Back to the Beginning:
When Church was Church
Raising the Dead
READ Acts 9:36-43
I'm not going to argue with you today about whether the Dead CAN, Should, Are, raised from the dead today.
Have I seen it happen? No. Do I know anyone personally who has done it or been there? NO.
Can it happen if the Lord desires and we ask in Faith? YES
Did Peter raise this person from the dead? NO
Who did? JESUS / God
Could anyone have prayed the prayer Peter prayed and have been used by God to bring the woman back? Perhaps, Most likely if the Lord willed.
So? We often think it is the work of the Preacher to "do the 'God-stuff' to heal, to save, to counsel, to strengthen
I want us to focus though today on our most likely encounter with "dead" people.
That is those who are "dead in their trespasses and sins"
Let's use this TRUE story as an object lesson or allegory for what we can do to be used by God in seeing the Dead RAISED.
It seems that we are spending a lot of time lately talking about Soul Winning, Witnessing, Reaching the Lost.
Well … isn't that the first job of the church?
I'm not asking if that's the first thing we DO, I'm asking if that's the first thing we were commanded to do.
So, how are we doing? If we are going back to the beginning, we've got to take the Challenge, to Witness to, Win, and Baptize.
So what can we learn about the Lost from this Physical illustration when dealing with the Spiritually dead?
Well the first thing we see about this Lady's condition is SHE IS REALLY DEAD.
And we need to see those without Christ as they are …
1. They Are REALLY Dead v37
This woman was REALLY dead, she hadn't passed out, she wasn't in a coma she was dead.
They had already washed her body, the beginning stage of burial preparation. If she wasn't dead, they would have figured it out.
She was dead, ready for embalming and burial
A. I See dead People
Well, spiritually speaking, when we look out at this world, we need to "see dead people"
But they didn't become sick and died, they were born DEAD
… sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men … 14 … death reigned … even over those who did not sin by breaking a command … 15 … man died by the trespass of the one man …
Col 2:13 says that we are DEAD in your sins and in … your sinful nature
B. Destined for Hell
1. For those of us who know Christ, the grave is just a portal into Eternal Life
2. For those dead in their sin, the grave is a portal to Eternal Separation from God, goodness, and grace
3. We don't like to talk about hell, but Jesus has more words in the gospels recorded about Hell than about Heaven
a. Mt 3:12 - unquenchable fire
b. Mt 7:13 - wide is the gate and broad the road that leads to destruction and many enter it
c. Mt 10:28 do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell
d. 2 Thes 1:9 they will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power
e. Rev 20:15 if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire
Let us see those without Christ like this woman … they are REALLY dead
The Second thing we can learn from this story is to …
2. Ask For Help v38
Mt 12:22 - brought a blind, mute, demon-possessed man to Jesus and he healed him
Mk 8:22 - brought blind to Jesus
Mk 2 - Four men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus
And here they sent for Peter
A. Get some Help
1. If you don't believe you are "READY" or equipped, Ask for help from someone else
2. If you understand and feel that they are dead, lost, hopeless without Christ, are you going to be stopped by the fact that you don't feel qualified?
3. If your child or spouse, or friend is sick or injured are you going to leave them alone if you aren't medically trained to meet their needs?
4. would you leave a stranger laying on the side of the road without at least calling someone?
