Four Spiritual Principles for Ministry and Missions (Acts 13-14)

Scripture reading – Acts 13-14

While the inception of the Great Commission was found in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8, the birth of missions is recorded in Acts 13-14. I invite you to consider some simple, but central principles for missions found in Acts 13. 

The first, God calls to missions those who are serving (Acts 13:1).  Barnabas and Saul (i.e. Paul, Acts 13:9) were named among the “prophets and teachers” who were at Antioch (13:1). When God called that dynamic duo of preachers to be ordained and sent out by the church in Antioch, they were numbered among those who “ministered to the LORD” (13:2).

A second principle of missions is that Gods call is specific (13:2).  We read, “the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (13:2). There were many serving in the church at Antioch; however, the Holy Spirit explicitly called Barnabas and Saul to a specific ministry: “for the work whereunto I have called them” (13:2b).

The third principle of missions is separation (13:2-3).  A call to missions will often mean a parting, a separation, from home, family, friends, aspirations, and comforts. Barnabas and Saul’s departure would be defined by seas, distant lands, hardships, persecutions, and adversaries.

A fourth principle of missions is that the leaders of the church sanctioned and confirmed Gods call on Barnabas and Saul.  We read, “when they [the church and its leaders] had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (13:3).

Called by the Holy Ghost, set apart for service, and ordained by the elders of the church in Antioch, Barnabas and Saul, accompanied by John Mark (13:5), set sail for the island of Cyprus (13:4-6). They traveled the island, preaching the “the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews” (13:5). There is a subtle change in the leadership of the missions team that began as “Barnabas and Saul” (13:2), and came to be identified as “Paul and his company” (13:13). Soon after the change in leadership, John Mark left the team, and returned to his home in Jerusalem where his mother resided (13:13; note Acts 12:25). We are not told why John Mark departed, but it will later be revealed that his departure would become a catalyst for Paul and Barnabas to divide their team and go their separate ways (15:36-41).

Unlike Paul and Barnabas who were faithfully serving in the church in Antioch when God called them, I fear many 21st century believers are content to be spiritual spectators. The questions Paul expressed in Romans 10 should haunt us all.

Romans 10:14-15a – “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Are There Hypocrites in the Church? Oh yeah! (Acts 11-12)

Scripture reading – Acts 11-12

“There are hypocrites in the church!” Sadly true, and often the excuse some sinners give for rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, “hypocrites in the church” is also the pretext for carnal saints to excuse their unfaithfulness (Hebrews 10:25).  Rather than defend the contention that there are hypocrites in the midst, let us acknowledge that such has been the case from the beginning of the New Testament assemblies!

Those who follow Christ are not exempt from disputes and contentions, as we will see in today’s Scripture reading. I marvel, not at the imperfections found within the ranks of the church, but that a membership so fallible might continue and not degrade into oblivion!

Acts 11-12 offer us four portraits of life of some believers in the early church: Contentious (Acts 11:1-18), diversified (Acts 11:19-26), charitable (Acts 11:27-30), and persecuted (Acts 12:1-19). Today’s devotional will focus on the first portrait:

Contentiousness (Acts 11:1-18)

We read, “when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended [argued; opposed; judged; disputed] with him” (Acts 11:2). It is a striking scene to find brethren in Jerusalem who opposed the apostle Peter! Peter had been an early disciple of Christ, a member of the Twelve, and was named in Jesus Christ’s most intimate circle (along with the brothers, James and John). The thought of church members challenging Peter is perplexing, but a reminder that none of us are exempt from criticisms or personal attacks.

Having heard how Peter had preached the Gospel to Gentiles, who “had also received [accepted; welcomed] the Word of God” (11:1-2), there were some Jewish believers (“of the circumcision”), who were ready to fault him for eating with “uncircumcised” men (11:3).

Consider Peter’s response to the unjust inquisition, and his humility (Acts 11:4-17). 

