news that Mary was expecting, he conducts himself with grace, mercy and faith. He was a very faithful man.

Tradition teaches that Joseph believed Mary to have been unfaithful… a rumor dispelled by the appearance of the angel of the Lord. Joseph, being a loving and forgiving man, was willing to give Mary a private divorce and spare her the shame and punishment for her alleged transgression. That is, until the Angel intervened, and Joseph learned the truth and stepped into his role as step-dad to the divine Son of God.

Had that been the case, then Joseph acted with Grace and Mercy. He was gracious in that he showed undeserved favor to Mary, in being concerned for her well-being. He showed mercy by considering a private divorce as opposed to a public stoning. All of these are Christlike attributes.

Despite our sin and rebellion against God, and our betrayal against Christ, the Lord gave His life on the cross to redeem us from sin. He showed grace and mercy in giving us time to learn the truth, to come to faith, and to repent and believe.

We should not only learn about God’s love for us, and realize the grace and mercy He bestowed upon us, but we should extend Grace and Mercy to each other.

However, suppose Joseph knew the truth. Suppose he knew exactly Who the child Mary was carrying was. Suppose he, believing that the virgin would conceive and bring forth a son, decided that he would not defile the virgin. To honor God, he would quietly break-off the engagement so that Mary could live the purpose God had for her.

In doing so, Joseph was giving up what was most precious to him, his beloved wife. That’s sacrifice, which is also a Christlike trait.

Jesus sacrificed the glories of heaven, comfort and adoration in order to live among sinful men, and give His life on the cross to redeem the very people who were mocking Him. He gave up what was precious to Him for our well-being.

From this, we learn how valuable we are to Christ, and we learn that, like Christ, we should not approach life with a “what’s in it for me” attitude, but rather, “how can I help?”

And finally, as we see the angel of the Lord give assurance to Joseph, we see Joseph respond in faith. Joseph’s faith was marked by his obedience to God’s will.

Obedience is an act of faith. Is your faith revealed in your obedience, life choices, and priorities?

There is a lot to learn from Joseph’s reaction to the news of the birth of Christ. May we all turn our hearts to the Lord so that He can transform us, so that our actions reveal the faith He was cultivated within us. God bless you, and Merry Christmas!

What Child is This? (Luke 2:22-40)

Simeon was a man who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would live to see the day that Christ would arrive. Think about how amazing that must have been?

How would you feel if you knew that scripture would be fulfilled in your lifetime? How would you feel knowing that you would live to see the second coming of Christ, and the establishment of His Kingdom on Earth?

How would you be impacted if that which you believed in your entire life was suddenly real, tangible, and right in front of you?

All of these were realities to Simeon, who in Luke 2:22-40, was overcome with his excitement and lifted up his praises toward God. In his and Anna’s praise, three observations are made:

  1. Jesus is the Christ.
  2. Jesus is Salvation.
  3. Jesus is Redemption.

The Christ is the Anointed One, the Chosen One, the Messiah. In scripture, God made multiple promises to Israel, and He made many promises to us. Each and everyone of those promises would be fulfilled by the Christ. Simeon identifies the Christ as Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus is Salvation. It’s His very nature, and it’s even in His name. The name “Jesus” literally means “The Lord is Salvation.” Jesus gave His life on the cross to save us from our sins, from darkness, from hopelessness, and to bring in everlasting life, and eternal reward.

Jesus is redemption. Redemption means to be liberated from bondage by the payment of an outstanding debt. We were in bondage to sin and condemnation, but Jesus liberated us by paying our sin-debt, that we may go free.

Simeon’s words are deep and profound. Check out Life Point’s worship service, posted above, and learn more through Pastor Leland Acker’s message on “What Child is This?”

The art of self-deception

The scariest verses of the Bible are not the ones where plagues are pronounced and massive destruction happens. The verses that should scare you are the ones where someone entered the presence of Christ thinking they were Spiritually sound, only to find out they were still lost the whole time.

Consider the words of Christ in Matthew 7:22-23:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Here, you have a situation where people were in the Lord’s presence on judgment day, finding out that they were never saved, and thus stood condemned. They protested, saying they had done a lot of wonderful things for the Lord, yet He proclaimed, “I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

These people had probably spent a lifetime doing works that looked good on the surface, but beneath the surface were impure motives and sinful desires. Yet, they convinced themselves that, because what they were doing was good, the ends justified the means.

They justified themselves, and placed their faith in their works, rather than the Lord, who would have cleansed them from all unrighteousness, justified them, and received them into Heaven.

But because they justified themselves, they deceived themselves into thinking that they were doing God’s work. Consider the words of 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Without a real relationship with Jesus Christ, without repentance from sin, pride and dead works, while turning toward and placing your faith in Christ, you are still lost. Any “righteous” works that you do will still leave you short of Heaven.

If you assess your life and conclude that you are without sin, you are also performing the art of deceiving yourself.

The lesson learned from Sardis, posted in the video above, is that you can believe yourself to be in good shape, and have a reputation of being a solid, Spiritual person, and still be Spiritually dead.

Heed the words of Isaiah 1:18, bring your sins to the Lord, and allow Him to cleanse you.

When the church forgets its first love…

In Revelation 2-3, Jesus dictates letters to the seven churches of Asia. These are actual letters written to actual churches who were dealing with actual issues. Our Lord’s words are not to be taken as allegory, but rather teaching in response to certain situations that had arisen in His churches. We are to take the lessons He taught them, and apply them to our lives.

In the first letter, addressed to the church at Ephesus, Jesus praises their ministry and faithfulness, but He takes issue with one thing… they lost their first love. This problem is so serious, it threatened the very existence of that church. So, what was the first love they left? That question has fueled much debate. In this video lesson, we decode the letter to the Ephesians and learn what the spurned first love was.