Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why?- Part 4

This week we wrapped up the 4-week series called "Why?" at WNW.  We opened with a worship set that included "Like A Lion/God's Not Dead" (Crowder/Newsboys), "God Is Able" (Hillsong), "Beautiful" (Phil Wickham).  After looking last week at why Jesus had to die for us, we finished the series by looking at why He had to rise from death.  First we discussed the proof that Scripture shows us that Jesus rose from death:
1) The Empty Tomb- Luke 24:1-3
-They knew that He had risen but they still lied about it in Matthew 28:11-15.  If Jesus was still dead they wouldn't have had to work so hard to lie about it because they would have been able to prove that He was still dead.  Also His body wouldn't have been easily stolen as it was guarded by Roman guards.
-The tomb is also still empty today!
2) The Linen Cloth- John 20:7
-If His body had been stolen, they wouldn't have taken the time to unwrap the linen cloth.
3) Post-Resurrection Appearances
-Mary Magdalene- Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18
-To women who had come to the tomb- Matthew 28:8-10
-To two travelers on the road to Emmaus- Mark 16:12-12; Luke 24:13-32
-Peter- Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5
-To 10 apostles- Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23
-To 11 apostles- John 20:26-29; 1 Corinthians 15:5
-To 7 disciples- John 21:1-23
-To 11 apostles- Matthew 28:16-20
-To over 500 people at the same time- 1 Corinthians 15:6
-To James His half-brother- 1 Corinthians 15:7
-To the disciples who were present at His ascension- Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:3-8
-To Stephen as he was stoned- Acts 7:55
-To Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus- 1 Corinthians 15:8 perhaps describing  Acts 9:1-8
-To Paul to warn him to get out of Jerusalem- Acts 22:17-19
-To Paul to encourage him while on trial- Acts 23:11
-To John- Revelation 1:9-3:22
4) The conversion of many Jews including priests- Acts 6:7
-The priests had originally despised Jesus and had paid Judas to betray Him- Matthew 26:14-16
5) The Transformed Disciples- Luke 24:45-47
-They were changed and went on to transform the world
6) Observance of the 1st day of the week
-Originally the Sabbath was not the 1st day of the week.  We see an example of the change in Acts 20:7.
-7) The Existence of the Church- The book of Acts

So after looking at the proof of the resurrection we look at the significance:
1) It's one of the main proofs of the deity of Jesus Christ- Romans 1:4
2) It validated Jesus as the true Messiah- Acts 2:36
3) It fulfilled prophecies concerning His resurrection- Acts 2:25-27 quoting Psalm 16:10
4) It validates Jesus' predictions of future events- John 5:22, 25; 14:2-3

If Jesus was still dead He would either be a liar or a lunatic based on His claims.  However, since He is alive we can rejoice in the fact that He is the One True God, Lord of All, and the only One worthy of our affection.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Disciple Now 2014

This past week was our Disciple Now Weekend.  The theme we used was "Imitator" and based on Ephesians 5:1-2.  It was an amazing weekend where we were greatly challenged in our relationship with Jesus.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why?- Part 3

This week at WNW we covered part 3 of the "Why?" series.  We opened with a worship set that included "Hosanna (Praise is Rising)" (Paul Baloche), "Because of Your Love" (Phil Wikcham), and "Sweetly Broken" (Jeremy Riddle).  During the set one of our students read Isaiah 53:1-6.  At the welcome time we showed a video highlighting last week's Disciple Now weekend, which I will post later.

After a brief into and review of the previous week I introduced the question for the night.  We know that during this Easter season we celebrate that Jesus died on the cross but we need to answer the question "Why did He have to die?"  The simple answer to the question is that He died to save us from our sins.  This answer then raises a question that must be answered first "Why do we need to be saved from our sins?"  The answer to this question is in two parts
1)  God is Holy - Leviticus 11:45; Habakkuk 1:13
-God is holy which means He is "set apart" from us.  There is no one or nothing like God that has ever or will ever exist.  He is perfect and pure
2)  We are sinful (not holy) - Romans 3:10-12, 23
-We must understand and always remember that our sin is in rebellious opposition to God and makes us enemies of God.  Our sin is a big deal!

So this brings a major dilemma- how can we, sinful and unholy humans be made right with a holy God?  The only way is through atonement.  Atonement is something done to make up for wrong deeds.  In the Old Testament, atonement was made through animal sacrifices (Leviticus 4:35).  However this had to be done continuously because it was only temporary and needed the ultimate sacrifice made for atonement on our behalf.  We can praise God that Jesus became this ultimate sacrifice for us!  So why did Jesus have to die?  To provide atonement for our unholiness so we could have a right relationship with God.  Jesus' atonement by dying on the cross involves the following four:
1)  Substitution
-Jesus died as a substitute for us who have actually committed sins.  He never sin, yet died in our place.  We deserved death but He took on death in our place.
2) Redemption
-To redeem something is to pay for something.  We use coupons and vouchers to redeems items.  Jesus' death on the cross redeemed us by paying for our sins.  We are supposed to die for payment of our sins, yet Jesus made this payment on our behalf.
3) Propitiation
-Propitiation means to ease or satisfy.  Our holy God has righteous demands for sinful people to be able to be in a relationship with Him.  We are to be made holy and pure.  Jesus' death on the cross satisfied God's righteous demands, resulting in His being able to forgive our sins.
4) Reconciliation
-To reconcile differences between two people means that their relationship has been made right.  Jesus' death on the cross brings us into a right relationship with God.