Peter might have taken offense that he, a disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, should suffer such an interrogation, however, such was not the case. Demonstrating the humility of Christ, Peter lovingly rehearsed how the LORD had, in a vision, sovereignly instructed and providentially directed him to declare the Gospel to the uncircumcised sinners of Joppa (11:4-17).

Contemplate the dynamic between Peter and the members of the early church: While some came, not to enquire, but to argue; Peter responded with humility and truth explaining,

Acts 11:15–17 – “15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

Disarmed by truth and his explanation, Peter’s inquirers “held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (11:18).

I commend those early saints, not for their contentious spirit, but for their humility and acceptance of Peter’s explanation. Though he was a formidable figure, and a leader among the apostles, Peter’s response to those who were contentious is a lesson in “servant leadership.”

What about you? What manner of believer are you? Contentious believers can become a curse to the church, and a discouragement to those who labor in ministry.

Are there hypocrites in the church?

 Absolutely; however, be sure you are not one of them!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Persecutor and the Preacher (Acts 9-10)

Scripture reading – Acts 9-10

Our previous devotional concluded with Acts 8 where we read, “1And Saul [He will become known as Paul after his conversion] was consenting unto his [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem…3As for Saul, he made havock [shamefully treating believers] of the church, entering into every house, and haling [dragging] men and women committed them to prison” (Acts 8:1a, 3).

The religious leaders of Judaism looked upon Saul as a rising star in their ranks (Philippians 3:4-6; Galatians 1:13-14), and believers considered him a formidable, tireless foe. Saul’s zeal against those accepting Jesus as the Messiah is described in the opening verses of Acts 9.

Acts 9:1–2 – And Saul, yet breathing [blowing; expelling] out threatenings [reproaches] and slaughter [murder] against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters [permission; authority] to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way [The WAY; believers in the Gospel of Christ], whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound [with ropes and chains] unto Jerusalem.

Saul’s passion opposing believers of “The WAY” (9:2), and his thirst for the blood of martyrs was unrequited. Under the deluded pretense that he was serving God, he requested and received letters of authority from the high priests, and set out on a journey for Damascus. Driven by a religious zeal that was contrary to the Law and Commandments (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:16), Saul intended to drag followers of Christ out of the synagogues of Damascus, and take them in chains to Jerusalem, a journey of 175 miles.

As he neared Damascus, there was “a light from heaven” (9:3), a light that may have been the shekinah glory of the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Luke 2:9; John 1:14). Blinded by the light (9:8), Saul fell to the earth “and heard a voice” (9:4a).

Notice that the LORD confronted Saul’s sin asking, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (9:4) With humility, Saul answered, Who art thou, Lord? Then Jesus revealed Himself to Saul by name, identifying his persecution of believers as an offense against Himself.

“The Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (9:5b). Like an ox that is goaded with a long stick to prod it to obey its master, Saul had foolishly been goading God. “Trembling and astonished [amazed]” (9:6), he realized he had been persecuting the Son of God.

Blind and shaken, Saul surrendered his will to God, and acknowledged Jesus Christ as his Lord. His pretense of spiritual piety revealed for its hypocrisy, he asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (9:6a).

Saul was led to Damascus by the men that had traveled with him on his initiative to persecute followers of Christ. Rendered “speechless,” those men had heard a voice, but “seeing no man,” were unchanged by the experience that had transformed Saul’s heart and life (9:7).

Arriving in Damascus, with the Lord’s promise he would be told what he must do (9:6c), the great persecutor of believers found himself blind, and with no appetite for food or drink (9:9).

While Saul waited, the Lord moved on the heart of Ananias (9:10), a godly man whom He had chosen to restore Saul’s sight. Knowing the path of death and destruction that had been perpetuated by Saul, Ananias resisted. However, he was assured by the Lord, “behold he prayeth” (9:11), “he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (9:15).

Obeying the Lord’s command, Ananias came to Saul, and “putting his hands on him” (9:17), he received his sight (9:18).

