Our First and Foremost Message Is Jesus Christ!
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 2, 2013
*The Apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, and here is part of what he said:
21. . . "'It shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
22. Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know
23. Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;
24. whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it." (Acts 2:21-24)
*Dan was a friend of mine years ago back in Georgia, and he was a good man, one of the deacons at the Baptist church we attended. I liked Dan a lot. He was friendly, he had a good sense of humor, and he cared about people.
*But I remember the conversation we had about the difference between Islam and Christianity. Dan had made friends with a Muslim man at work, and he began to compare the two religions. Dan thought about the fact that they believe in one god, and we believe in one God. They believe in right and wrong, so do we. We both believe in living a moral life. So Dan said, "I don't see the difference between Islam and Christianity. We both serve the same God."
*Dan couldn't have been more wrong. The difference is the cross! The difference is Jesus Christ! And that makes all the difference in the world.
*Consider The Dome of the Rock Islamic Shrine in Jerusalem. If you have ever seen a picture of Jerusalem, you have seen The Dome of the Rock, because this shrine is the most prominent building in the city. It was built on the Temple Mount. Finished around 692 AD, the Dome is the oldest Islamic building in the world. Its location is one of the holiest sites in Islam, only surpassed by Mecca and Medina.
*On the interior walls of the Dome of the Rock is an inscription that includes these words: "O People of the Book! Do not exaggerate in your religion. . . The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His Word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and say not 'Three' - Cease! (It is) better for you!
*God is only One God. Far be it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And God is sufficient as Defender. The Messiah will never scorn to be a servant unto God, nor will the favored angels. . . It befits not (the Majesty of) God that He should take unto Himself a son. . ." (1)
*The evidence is clear: Islam is an anti-Christ religion. Therefore, it was inspired by the devil, and tragically, one billion Muslims are following a false faith into hell.
*Jesus Christ is the Son of God! He is unparalleled, incomparable and without equal. Jesus stands alone! And this part of Peter's sermon shows us how the Lord stands alone.
1. First: Only Jesus is able to save us.
*We see this truth in vs. 21, where God's Word says: "And it shall come to pass, that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." There is no other name that can save us!
*By Acts chapter 4, Peter and John were thrown into jail for preaching about Jesus. And when they were hauled before the rulers the next day, Acts 4:7-12 says:
7. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?''
8. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
9. If we this day are judged for a good deed done to the helpless man, by what means he has been made well,
10. let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
11. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'
12. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.''
*Jesus stands alone! Only He is able to save us.
On Jan. 2nd of 2006 there was a tragic disaster at the Sago Mine in West Virginia. Twelve miners died after an explosion rocked the mine that morning. They were killed not by the blast, but by the toxic carbon monoxide that filled the mine shaft where they we trapped.
*Of course, this tragedy captured national attention. And the story was even more tragic, because initial media reports brought hope that all 12 miners could be rescued. But only one man survived. His name was Randal McCloy
*The recovery and rehab for Randal was excruciating. As part of his emotional healing, Randal wrote a public letter to the families who lost their loved ones. The letter was dated April 26, 2006, and told some of the miners' final activities. Randal spoke of their multiple efforts to get out, to secure shelter from the poisonous gases, and to signal their location for rescue teams.
*After these futile attempts, he noted: "We were worried and afraid, but we began to accept our fate. Junior Toler led us all in the Sinner's Prayer. We prayed a little longer. Then someone suggested that we each write letters to our loved ones. I wrote a letter to Anna and my children. When I finished writing, I put the letter in Jackie Weaver's lunch box, where I hoped it would be found." (2)
*It was a terrible tragedy, but "Junior Toler led us all in the Sinner's Prayer." Those men may not have been saved from the mine, but they were saved forever from hell, because "whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved!"
*Jesus stands alone. Only Jesus is able to save us.
2. And only Jesus was approved by God the Father.
*As the KJV says in vs. 22, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know. . ."
Jesus was approved by the Father... The NIV says: "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know."
*"Accredited" is a word I can relate to because I remember Mary stressing out over SACS accreditation. That's the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and if you lose your accreditation, you are in big trouble.