B. Lay the groundwork
1. build a relationship with them
2. build credibility
3. invite someone else to come WITH you to witness to your "dead" friend
C. Learn to Witness from the Example of the one who helps you
See them as Really Dead
Get Some Help …
3. Separate the Dead from the Mourners
Peter put the mourners out of the room
A. Mourners Believe in Death
1. Mourners not only BELIEVE that the dead are dead but believe that they will STAY dead
2. Their expectation was for her to STAY dead
B. Believers Separate Themselves
1. Separate YOURSELF from the "unbelievers" (don't believe in the Power of God)
2. Separate the DEAD one from the "unbelievers" -
3. build a relationship with them - spend some one on one time with them -
4. bring them to the preaching / teaching of the gospel - introduce them to your "believing" friends
5. Challenge them to Read books, watch a video, listen to a CD
6. OUT of a Trusting relationship, be willing to engage in healthy debate, if you are comfortable, to shake them out of the belief in the "mourners" who would keep them "dead"
4. Seek God's Intervention v40
Peter got down on his knees and prayed
A. Recognize that Only God can save
1. John 6:44 no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day
2. John 14:6
3. John 6:47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life, I am the bread of life
4. Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved
5. Jesus Prayed and wept over Jerusalem
B. Ask HIM to do what ONLY he can Do
1. Col 4:12 - Epaphras was one who "wrestled in prayer for others"
2. Ro 10:1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved
5. Give a Strong Challenge v40b
A. "GET UP"
1. if you've done the work and built the relationship, your relationship should be able to withstand you offering a challenge
2. let THEM know they are dead and challenge them to GET UP
3. let them feel and understand that your challenge is NOT a put down or a personal judgment but because you are deeply concerned for the most important thing they have, their soul
4. Don't stay the way you are
5. Challenge them to truly investigate the claims of Christ and their ramifications IF they are true - SHARE ABOUT EMAIL
6. Engage them through the process
that is …
B. Take them By the Hand
1. let them know that you will be with them through every step of the way
2. you aren't going to leave them on their own after they get up
3. eventually they may move from "what if this is True" to "what if I accept it and live in it" - let them know you will go through it with them and the discipleship process
4. Mt 28:20 says NOT just to and baptize them but to disciple them and teach them how to live the life
6. Show the World
A. Presented Alive to the Church
1. encourage them to make their decision public
2. Scripture teaches it
3. they need it
a. need to be strengthened
b. need the body for growth
4. need to follow in obedience to be baptized
B. Presented Alive to The World
1. encourage them to tell their story
2. word gets around
3. has Jesus changed your life? Who are you telling?
7. God Moving Builds Momentum
1. "many people believed in the Lord"
2. do you believe God raises the Dead?
3. what are you doing about it?
4. When we begin to see people come to Christ it is contagious - we just need to "catch it again"
God took Ezekiel to a deserted battlefield full of dead men's bones and asked, Son of Man … can these bones live?
Well, look out across your community across St. Louis and ask the question … can these bones live?
I read that a Swedish Dr. once placed a series of terminally ill patients on sensitive beds on a scale and in his findings determined that he thought the soul MUST weigh 21 grams because the bodies would lose that moments after they died.
Well I don't know about the weight of a soul but we must ask the question, What is the WORTH of a soul?
Is it worth our time invested in building relationships?
Is it worth our money offered to further the cause of the church and the mission field?
Is it worth the inconvenience?
Is it worth the embarrassment of being called a radical or Jesus Freak?
Is it worth crossing the street, the office hallway, the city, the county, the country, the ocean?
What is the soul worth to God?
> Your Soul is worth a Father's release of his one and only son.
> It is worth laying aside Heaven and all it holds, the endless praise of a myriad of angels.
> It is worth traveling across the universe to an insignificant little village in out of the way country forgotten by most of humanity.
> It is worth becoming a baby in Mary's womb, born out of the scandal. It is worth growing up in insignificance, ministering God's grace between shouts of adoration and calls for his head.
> It is worth being lied about and submitted to an illegal trial and pronouncement of judgment.
> It is worth the scourger's whip.
> It is worth the thorny crown thrust on his head, his beard plucked out, his face spat upon.
> It is worth the cross he carried on his weary shoulders that had born the weight of every human sin.
> It is worth the executioner's nails, the insults hurled, the mocking, the unbelief.
> It is worth a death in shame and the Father's turned back.
> It is worth the darkness of the tomb.
> It is worth the stone rolling away in triumph.
> It is worth seeing YOU walk through the gates of Heaven and experience the joy of an Eternity in his presence.
That's what the Soul is Worth to God
What is it worth to YOU?