I close today’s devotional, marveling at the transformation in Saul’s life. From the great persecutor of the followers of Christ, to a faithful apostle; what a testimony of saving, transforming grace! No wonder Paul would later write, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Preaching to the Camera

Hillsdale Baptist Church remains committed to providing quality live streaming as an ALTERNATIVE for:

1) Those who are sick, disabled, elderly, or need to shelter in place

2) Church members who are on vacation or out of town

3) Those who are seeking a Bible preaching Church that is faithful to the Scriptures, and are looking for a Church that is traditional in its worship and music

4) Believers who live in remote, rural regions of the country or world, and do not have a Bible preaching Church in their area

Internet broadcast also invite the world to come to Hillsdale, and hear the unapologetic preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

New Testament worship is not a spectator event, it is a service where the members of a local body of believers congregate for the purpose of worship, fellowship, and encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:25). The Church is “one body with many members,” each member of the body has their place and function within that body (Romans 12:4-5).

When members of the Church are absent, they not only hinder the function of the body as a whole; they will eventually become a starving appendage of the Church, and inevitably evidence atrophy.

Friend, you might Zoom corporate meetings, FaceTime your friends, and join conference call seminars; however, the Church is a unique body that represents the light of God’s presence in the world and to function Biblically its members must be present.

I close with an exhortation: BE IN CHURCH!

Hebrews 10:24–25 – And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Be Strong in the LORD and Bold in Your Witness! (Acts 7-8)

Scripture reading – Acts 7-8

Recorded in Acts 7-8 are two of the great pivotal points in the maturing of the early church: The death of Stephen, the first martyr of the church (Acts 7); and the conversion of Saul the great persecutor of the church (Acts 8).

We first met Stephen in Acts 6 when he was named among the seven men chosen to assist the apostles in the rapidly growing body of believers.  Though there is some debate, I believe the seven were the first Deacons, one of only two Biblical offices in the New Testament church, the other being the Pastor\Elder.

The role of the seven was defined as serving tables (Acts 6:2), meaning the menial, but intimate care of the members of their assembly. Particularly noteworthy was the spiritual character that was demanded of those who would be Deacons. Those men were to be “men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” (Acts 6:3).

Of the seven men chosen, Stephen, is specifically distinguished as a man, “full of faith and power, [who] did great wonders and miracles among the people” (6:8).   Stephen’s testimony and his boldness in faith, spiritual wisdom, and power in the spirit made him a formidable witness among those in the unorthodox synagogues (6:9-10).

As it was with Christ, so it was for Stephen; the enemies of the Gospel were determined to silence him.  After arresting Stephen, evil men were employed to bring false accusations against him (6:11-13). Hurling lies against his character, Stephen amazed those who sat in the council against him, for his countenance was “as it had been the face of an angel” (6:15).

Having heard the charges of his accusers, Stephen was asked by the high priest, “Are these things so?” (7:1).

Stephen’s defense reflected a breadth and depth of knowledge in the Old Testament Scriptures, and made his argument before the Sanhedrin powerful and convicting (7:2-53). Stephen systematically set forth a historical case for Christ beginning with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and Solomon (7:2-50).   Concluding his defense, he fearlessly rebuked the Sanhedrin, exposing their hypocrisy, and charging them and their fathers with the deaths of the prophets (7:51-53).

Rather than answer Stephen’s indictment, the lawless members of the Sanhedrin broke their laws, and without an answer or passing judgment, they stoned him to death (7:54-58).

The religious hypocrites were guilty. They were guilty of the blood of the prophets, and having already rejected Jesus Christ, they added to their condemnation the blood of Stephen.

There was, however, one exception in that crowd of mockers: “the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul” (7:58). Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor of the church, would soon come face to face with the reality of a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9).