*Jesus was "accredited." He was approved by somebody a whole lot more important than the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools! Jesus Christ was approved by our Heavenly Father. The word picture behind that word "approve" was "to point out or exhibit." And notice how the Father did it. It was through the "miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him."
*The many miracles of Jesus Christ: He did so many that the last thing John said in his Gospel was this: "There are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen." (John 21:25)
*Those miracles of Jesus, so many that the last thing John said in his Gospel was "there are many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."
*Those miracles were a huge sign God the Father used to point to the Lord and say, "Here He is! This is the One. Jesus is the Messiah!" Nobody else could walk on water and open blind eyes. Nobody else could feed 5,000 with a few loaves and fish. Nobody else could calm the storms and raise the dead!
*Jesus stands alone! Only Jesus was approved by God the Father.
3. And only Jesus was appointed by the Father to be our sacrifice.
*We see this truth in vs. 23, where Peter said this about Jesus: "Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death."
*The sacrifice of our Savior was God's plan all along. But why was the sacrifice needed? It was needed because of our sin. I think of the mob that rabidly screamed out for the Lord's crucifixion. We may have never hated Jesus like that. But because of our sins, we are just as responsible for the Lord's death on the cross. As Igor Stravinsky once explained: "Sin cannot be undone, -- only forgiven." (3)
*We desperately needed a sacrificial substitute for our sins, but why did Jesus have to be the sacrifice? -- Because Jesus was the only one qualified to die for others. And Jesus was qualified to die for us, because He had no sin of His own.
*When God gave the instructions to Moses for the first Passover, the LORD said this in Exodus 12:5-7:
5. 'Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
6. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
7. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.'
*Your lamb shall be "without blemish." The sacrifice had to be spotless, WITHOUT BLEMISH. God used that phrase 40 times in His Word.
*Untold millions of animals were sacrificed in Old Testament times. When King Solomon dedicated the Temple, 2 Chronicles 7:5 tells us that he "offered a sacrifice of 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep."
*Untold millions were sacrificed in Old Testament times, and every time, God was saying that the sacrifice needed to be without blemish. He was pointing to Jesus every step of the way. So 1 Peter 1:18-19 says:
18. knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
19. but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
*Jesus was appointed by God the Father to be our sacrifice, and God turned the greatest harm into the greatest good. Paul shows us the good in Ephesians 5:25-27. There he talked about the relationship between husbands and wives. And Paul said:
25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,
26. that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27. that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
*Jesus Christ was without blemish. But on the cross He took all of our blemishes, so that we could be without blemish forever!
*Arthur Caliandro told the story of a life transformed by Jesus Christ. It was in Russia during Communist rule. Many Christians were forced into prison camps because of their faith. A Russian pastor Georgi Vins told of meeting a young woman named Galena. Galena had been arrested for teaching at a Vacation Bible School.
*The prison camp was filthy. Food was scarce. Medical care was nonexistent. And the women were forced into hard labor. Galena's hair and teeth fell out. Painful boils broke out all over her skin.
*When Galena's mother finally saw her, she was horrified at her daughter's condition, but Galena was positive. She told her mother that thousands of women in these prison camps had never heard of Jesus, and it was her responsibility to tell them about Him. (4)
*What a life of Christlike love! And Galena was able to live that way because "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
*Jesus stands alone! Only Jesus was appointed by the Father to be our sacrifice.
4. And only Jesus had the power to come back alive.
*We see this truth in vs. 24, where Peter said this about Jesus: "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."
*The New Living Translation says: "God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life again, for death could not keep him in its grip."
*I like that! Death could not keep Jesus in its grip! Death did not have the power to hold Jesus. Why? -- Because He was perfect. Jesus Christ never deserved to die. John Phillips explained: "It was impossible because He was sinless. 'The wages of sin is death,' says the Scripture. He did not sin, so obviously, He could not die. But die He did. He died because He was made sin for us, because He 'bare our sins in His own body on the tree' (1 Peter 2:24).
