Gospel

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 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.

Hope (Daniel 9:24)

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Daniel was a man who had done everything right, yet, time after time, adversity and tribulation troubled him. Captured from his homeland of Israel during his younger years, he was one of several elite captives taken from Israel and enslaved in Babylon.

Though Daniel’s assignment wasn’t the worst, he worked personally for the Babylonian king, he still faced troubles, from impure foods being offered, to being thrown in the lions’ den, to seeing his friends thrown in the fiery furnace. (Daniel and his friends were delivered from all of those, by the way).

By the time we get to Daniel 9, the Babylonian empire has been conquered by the Medo-Persian empire, and Daniel is now working for another king. Having lived through the entire Babylonian captivity, Daniel now sees the light at the end of the tunnel,  and the captivity is coming to a close.

Daniel sees God’s deliverance coming, and it is at this time that God begins to show Daniel how He will redeem His people and restore the nation of Israel. In Daniel 9:24, the Lord gives us his plan:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

God would redeem His people, and restore His nation, by ending man’s rebellion, cleansing man from sin, and establishing His Kingdom on earth. Listen to Pastor Leland Acker discuss this message of hope below:

Did Dr. King Know What Was Coming?

More than 51 years later, it is still chilling to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., conclude his iconic “Mountaintop” speech with the following words:

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

In concluding this speech, Dr. King asserted that he did not fear death, because he knew God would bring about the racial equality and justice for which he advocated. He compared his plight to that of Moses, who did not get to enter Canaan with the Israelites, but was allowed to go to the mountaintop, and look over into the promised land. Moses died on that mountain.

Did Dr. King know he was in his final hours? Less than 20 hours after giving that speech, his life would be claimed by the assassin’s bullet. Yet, Dr. King was not deterred by the threat of death. His commitment: “I just want to do God’s will.”

What makes the Mountaintop Speech so chilling is that you get the idea that Dr. King had been given a full view of God’s will, the future of humanity, and the glories of His kingdom. Having been to the “mountaintop,” Dr. King’s commitment to doing God’s will has elevated, and he no longer (if ever) feared what would happen in his life, or to his life.

A similar occurrence happened in the Bible. The Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:22-24:

And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Notice the similarities.

Dr. King said, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.”

The Apostle Paul said, “I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing what things shall befall me there.”

Dr. King said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”

Paul said, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Both men were keenly aware of where they stood in life. Both men were committed to their causes to the point of death. Both men were driven to advance their message.

Both men were driven by their faith, which was so strong that it had become real to them. We don’t know if Dr. King literally had a mountaintop experience like Moses, but we know that his faith was so strong that it in itself became the mountaintop. Likewise, Paul was so driven by his faith that God’s Kingdom was tangible to him as well.

Such is the nature of faith. The stronger it gets, the more tangible the things of God become. Which is why Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith makes God tangible!

Maybe that’s why we don’t see God move this powerfully in our own lives. Maybe our faith is not strong enough. Maybe we don’t really believe in anything.

Seriously, what do we stand for? What drives us? What gets us out of bed in the morning? What motivates us to speak, or post on social media? What did your preacher preach about last Sunday? And what did yall study in Sunday School?

We, as Christians, need to figure out our “why.” Why go to church? Why give an offering? Why pray? Why read scripture? Why work? What is our motivation?

We cannot invent our “why.” Our “why” is inherent in who we are. So, to find our “why,” we have to find ourselves. While finding yourself sounds like a man buying a motorcycle for a cross-country road trip in the middle of a mid-life crisis, it’s not. It’s simply going back to your roots, and who you are.

And, if you are a Christian, here’s who you are. Here’s who we are.

We are sinners, who, like the rest of the world, were condemned by God for our sin. We’ve all broken God’s law. None of us are righteous. No, not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

But God loved us so much, that He sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, to Earth to live our experience, then give Himself on the cross for our sins. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).