I trust Stephen’s knowledge of the Scriptures, and his courageous example will stir your heart to study the Old and New Testament Scriptures, and embolden your faith to be a faithful witness for Jesus Christ.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Secret to God’s Power (Acts 4-6)

Scripture reading – Acts 4-6

One would not presume the miraculous healing of a lame man, a man unable to walk from his birth, would be the catalyst for rousing opposition to the Gospel (Acts 3:2; 4:22). However, such was the case when members of the Sanhedrin, among them the high priests, Pharisees, and scribes (4:1-6), realized the death of Jesus Christ was not the end, but only the beginning of a movement that would turn “the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

Peter, preaching with boldness the Gospel of Christ, had accused the people of Israel saying, “14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14-15)

Calling on the people to repent, and “be converted, that [their] sins may be blotted out” (3:19), Peter’s preaching was suddenly interrupted. “The priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them [Peter and John, Acts 3:1],Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold [prison] unto the next day.” (4:1-3, 13).

In spite of the abuse, and opposition to the Gospel, “many of them which heard the word [the Gospel of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection] believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand” (4:4). The next day, Peter and John (note Acts 3:1; 4:13) were brought before the Sanhedrin to be tried by the same men who not long before had presided over Christ’s trial, and finally demanded His crucifixion (4:5-7).

The Interrogation (Acts 4:7-16)

The members of the Sanhedrin repeatedly demanded, “By what power [authority], or by what name [person], have ye done this [i.e. healing the lame man and preaching]?” (4:7) Peter’s response to their examination is instructive and noteworthy for believers facing adversaries (4:8-12).

Peter was “filled with the Holy Ghost” when he responded to his enemies (4:8). He did not respond to his inquisitors in the flesh, but was yielded to the Spirit, and empowered to speak as God would have him to respond.

Peter’s response was respectful, and not spiteful. He acknowledged the office and position the leaders held with the people, and addressed them as, “rulers of the people, and elders of Israel” (4:8b).

Peter’s faith evoked boldness and courage (4:9-11). He did not shy from identifying Jesus Christ as the source of their power to heal the lame man, and leveled against his enemies the weight of their guilt in crucifying “Jesus Christ of Nazareth… whom God raised from the dead” (4:10).

Leaving no doubt that in Christ alone is forgiveness of sin, Peter declared, “12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (4:12).

The religious leaders were amazed at “the boldness of Peter and John,” and marveled that “unlearned and ignorant men” who lacked rabbinical schooling (4:13), would have insight and discernment into the Scriptures. The Sanhedrin knew Peter and John were Galilean fisherman, but what could explain their wisdom? The leaders, “took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (4:13).

The Intent of the Adversaries (Acts 4:16-18)

Unable to deny the healing of the man who had been lame since his birth (4:16), but rushing to find a solution to the spread of the Gospel (4:17), the religious leaders threatened Peter and John, and “commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (4:18).

The Instruction of a Righteous Response to Enemies of the Gospel (4:19-21)

Unwilling to be silenced by threats and intimidation, Peter and John answered their interrogators saying, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (4:19-20).

God is the Judge of right and wrong, and His authority exceeds all human authority. Jesus Christ had commissioned, and empowered them to preach (1:8), and they would not, and could not be silent.

Rather than silencing the apostles, Peter and John’s faith propelled believers to glorify “God for that which was done” (4:21). When Peter and John reported what had been said to them by “the chief priests and elders,” the people “lifted up their voice to God with one accord” (4:23-24) and prayed, acknowledging God as Creator and Sovereign. They trusted God, and prayed, “do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (4:28).

Acknowledging the threats of their enemies, they prayed for God to give them boldness to speak (4:29). As they prayed, the foundations of the place were shaken, and the Holy Ghost filled the people and “they spake the word of God with boldness” (4:31).

I close inviting you to notice that God’s power was present when there was unity among believers, for the people “were of one heart and of one soul” (4:32).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Your invitation to join Hillsdale Baptist Church for our Sunday Morning Services

You are invited to join Hillsdale Baptist Church for our worship services this Sunday morning.

Associate Pastor Brian Barber will be teaching his Adult Bible Fellowship class in the auditorium at 9:15 AM, and broadcasting live on Hillsdale’s Facebook Page and at http://www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.

