After “Are You Heaven Bound?”

Last Sunday was a particularly important Sunday for our congregation.  In addition to our weekly pattern of godly worship, which is always important, it also contained our long-awaited special service.  We’d been working toward “Are You Heaven Bound?” all year, and we’d been promoting it heavily for six weeks.  Now, the day has come and gone.

Before we put it completely in the rearview mirror, though, I want to spend some time talking about it.  I think there’s much to celebrate about what happened last Sunday, but I also think that there are several things we ought to learn from what happened.  Let’s consider, then, the lessons that are available for us after “Are You Heaven Bound?” Continue reading

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Victory in Jesus

For our final lesson before the big special service this afternoon, I wanted to zoom out as far as I could and ask “Why?”  Why have we been putting so much effort into promoting this?  Why is it important to get as many people as possible here at 3?  For that matter, why should we be here?  To zoom out even further, why should we ourselves be Christians at all?

One of my favorite answers to these questions appears in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57.  Serving Jesus is worth it, and calling others to serve Him is worth it because through Jesus, we can have victory.  Indeed, victory over the greatest challenges of life is only possible through Jesus, which means that if we don’t live for Him, defeat is the only possible result.  Being in Christ transforms our lives, and it can transform the life of every human being on the planet.  Let’s consider this morning, then, how we can achieve victory in Jesus. Continue reading

Overcoming Fear

As we observed last week, one of the most common reasons that Christians give for not engaging in personal evangelism is fear.  They’re afraid that they might not know what to say, that somebody might get mad at them, or that the whole effort might go horribly wrong in some other way.  I can certainly identify with this.  Back before I became a preacher and had to learn to run studies whether I wanted to or not, I myself was afraid of personal work.

However, simply because this fear is common doesn’t make it something we can live with.  As Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 1, God hasn’t given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-control.  Our brethren in the first century were bold, even to the point of risking and sometimes sacrificing their own lives.  If we want to be like the early disciples, we have to be bold too.  Fear isn’t a problem, but being paralyzed by our fears certainly is!  Let’s consider this morning, then, what we can do to overcome fear. Continue reading

Answering Common Challenges

As I first noted about a month ago now, Shawn and I are preaching concurrent sermon series on Sunday morning and Sunday evening, both pointing forward to our special service on April 15th.  In the morning, we continue to consider the subject of the resurrection, the foremost proof of our faith, and in the evening, topics pertaining to sharing our faith with the lost.

For many Christians, this is not their favorite spiritual activity!  In fact, they find it intimidating, and one of the things that intimidates them most about it is the possibility of somebody asking them something or saying something that they don’t know how to answer.  Some of these responses are novel, but many of them are extremely common.  This evening, then, I want to consider five of the most frequent, so that all of us will know how to answer these common challenges. Continue reading

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

During my last two sermons on the resurrection, I’ve basically been preaching in a phone booth.  In order to build a case that will stand up to scholarly skepticism, I’ve been limiting myself to the facts accepted by scholarly skeptics.  Now, though, that we’ve established the resurrection as a historical fact, there’s no longer any reason for skepticism.  We can turn to the recorded experience of the eyewitnesses.

The apostle John describes this experience in 1 John 1:1-2.  Even though he doesn’t say so explicitly, it’s clear here that he’s talking about the encounters of the early disciples with the risen Lord.  They saw Him, they examined Him, they touched His resurrected body, and they wrote down their experiences so we could know the truth.

This morning, then, let’s turn our attention to those records.  I’m going to do much more reading than normal and let the stories largely speak for themselves, but with each story, I will highlight a few things.  Let’s marvel together at the power of the story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Resurrection Objections

Last week, we turned our attention to a book called The Case for the Resurrection, by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona.  This book undertakes to establish the resurrection as a historical fact by using only evidence accepted by a scholarly consensus to prove its point.  In particular, Habermas and Licona rely on five “minimal facts” to build their argument.  These five facts are that (1) Jesus died on the cross, (2) the early disciples believed they had seen the risen Jesus, (3) James the Lord’s brother believed that he had seen the risen Jesus, (4) Paul believed he had seen the risen Jesus, and (5) the tomb was empty.  Though none of these facts are persuasive on their own, together they support the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead.

However, for centuries, scholars have been attempting to come up with a naturalistic, non-supernatural explanation for these facts.  I agree that if one of these explanations fits the facts as neatly as the resurrection does, we should accept it.  After all, we generally think that natural explanations are preferable to supernatural ones.  It’s important that we explore these alternatives in good faith, so this morning, let’s consider objections to the resurrection. Continue reading

Doors of Opportunity

In Colossians 4:3, Paul urges the church in Colossae to pray that God will open a door for the word so that Paul can proclaim the gospel to the lost.  Not surprisingly, for as long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve heard Christians similarly praying that God will open doors.  I think it’s wonderful practice to do exactly that.

However, I’m not at all sure that brethren are as comfortable with recognizing and going through doors as they are praying for them.  It’s one thing to be abstractly in favor of evangelism; it’s quite another to look at a friend or a neighbor and say, “That’s someone who might well be receptive to the gospel, so I’m going to talk to them about it!”  It doesn’t do a lot of good, though, to constantly be crying out to God for opportunities while neglecting the ones we have.  This evening, then, let’s consider the subject of doors of opportunity. Continue reading