While on that cross, Jesus took the wrath of God for the sins of the world, more specifically, He suffered God’s wrath for every individual’s sin. Our sin was paid for on that cross (1 John 2:1-2).

Realizing our sin, and our sinful condition, we surrender to the Lord, and trust Him to save us by virtue of His payment on the cross. In doing so, we confess our sin, and confess our inability to save ourselves. (John 3:16, Romans 5:1, Romans 4).

We symbolize our faith and salvation through baptism (Romans 6:1-10).

With this renewed understanding of life, and with the Spirit dwelling within us, we become new people (Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 5:17).

The question is, “Do you believe that?” and if so, do you believe it strongly enough for it to motivate you? Is God’s salvation in your life your “why?” And if not, why not?

When you pray, what are you really asking for?

Every Sunday, members and visitors to Life Point Baptist Church request prayer for a variety of circumstances. (We take prayer requests during Sunday School and morning worship, and each request is prayed for specifically). These requests range from healing, to financial provision, to reconciliation within the family, to a revival in our nation, to comfort from grief.

Each and every one of these requests is borne of a fear, a concern, a pain, or other turbulence in life. At the root of each of these requests is a desire to be delivered from the torment of the situation. In essence, each prayer request is a request for peace in the congregant’s life. This is a request we pray for, and a request we sincerely hope God grants.

If it is peace you seek in life, scripture says that God freely offers that peace. Romans 5:1 says “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

To be justified means to be declared not guilty because the punishment has already been paid. Scripture teaches that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Each of us has broken God’s law, the 10 commandments which instruct us not to put anything before God, not to take God’s name in vain, to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, to honor our parents, not to kill, lie, steal, commit adultery or covet.

Scripture also says the consequence of sin is death and eternal damnation under God’s judgment (Romans 6:23). Yet, 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ went to the cross where He suffered God’s wrath for our sin on our behalf. He paid the penalty for our sin. Therefore, all who believe that He died for their sin, and trust Him to receive them into Heaven are saved from God’s wrath, and have a future in Heaven with the Lord.

Since this salvation comes by believing in the Lord, the Bible tells us we are “justified by faith.”

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“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:1

This peace that the Bible references is two-fold. First, we have peace with God in that we are no longer enemies to God, but rather have been made friends with God, and are adopted as children into His family. Secondly, having been justified by faith, we experience a peace with God that surpasses understanding, that allows us to be in good spirits even when life around us is crashing.

This peace allows us to rejoice and praise the Lord when times are good, and enables us to rejoice and praise the Lord when times are bad. That peace cultivates a hope that, as we endure what life throws at us, we continue to look forward to that day that the Lord rescues us from this world and welcomes us into His eternal peace.

It is our prayer that you find that peace. Should you have any prayer requests, you can submit them below:

Seeing God pt. 1

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Job both had it all, and lived a life that honored God. The Bible tells us that he was immensely wealthy, had thousands of livestock, hundreds of servants, and a good family. More important than his material wealth, Job was described by scripture as a man who was “perfect and just, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

If anyone deserved the continued blessings of God, it was Job. Yet, God allowed Job to lose everything. Why?

In Job 42:5, after having gone through so much suffering, Job said to God, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now I have seen you with my eyes.”

That was the goal God set forth from the beginning. God used everything Job endured to transform his faith to where God was more tangible to him.

In Job 19:25, Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and will stand upon the earth at the latter day.”

Job’s use of the word “redeemer” is interesting, because it usually referred to the process of being purchased out of a debtors prison, or debt-driven servitude. Job, until chapter 1, had been a rich man. He wasn’t a man sold into a debtors prison. Yet, here, he refers to his “redeemer.”

Job used that word because he understood that life was not about the wealth and experiences he had in this world. Life is about what happens in the next. He was looking forward to the Lord coming, and redeeming him from this life to the next. He had this faith prior to losing everything, and losing everything refined this faith as the book progresses.

Everything God does, He does to bring us into His presence. Once we understand and trust that concept, our life’s experiences take on new meaning.