In the 10:30 AM worship service, Pastor Smith is continuing his series in the Gospel of Luke, and looking this morning at the concluding verses of Luke 10 and a message titled, “A Question of Priorities: Making Time for the Best Things” (Luke 10:38-42). Student notes are available. Take Time for the Best Things – November 15, 2020 student blank

Pastor Smith’s devotional commentary will be posted this afternoon.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith, Senior Pastor

http://www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Are you ready for Christ’s coming? It may be today! (Acts 1-3)

Scripture reading – Acts 1-3

Today’s Scripture reading brings our chronological study of the Bible to the “Acts of the Apostles.” Luke, whom Paul referred to as a physician (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24), is credited as the author of the Gospel that bears his name and the Book of Acts, where he introduced himself, not by name, but as the writer of a “former treatise” to a believer named Theophilus (Luke 1:1-3; Acts 1:1).

The Gospel of Luke gives us a historical record of Christ’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. The Acts of the Apostles records the actions and activities of the Apostles, beginning with Christ commissioning His disciples to preach the Gospel: “be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8), and concluding with Paul’s powerful prison witness in Rome, the capital city of the world in the first century (Acts 28:16, 30-31).

There are several foundational truths we should notice in this introduction to the Book of Acts.

Because the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central hope of believers (Luke 24:39-40; 41-43; Acts 1:3), Jesus remained with His disciples forty days and emboldened them with “many infallible proofs,” an experience that imparted to them boldness and forever transformed their lives (Acts 1:3).

Assembling the disciples for His departure (1:4), Jesus exhorted them to wait for the promise of the Father…ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost” (1:4-5). After promising them “power” and authority, He commissioned them to be witnesses (1:8), and as they watched, He “was taken up; , and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (1:9). Two angels, appearing as men in “white apparel,” appeared and gave the disciples a promise that has been the hope of believers for 2,000 years: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (1:11).

The promise of the imminent return of Jesus Christ forever changed the disciples’ perspective on their lives and ministry. Often guilty of self-promotion and wondering which of them would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom (Luke 9:46, 22:24), their focus became preaching the Gospel and calling sinners to repent of their sins and turn to Christ (2:22-24, 32, 36-38).

Knowing Jesus Christ promised to return, but not knowing the hour, James exhorted believers:

James 5:7-9 – Be patient [longsuffering; slow to anger] therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman [farmer] waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early [autumn] and latter [spring] rain. 8Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts [keep hope alive]: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9Grudge not [stop complaining & grumbling] one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

I do not know when the LORD will return (Acts 1:7), but I believe it is imminent, and will be sudden, and unexpected (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).

Are you ready for His coming?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

You want Proof? I’ve Got Proof! (Luke 24, John 20-21)

Scripture reading – Luke 24, John 20-21

A shepherd’s memo and invitation to those who follow the 2020 edition of www.HeartofAShepherd.comToday’s Scripture reading is the 319th Bible reading of the year and is a milestone as we conclude our chronological study of the Gospels.

This year, 2020, brought not only a pandemic, but also unprecedented attacks on liberties I fear we too often take for granted. We have experienced an erosion of freedoms, as social mediums and news organizations joined forces to silence blogs and posts that are contrary to their social agenda and narrative. My Heart of a Shepherd’s Facebook Page was disabled without notice, and without any means of appeal. 

If you have not done so, I urge you to subscribe to www.HeartofAShepherd.com, and insure you will continue to receive these daily Bible devotionals.

The proofs of Christ’s resurrection, the Great Commission, and the command to preach the Gospel are the concluding themes in our study of the Gospels.

Luke and John record undeniable proofs of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. Mary Magdalene (John 20:1), and several other women, including Joanna, and Mary the mother of James (Luke 24:1, 10) had arrived at the tomb “the first day of the week, very early in the morning (Luke 24:1) and found “the stone rolled away from the sepulchre” (Luke 24:2).

Although Jesus had on several occasions prophesied His death, burial, and resurrection, Mary Magdalene had leapt to the conclusion that the Lord’s body had been removed by His enemies (John 20:1-2). Without waiting on the other women, Mary bolted from the tomb, taking news to Peter and John saying, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (20:2).