*Having thus paid the price for our sin, having suffered the extreme penalty and having discharged the debt, 'it was not possible that He should be held' by death. The resurrection was . . . God's receipt to the believer of a debt paid in full." (5)
*Pastor Bill Bouknight said that one of their Sunday School teachers was quizzing her kids last Easter about the resurrection story. One of the questions she asked was this: "Why did Jesus arise from the dead?" -- One bright little boy replied, "Because it wouldn't have been much of a story if he hadn't."
*And Bill said, "That little boy is absolutely right. Everything about our faith depends on the resurrection. Without the resurrection, Jesus would be nothing more than a dead hero. The history books are full of them. But the Good News of resurrection is that Jesus Christ has blazed a path for every believer into eternity, and even now this risen powerful Christ has been loosed upon this world. (6)
*Only Jesus had the power to come back alive! -- And His resurrection is the rock-solid foundation for our hope. Michael Green put it this way: "Without faith in the resurrection, there would be no Christianity at all. The Jesus Movement would have fizzled out like a damp firecracker, if Jesus had not conquered death." Martin Luther wrote: "The gospel does not explain the resurrection. The resurrection explains why we have the gospels." (7)
*Only Jesus had the power to come back alive! And His life gives living hope to all who will trust in the Lord. This week I saw a testimony of this living hope. It came from a Christian mother in England, who lost her son in World War II. His name was Bill. Here is a small part of that mother's testimony.
*First, from the months before her son was killed, she recalled this: "Sometimes . . . I wondered -- Would the rope hold if the worst happened? A bent old man brought me the telegram: 'Regrets to inform you that your son, Pilot Officer William St. Johns was killed in action.' Returning from a Berlin raid his plane was hit. In the hours that followed, it seemed to me I could not bear it."
*But God gave that mother the peace that passes understanding and she wrote: "In that quiet I knew beyond anything that can ever be, beyond anything I can express, beyond any doubt that could ever attack as long as I live, with a knowing deeper than breathing, and closer than the beating of my sore heart, I knew that my son lived. I knew he had gone through the valley of the shadow called death. . .
*Sorrow I have. Missing my son I have always. But of grief I was healed when the Comforter told me, "All is well with the child. . ." In the twenty-five years that have passed, moments of sorrow and longing come. . . (But) into our daily lives as a family has come the added glory that the rope held in our greatest sorrow." And that rope of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ will surely hold for us too.
*Bill's mother added one more thing: "On my desk is a small snapshot of Bill's navigator. It was taken in the cemetery where men of the Royal Air Force are buried. This friend had flown that last mission with Bill and parachuted in time. In the picture he is standing on a little bridge, smiling softly. On the back of the snapshot he wrote, 'Do you know why I am smiling? I've just been to the Skipper's grave -- and he isn't there.'" (8)
*This is the living hope we have in Jesus Christ! -- And only in Jesus Christ.
*Jesus stands alone!
-Only Jesus is able to save us.
-Only Jesus was approved by the Father.
-Only Jesus was appointed to be our sacrifice.
-And only Jesus had the power to come back alive.
*As we go to God in prayer, let's worship Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all!
(2) Beaumont Enterprise, 4286, p.1A - Source: "In Other Words" - April 2006 #4 - "IN OTHER WORDS" is produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry, Senior Pastor of the Westgate Memorial Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas. 6130 Barrington - Beaumont, Texas 77706 - www.iows.net
(3) In Other Words April 2006_2 - (Beaumont Enterprise, 12293, p. 2A)
(4) Dynamic Illustrations JFM 2002 - "The Higher Uses of Suffering" by Arthur Caliandro - Source "Plus: The Magazine of Positive Thinking, May 1994, pp. 35-36
(5) "Exploring Acts" - John Phillips - p. 50
(6) Sermon found on esermons.com - "All You Need to Know About Heaven" by Bill Bouknight - John 14 1 14
(7) Quotations from Michael Green and Martin Luther - Source: email from Sermons.com - 03252002
(8) Adapted from SermonCentral illustration: "THE ROPE HELD" by ADELA ROGERS ST. JOHNS