The first step in this is to understand our redemption. Listen below as Pastor Leland Acker discusses what a redeemer is, Who our Redeemer is, and what we’ve been redeemed from.

If seeing meant you’d have to believe, would you still want to see?

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In 1995, Joan Osborne took center stage on the American Rock and Pop charts with her break-out hit, “One of Us,” a song that explored the idea of God coming down to earth to live life as a common man.

Osborne’s vocals in the song were a higher-pitched, soft approach meant to mimic the innocence of a child’s questions about God. It may not have been the intent, but Osborne’s song opened the door for theological discussion, much of which centers around the fact that the premise of the song, God living with us, was fulfilled by Jesus Christ approximately 2,000 years ago.

Among the many questions and thought provoking ideas, the song asked one pointed question, “If God had a face, what would it look like? And would you want to see, if seeing meant that you would have to believe?”

Would you be willing to see God if it meant having to believe on Him, on Jesus, and trust Him to the point that you would give your life to Him? Would you receive a sign from God if it meant you would have to repent?

Or is it easier to remain in darkness, stay in doubt, and numb your Spiritual perception with plausible deniability.

This question was put before King Ahaz in Isaiah 7.

The Kingdom of Judah was under seige from the northern Kingdom of Israel and Syria. Through the prophet Isaiah, God told Ahaz, King of Judah, that He would not allow this assault to stand. He then added this caveat, “If you will not believe, surely you will not be established (strengthened).”

Basically, God told Ahaz that He would stand up for him and fight for him, but if Ahaz did not believe, it would do him no good. Then, God put forth an offer in Isaiah 7:11, “Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.”

Here, God offered something to Ahaz that He hadn’t offered to anyone else. God was willing to confirm His presence, existence and love to Ahaz by giving a miraculous sign… and the sign could be anything Ahaz requested, either in the height above or in the depth below. Essentially, Ahaz was handed a blank check.

Ahaz was given the choice… see God and believe? Or refuse to see God and reject Him.

In Isaiah 7:12, Ahaz said, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt (or test) the LORD.”

Ahaz did not want to see, because he did not want to believe. And thus, the words of Jesus Christ were fulfilled in him, when Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that Light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil (John 3:19).”

Ahaz’ rejection aside, God promised a sign.

“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (God with us).” – Isaiah 7:14.

Though Ahaz rejected God and refused His sign, though Ahaz did not want to see, because he did not want to believe, God would send a sign, His only begotten Son who would be born of a virgin.

And while Ahaz did not live to see it, Christ was born. Being the Spirit of God indwelt in a body of flesh, the world got to see God take on the form of man and live life as a commoner. He lived, worked, suffered, struggled, hurt, mourned, grieved, prospered, and faced the same issues in life we face. Thus Hebrews 4 says He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

After living the life of a commoner, and relentlessly traveling, preaching, teaching and healing, Jesus went to the cross where He died for our sins, clearing us of the guilt and blame, was buried, and rose again the third day, conquering death. This was done in full view of thousands, with many writing personal accounts of the Gospel, four of which are recorded in the New Testament.

Joan Osborne’s question has been answered. The sign offered to Ahaz was given. The question is, do you want to see Jesus for Who He is? Do you want to believe? Or are you willing to ignore Him, in the hopes that plausible deniability will deliver you?

It won’t.

See. Believe. And watch God transform you.

Who Is This Jesus?

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In the Gospel according to Mark, scripture demonstrates who Jesus is by showing us what Jesus did. Throughout the book of Mark, you can see the various attributes of Christ, from His compassion, to His love, to His righteousness. You also see His power and His authority.

Mark continually demonstrates who Jesus is, culminating in two questions Christ asked His disciples in chapter 8, “Whom do men say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?”

Those questions forced the people, His disciples, and even us today, to consider and understand Who Jesus Christ of Nazareth is. Indeed, this question has gripped the world since His crucifixion, when even the Roman centurion confessed, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Why is He addressed as Jesus Christ, and sometimes Christ Jesus? Is Jesus the Christ? And if so, what is the Christ? These questions are answered in Mark 8.