The other women had entered the tomb, and were frightened by the appearance of “two men,” two angels who “stood by them in shining garments” (Luke 24:4) and asked, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (24:5)

Without waiting for the women to answer, the angels reminded them how Jesus had foretold His death, burial and resurrection, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:7).

Those women, remembered “His words,” and with joy left the tomb and ran to tell the disciples the news that Jesus was risen. The disciples, however, “believed them not” (Luke 24:11). That “same day at evening,” being “the first day of the week” (John 20:19), Jesus appeared to His disciples and said to them, “Peace be unto you” (20:19).

Proving His bodily resurrection from the dead, Jesus showed the disciples the physical scars of His crucifixion, in both “His hands and His side” (John 20:20). Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not there when Jesus revealed himself, and expressed his unbelief saying, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (20:25).

Eight days later, Jesus appeared a second time to His disciples (John 20:26), and said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (20:27). Thomas, laying aside his unbelief, confessed his faith in Christ saying, “My Lord and my God” (20:28).

Jesus was more than a prophet, or a great teacher. No mortal man could die and be raised from the dead apart from God. The days that followed Christ’s bodily resurrection, and the signs and miracles He performed (20:30), enflamed the hearts of His followers to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection with boldness and power.

John writes, “31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (20:31).

What do you believe? Do you believe the revelations of the written Word of God? Do you believe Jesus Christ was crucified for your sins, and on the third day was raised victorious from the dead? John wrote later in life his unwavering confidence in Christ:

1 John 5:11–1311 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hope Renewed: “He Is Risen!” (Matthew 28; Mark 16)

Scripture reading – Matthew 28; Mark 16

Now Jesus had cried from the Cross with His dying breath, “It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30). Removing any doubt that the Roman cross had not fulfilled its purpose, a soldier thrust his spear through our LORD’s side (John 19:34-37), and fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy, “they shall look upon me whom they pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).

Departing Golgotha

The chief priests, Pharisees, and scribes might have been the first to depart Golgotha. They had plotted Jesus’ death, and after provoking the people to consent to His being crucified, went home bearing the guilt of innocent blood to begin the final preparations of the Passover Feast.

The last to leave the Cross were those closest to Jesus, including His mother Mary whom John led away to his own home (John 19:26-27), and the other women who had stood at the foot of the cross (Mark 15:40). These followed Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who were members of the Sanhedrin (John 19:38-39), and placed the body of Jesus in Joseph’s own tomb (John 19:39).

The tomb was sealed and guards posted, to ensure that none of Jesus’ followers would steal His body, and then claim He had been raised from the dead as He had often taught (Matthew 27:62-66).

The Single Greatest Event in Human History: Christ’s Resurrection from the Dead (Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:1-6)

A great earthquake occurred at the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week” (28:1). The “angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came [came near] and rolled back [rolled away] the stone from the door [of the tomb], and sat [sat down] upon it” (28:2).

Arriving soon after the tomb was opened, the women who had come to anoint Jesus’ body were shaken by the terrifying sight of the angel, and disheartened when they found the tomb was open and the body of Jesus was missing (28:3-4). Two angels appeared (Luke 24:4-5), and one said to the women, “Fear not ye [Don’t be frightened]: for I know [understand] that ye seek [enquiring after] Jesus, which was crucified” (28:5). The next words spoken by the angel were the greatest news ever men or women would hear:

Matthew 28:6 He is not here [not in this place]: for he is risen [raised up], as he said. Come [come here], see [look and know] the place where the Lord lay.

Christ’s resurrection was the pinnacle moment in God’s plan of redemption. Jesus Christ had been crucified, buried, and was raised from the dead on the third day. The penalty of sin had been paid in full (Romans 6:23), and His resurrection promised hope to all who would believe.

Writing to believers in the city of Corinth, many of whom were concerned with the deaths of their loved ones, and wondered what would become of their souls, Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 15:12-1412  Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith isalso vain.

1 Corinthians 15:19–2219 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The apostle John would write at the close of his first epistle:

1 John 5:1313 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Is Jesus Christ your Savior?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith