Friday, October 7, 2011

Acts 1 – We Are HIS Witnesses

Hello Project Ezra!  This weekend the suggested reading is Acts chapter 1.  This is one of the more straightforward message themes.  It is the heart of the gospel, the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the disciples being called to be His witnesses, just as we have been.  This is also another opportunity to present the message of the Bible as history.  Many places in the New Testament, including here, Christ’s followers presented themselves not just as true believers, but eyewitnesses to historical events.  They did not merely believe it a system of thought that they thought was valuable, noteworthy, or life changing (although, of course, it is all of those).  They believed in, as 1 John puts it, those things which “we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands.”  And those same concrete, absolute truths should be as real for us today as they were for the Apostles then.

The Apostles were also called to go into the world and share that message, and so are we.  While many people will say that faith is a very personal thing, something that is between them and God, the opposite should be true.  We are not called to have a personal, private relationship with God.  We are called, and indeed commanded, to have a very public, vocal relationship with God.  If the Bible is true, if the gospel is real, the most important, and the most loving, thing we can do is to tell others about the truth of what Jesus Christ has done for us.  Not everyone is called to be a pastor or a full time evangelist, but every believer is called to share their faith.  And although God does not need us to spread the gospel (He could do it all Himself, directly, as He did with Paul), believing men and women are the primary method, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that He has chosen to use to spread His gospel.  If we might have the privilege of seeing someone repent and trust in Christ through our witness, that would be an incredible privilege.  Why would anyone not want to be involved in that?

So go out and be His witnesses today.  I pray this outline will be an encouragement and a help as you share His gospel of grace.



In Acts chapter 1, Jesus tells His disciples they will be His witnesses, both in their local area, and to the ends of the earth

They were witnesses of His earthly existence, and  now they were to go out and proclaim both that earthly existence, and their future heavenly existence.

Just as Christ’s Apostles were called to be His witnesses in that day, all Christians have been called to be His witnesses this day.

We are here today as His witnesses, to share with you the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ’s death for our transgressions, and His resurrection for our salvation.

But we are not here just to share our religious thoughts and opinions.  We are here to share a truth that is a matter of life and death, a truth based on fact, and not just an opinion.

The Christian faith is not based on mythology, and it is not based on wishful thinking.  The truth of Christianity is based in history.

The men Christ chose to follow His were more than His students.  They shared His life.  They did not only hear His claims, they saw the truth of those claims acted out.

The Disciples walked with Him and lived with Him for years.  They heard Him teach and watched Him perform miracles.

They saw Jesus arrested, condemned, and killed

Then they saw Him after His resurrection, and watched Him ascend into heaven.

When they chose someone to replace Judus, they made sure to pick someone who had also witnesses those things, from the beginning of Christ’s ministry

They followed Christ because they heard His claims, and knew them to be true.

But more than that, they understood what He had done, what Jesus Christ had paid, for their sake.  They knew what that death, resurrection and ascension meant.  Do you?

Jesus died on the cross for pay the penalty for sin.  That price had to be paid because of our guilt before God.  Do you understand your guilt before God?

God is holy.   He is perfect, pure and set apart from us.  And because of His holiness, because of His purity, He can not and will not allow evil to exist in His presence. 

God is a God of love and forgiveness, but that is not the entirety of His character.  He is also a God of justice, and because of that justice He will make sure that every sin, every moral crime, will be punished completely.

Every one of us has committed moral crimes, which the Bible calls sins, against God.

Look at yourself in the mirror of God’s Ten Commandments, and see yourself in the light of God’s standard.  That is the purpose of God’s law, to lead us to Christ so that we may be justified.

Has the truth of God been the center of your existence, the foundation of who you are and how you live your life?  If not then you have sinned against Him

Have you worshipped God as He has presented Himself in truth, or have you created an image in your mind of a God who accepts your sinful behavior?  Or have you worshipped an idol, a false God different from the God of the Bible?

Have you used God’s name improperly?  Have you used His name lightly or disrespectfully, or even in place of a curse word, to express disgust?  God take the use of His name very seriously, and will not hold guiltless those who misuse, and blaspheme, His name

Every one of us has broken many more of His laws more times than we can count, whether through theft, lying, greed, adultery, or envy.  And every one of us is worthy of His justice

God tells us that unless we repent, we will perish.  If we die in our guilt, we will be sent to a place called hell, a place of eternal torment, of fire and pain that never ceases.

Hell is not a separation from God.  It is a separation from all His goodness, all His mercy, and all His love, and living forever under His justice and wrath.  And that is exactly what you, and I, deserve for our sins.

But the truth of God’s love is just as real as the truth of our His wrath and the truth of His justice

God’s love was demonstrated most clearly on the cross of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, the creator of all that exists, humbled Himself, came to earth, lived a perfect life, and then willingly shed His blood on a Roman cross so that our sins could be paid for

On the cross all God’s anger, wrath, and hatred of sin was poured out on Jesus Christ, His own Son, so it wouldn’t have to be poured out on us.

1 Peter 1 tells us that we were ransomed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and Romans 5 says we are reconciled to God through the death of His Son.

If we were to be left on our own we would have no possibility of anything but the righteous judgment of God for our sins.  But by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can have peace with Him.


So turn to Christ and live!  Only by turning from your sins and trusting in Jesus Christ can you be saved.

Not any God will do.  Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. 

Eternal life is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ who He has sent

He tells us that unless we repent, we will perish, and that there is no name under heaven but the name of Jesus Christ by which we must be saved.

So turn to Him.  Repent of your sins, and trust in Christ alone for your salvation.  He is a good God, a loving God, and a forgiving God

He will change you and bless you in ways you cannot begin to imagine.  He will cause you to be born again, and give you a new heart, so that your greatest desire will be to praise, worship, and obey Him

So come to Him, if you are weary and burdened, and He will give you rest.  Turn to Christ and be saved!

Acts 1 also tells us that one day, Jesus Christ will return, in the same way He went into heaven

He will return to judge the living and the dead, and every one of us will have to answer to Him

I pray that before that day comes, you will repent and trust in Him.  I pray that when I arrive in heaven, although I don’t deserve it, that I will see all of you as well.  Trust in Christ, while He has given you time.

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