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I am,” the disciples gave several answers. Some said that Jesus was the reincarnation of John the Baptist. Others said He was the reincarnation of Elijah. Yet others believed He was one of the Old Testament prophets risen from the grave.

King Herod believed that Jesus was John the Baptist, risen from the grave to exact justice for his murder. Others in Jesus’ day believed He was a revolutionary, sent to overthrow the Romans.

The debate over who Jesus is continues to this day. Muslims believe He was a prophet. Many Jews believe He was a man of wisdom. Some believe He was a great teacher. Some a wise revolutionary who changed the world with His doctrines of peace and love. And some deny His existence altogether.

The issue, however, isn’t what others think about Jesus. It’s who YOU believe Jesus to be. Hence, the question Jesus asked Peter, “But Whom do you say that I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

This was a huge confession from Peter. The Christ was the Anointed One God promised to Israel. This Christ would end sin, restore the Kingdom, and deliver the people from Israel. Peter understood, as scripture taught, that Christ would be the Son of God.

In this confession, Peter expressed his total faith in Jesus. The Christ, the Messiah, would deliver Israel. He was the One that the Old Testament foretold, that God promised, and through Whom God’s blessings would come.

Peter’s faith was that God would not only keep His promise, but that He had already kept His promise, and Jesus was the One through Whom God’s promises were kept. In this faith, Peter’s hope was in Jesus, and Jesus alone.

Indeed, our hope is in Jesus Christ, and Christ alone. Our hope for forgiveness of sins, for redemption, for eternal life, is all in Christ.

In Mark 8, Jesus then expounded on Peter’s answer by explaining that Christ must go to Jerusalem, be betrayed, turned over to the Gentiles, and crucified. However, on the third day, Christ would rise from the grave. It was at that point that Peter rebuked Jesus, saying “Be it far from you, this will not happen!”

Jesus then rebuked Peter, calling him Satan, and telling him that he loved the things of man, not the things of God.

Peter’s hope and faith was in Jesus. Peter trusted Jesus in all things, and knew without a doubt that Jesus was the Christ who would come and redeem Israel. Peter was a saved man.

However, instead of savoring the Spiritual salvation and eternal redemption Christ would purchase on the cross, and instead of resting in the love of God and seeing how all other blessings flow from that love, Peter desired the earthly victory of seeing Jesus crowned King, and the Romans overthrown.

Peter was a saved man, but his mind was still on earthly things. He wanted to see his nation restored. He wanted to serve in the King’s court. He wanted to be somebody. Though he were a saved man, his mentality was not really that different than the rest of the world. That’s the mentality that Christ confronted.

Like Peter, we too can become preoccupied with the things of the world. We look to the Lord to deliver us from an overbearing boss at work, or to provide us with the next promotion. We think that if we can just live up to God’s standard, God will bless us with an upper-middle class lifestyle.

We count our victories in terms of checks cashed, promotions earned, recognition given, and status symbols won. A significant amount of Christian literature and Sunday sermons teach that God will reward faith by giving us these victories. But, if checks cashed, promotions earned, recognition and status symbols are what we’re after, then how are we different from the rest of the world? We’re not!

What separates the Spiritual Christian from the worldly Christian, and from the rest of the world, is that we are content to endure whatever state God places us in, knowing that our true reward is when Christ returns and establishes His Kingdom. Our focus is not on this world, but on the next.

This focus brings us hope. That hope is built on the fact that when Christ died on that cross, He took the punishment for our sins. When He rose from the grave, He conquered death so that we can have eternal life.

That’s who Jesus is to us. He is the Only Begotten Son of God who freed us from condemnation by giving Himself for our sins, and rising again to conquer death. Therefore, He is the deliverer who will rescue us from the pain of this world and take us into His Kingdom where there will be eternal peace.