Jesus’ Action Validate God’s Promises

“I can’t believe how people can go through life without God.” “Why aren’t more people coming to church?” “If it weren’t for God, I don’t know where I would be. What do people do if they don’t have God?” I hear comments like this. I often think thoughts like this. When people leave Christianity, it is often not because of what is central to the Christian faith. I never hear, “I can’t love a God that loves me so much he would die for me.” Or “I don’t want a God who promises his faithful love to me.” There is always some other reason. Like, “I can’t believe the hypocrisy in the church.” That’s true. We Christians don’t always practice our faith. But behaving isn’t the center of our faith. Or some say, “I’ve been hurt by people inside the church.” This is probably true, but that behavior would probably never be condoned by Jesus. Again, behaving isn’t the center of our faith. Still others say, “I’m not good enough for them.” Again, behaving isn’t the center of our faith but why is it that behavior is what has kept people away? Our center is Jesus. Specifically a Jesus who’s actions validated God’s promises. God promises and Jesus fulfills. That is the main point of the Bible and what we hear from God today. The lesson from Acts is has the first recorded sermon from Paul, a previous Christian-hater. Paul and Barnabas set off on a mission trip to preach Jesus risen from the dead. They stop in a town called Pisidian Antioch and visit a synagogue with a mix of Jews and gentile converts to Judaism in the group. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.” They wanted a message from these traveling teachers who came from Jerusalem, where the Temple was, the center of the Jewish faith. 16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: 26 “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. They had him put to death not because he did something wrong. It was not for justice. It was because he was too good. Jesus was a threat to them and their popularity. Little did they know, what they were doing they thought was undoing everything Jesus did but in reality, was accomplishing everything God predicted would happen. 29 “When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. 32 We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.” God is a man of his word. This is the third time so far that Paul mentions previous promises made by God. Jesus is the action behind every one of God’s words. He doesn’t stop at mere words. God is a God of action. Paul provides some of the references to the promises. As it is written in the second Psalm: “‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ 34 The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words: “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’ 35 So it is stated elsewhere: “‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’ 36 “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.” David is dead and decaying. This verse that David wrote can’t be about him. It must be about someone else. That someone is Jesus. So what? Here’s the main point in why Paul is saying all this. 38 “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” No more sacrifices. No more ceremonies. You are forgiven. This would be Paul’s main message for the rest of his life. You can’t do anything to save yourself. Jesus saves you by his life, death, and resurrection. You can’t work your way in, choose or pray your way in. God forgives you. It also must be proclaimed to you. The purpose of the whole OT Bible as we know it, it was their complete Bible then, was to point A) you can’t do this. You can’t complete it. You aren’t going to be good enough. Therefore, sacrifice was necessary. B) Everything would be fulfilled, validated, completed, and proved by Jesus’ action. This was hard for them to grasp that their previous way of doing things was over. Imagine if I said, “This Christmas, instead of celebrating Jesus’ birthday we are going to celebrate my Birthday.” None of you would come. This was the radical shift that Jesus was doing. When he came, he would abolish the old way of doing things. He said, “Celebrate me instead of following those systems. They all were a set up so that you would look to me. Now, here I am.” It is still hard for us to do, especially for those of us who have been here a while and have done things a certain way. Would it still be Easter with no flowers? No decorations? There are plenty of Christians in other countries who don’t have Easter lilies that still celebrate Easter. I am picking on the lilies because they are easy and neutral but here’s be big point. When we insist on doing things that God did not insist on, we are putting ourselves over God and we are turning away from the cross of Jesus. We can’t do it all perfectly anyways. What about those years when there aren’t as many flowers for Easter? “Too bad. Disappointing.” Too bad!? It’s Easter! He is Risen! Insert any other thing into that and it is still Easter. Things at church not going your way? It’s still Easter! You don’t think your that good of a Christian because you haven’t been behaving all that well? It’s still Easter! Why have people left the church? Perhaps we’ve forgotten why we do what we do and emphasized the wrong things. Paul wanted to share the better way. Paul drew the attention of the people to the risen and victorious Savior. This Savior follows through on what was spoken with actions. Paul pointed out that Jesus did everything God said he would do. The benefits of this are so grand. What if we didn’t have a church, hymnals, bibles, an organ, guitar, flowers, everything in church happening your way, etc.? Christ is still arisen. Jesus is still Savior. Forgiveness is proclaimed. Nothing else needed. I think of all the Christians who don’t have and yet are able to rejoice. Ukrainians who can’t worship regularly because of war. Russians who can’t speak the truths of Jesus because of government regulations. East Asian Christians with constant restrictions of freedom to meet and worship the Savior. Christians living in Muslim controlled countries who are hunted and killed for their faith. Yet they can rejoice for Easter because Jesus still rose. Why? Jesus validated all of God’s promises. Those promises can’t be touched by sinful hands. I met with one who was in a rehab center this past week. After a devotion about Easter, we talked about the beautiful Easter worship services. She received Mother’s Day flowers and said how she missed seeing the flowers at Easter. Then she said, “I can’t wait to get there.” For an instant, I thought to myself, “You haven’t been in church for years and probably won’t be going back.” But then quickly realized she wasn’t talking about church; she was thinking of heaven. She didn’t need all the other things. Jesus’ work for her was enough. What faith and anticipation in joy was in her heart because of the Easter message! I was inspired and floored by her expression of her confidence. It is enough for you too. Jesus’ work validated all of God’s promises. Amen

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