So how do we know that Jesus' atonement on the cross is perfect and complete for us.  He said so Himself in John 19:30 when He cried out "It is finished!"  He said "It" and not "I" am finished.  The Greek word "tetelestai or "teleo" here means a completed or perfect work.  This word was stamped on receipts when a debt was paid in full.  This meant that there is nothing else owed and that the debt has been completely paid.  When Jesus cried out "It is finished" He was saying that the atonement was completely paid and that nothing else could be done to earn it.  We closed by watching the video "It is Finished" by Matt Papa.  I challenged the students to let the words "It is finished" to speak to them in a fresh way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why?- Part 2

Last week at WNW we continued the series "Why?" looking at the life of Jesus.  We began the night by playing a game of "Who Wants To Win A Cadbury Egg?"  Then we went into a worship set that included "Forever Reign" (Kristian Stanfill), "Scandal of Grace" (Hillsong United), and "Lord Our God" (Kristian Stanfill).  

After a brief review of the previous week I explained how once again understanding the deity and humanity of Jesus is complex.  However, though it is complex we are not excused from looking to Scripture to understand as much as possible.  I showed a funny video where 2 cartoon figures are asking St. Patrick to explain the Trinity in basic terms since they are uneducated.  After several failed attempts that were each refuted by the 2 men, St. Patrick explains in deep theological terms and explains that our understanding is faith based.  They then reply "well why didn't you just say that to begin with."  

This week we looked at "Why did Jesus have to be fully human?"  I had the students share examples of Jesus' humanity and we looked up supporting verses.  We came up with the following:
-Jesus referred to Himself as a man- John 8:40
-Jesus had a human mother- Matthew 1:18
-Jesus had the appearance of a man- John 4:9; John 20:15
-Jesus displayed human emotions- John 11:35
-Jesus had physical limitations:  fatigue John 4:6; He needed sleep Mark 4:38; He became hungry Matthew 21:18; He became thirsty John 4:7
-He died- Luke 23:46

So now that we looked at verses that points to Jesus' humanity, we must answer the question "Why did He have to be fully human?
1) To reveal God to us in a way that we could understand- John 1:14
2) To provide an example of how we are to live- Ephesians 5:1-2
3) To provide us an example of victory over temptation- Hebrews 2:18
4) He had to be a real man in order to die, because God cannot die

So our response to this is worship because He lived on earth just as us.  He was tempted yet He was without sin.  He endured pain just as we do.  He died a terrible death to that we could be set free.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why?- Part 1

We began a new WNW series for the month of April this week called "Why?"  We opened with a worship set that included "Happy Day" (Tim Hughes), "Scandal of Grace" (Hillsong United), and "Beautiful Picture" (The Rose Factor).  

The question "why?" is the most often asked question daily.  Sometimes we get an answer that we like but most often we do not.  Then sometimes there are no answers to the "why?" questions in life.  I googled just the word "why" and let autocorrect show what I assume have been the most common "why" questions asked recently.  The results were:  why is the sky blue?, why was flappy bird deleted?, why not lease it?, and why do we yawn?  As we are in the Easter season there are questions of "Why?" that we need to answer about Jesus.  We know that Jesus' crucifixion is foolish to those to are not believers and is the life-saving truth that Christians depend on (1 Corinthians 1:18).  Most Christians can explain this, but can we explain more in depth-details such as why Jesus had to embody full deity and full humanity in order to qualify for proper atonement for our sins.  In other words, why must Jesus have been fully God and fully human in order to qualify to sacrificially die on the cross to make up for our sins?  While we cannot fully understand who Jesus is, it does not excuse us from seeking Him out in the Scriptures to understand Him as much as we possibly can.  When we do begin to see the truth of who Jesus is in the Bible, then our result is worship.

So this first week we looked at the question "Why did Jesus have to be fully God?"  Jesus is the only person or thing every to be two completely different things at the same time.  He was fully God and at the same time fully human.  He was not part each.  So how do we know that He is fully God?  Well we know that Jesus claimed deity.  We read one example of this in John 5:17-18.  CS Lewis said that Jesus' claims to be God made Him one of the three- either liar, lunatic, or Lord.  As we are about to see that He is God, we can trust that everything Jesus said is true.

Here are three ways that we looked to Scripture to see that Jesus is God
1)  Divine titles used to describe Jesus as God.
In Luke 2:11 the angel announces that Jesus is Lord.  Jesus is referred to as "the Lord Jesus Christ" in over 80 New Testament passages including Romans 5:1.
2)  Jesus has the same attributes of God. 
An attribute is a characteristic.  I read off the following list that Scripture points to as attributes of both God the Father and Jesus:  eternal, faithful, good, gracious, great, holy, immutable (unchanging), incomprehensible, life, light, love, merciful, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, righteous and just, self-existen, self-sufficient, sovereign, spirit, true, wise.  We specifically looked at the reference for Him being eternal in Psalm 90:2 and John 1:1-2.
3)  Jesus does things that only God can do
This list includes He created all things (John 1:1-3), He sustains all things He created, He raises the dead, He saves, He forgives sin, He performs miracles, and He judges.

There is one more thing about Jesus that proves that He is completely God and it is that He is sinless.  We read in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that He is sinless but took on the sin of the world in order to save us.

So now that we see that Jesus is fully God, then we must answer the question why did He have to be?  He had to be God (and sinless) in order for His death to provide salvation because one sinful man dying for another would not meet God's righteous requirements.  If He had only been a man, then He would have just been a good man who died.  Since He is fully God and fully man, He is able to be a mediator between God and man.

So what should our response be?  Our response should be worship as we realize that Jesus gave up Heaven for earth to save us.  Only He can save us and not ourselves.  When we start to see this for all that it really is, our response should be to love Him and worship Him more.