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Final Words

Before departing, Jesus explains the divine plan.
Lesson 60 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

– Luke 24:44–49

He opened their minds to understand the events that had taken place in light of all that had been spoken through the prophets from ages past. He explained that for the forgiveness of sins, it was necessary that He suffer death and rise again.And He spoke of the Kingdom of God, saying that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him. Now the time had come for Jesus to go to the Father, and prepare a place in heaven for all those who love Him. Jesus promised His followers that soon the Spirit of God would come and empower them to share His truth and love and forgiveness with the whole world. After saying this, Jesus left them and ascended into the clouds.

– The HOPE, Chapter 11

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

When we sense that time may be short we often choose our words more carefully. For this reason, final words are likely to be more important, even life changing words. In the brief time after His resurrection and before His ascending to heaven, Jesus spent precious time with His followers. During that time, He explained:

  • What had happened to Him – Jesus explained that His death and resurrection were all part of the plan that had been foretold in God’s Word. It was necessary that He die for the forgiveness of sin.
  • What would happen next to them – On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples that He would go to the Father to prepare a place for them in heaven (John 14:2-3). But He also promised to send another, One from the Father whom He called the Helper (John 14:16-20). As the time for Jesus’ departure drew near, Jesus reiterated the promise He made to His disciples: to send this One who is in fact the Spirit of God and who is known in the Bible as the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17, Acts 3:3;Acts 4:31; Acts 5:32).
  • What His followers should keep on doing until they are reunited with Him – Jesus told His followers that until He returned they were to share the truth of what they had witnessed with the whole world, with people from every nation.

In the next and final chapter of our study, we will look more closely at Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit, and His instructions to share His truth with the whole world. But in this lesson, it is fitting that we should conclude our study of His death and resurrection by examining it in the context of God’s grand plan. Continue reading


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Inspired by the Resurrection

Because of the resurrection, all things are possible.
Lesson 59 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

– 1 Peter 1:3

…with God all things are possible.

– Matthew 19:26

After making certain that Jesus was dead, the soldiers allowed His body to be taken down from the cross. By the end of the day, His body would be laid in a tomb, which would be sealed with a very large stone. At the insistence of the religious leaders, soldiers would be posted to guard the tomb. For those who loved Jesus, this was a time of great confusion and loss.

On the morning of the third day after Jesus had been crucified, a group of women went to visit the tomb. They were not the first. Earlier that morning, an angel of God descended from heaven. The soldiers guarding the tomb were struck with fear, and the angel moved the stone that sealed the entrance.

The tomb was empty! Just as He promised, Jesus had risen from the dead!

– The HOPE, Chapter 11

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

The past few lessons have dealt with some “meaty” teaching about the resurrection of Jesus. Now, let’s take what we’ve considered in those lessons, and make it very personal. Reading the account from The HOPE above, and considering what you have already learned, try to put yourself in the place of those who loved Jesus. For those who loved Jesus, this was a time of great confusion and loss.

Jesus had filled His followers’ hearts and minds with many hopes and dreams. This wasn’t just a popular religious leader that was being buried in the tomb; this was the One who had given meaning and purpose to every aspect of their lives. When He died, something in them died as well. Their reason for living was buried behind the huge stone that sealed the entrance to His tomb.

Have you ever experienced the death of your dream of something that inspired and gave meaning to your life? Perhaps someone told you your dream was impossible, or the circumstances of your life changed or became so difficult that you could not see any way to follow your dream. Whatever changed, when it did all hope of your dream seemed dead.

Of course, we know as we read on in the resurrection account that Jesus was raised, and so were the hopes of those who loved Him! But beyond all the theology, beyond all the historical proof of its reality, there is something profoundly personal about the resurrection of Jesus. Because of the resurrection, we can know that with God nothing is impossible! No matter what anyone says, no matter how difficult your circumstances, even if your dream appears to have died…with God nothing is impossible! Jesus’ resurrection from the dead brings hope to the discouraged heart! Continue reading


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The Significance of the Resurrection – Part 2

Man made new – the death of the old man.
Lesson 58 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

– 1 Corinthians 15:17

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

– Romans 6:4-7

…having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

– Colossians 2:12

Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

– 2 Corinthians 5:17

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the previous lesson we considered what the Apostle Paul wrote about the resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19. In this lesson we will continue our study of the resurrection, starting with one verse from that passage. From verse 17 above, we read that if Christ was not raised from the dead, then we are still in our sins. Let’s dig deeper at this precise place.

Recall from Lesson 18 that sin has infected every person since Adam. Now some people have the idea they can rid themselves of sin by living a good life, by becoming an increasingly better person. This is not what the Bible teaches. According to the Bible, the only way to deal with sin is to judge it and put it to death (Romans 8:13), and that is what Jesus accomplished by His death on the cross.

Now notice from Romans 6:5-6 above, that in some sense, when Jesus was crucified, you (your old self) were crucified with Him. As you think about this concept, it may be helpful to keep in mind that because God is not limited by time and space, what God accomplishes in time and space is not limited by the ordinary constraints of time and space. Hence, in some way, though you might not fully grasp it now, Jesus took you with Him to the cross, even though you had not yet been born.

Also, it is important to note that when the Bible uses the term old self (or old man), it is referring to who you were before trusting Jesus to pay for your sin and reconcile you to God. In other words, “old self” refers to who you were as a person under the penalty and the power of sin. So as we carefully read verses 6 and 7, we see that your old self was crucified together with Christ so that “your body of sin might be done away with,” so that you “should no longer be a slave to sin,” but rather be “freed from sin.” God deals with sin by taking you (your old self) to the grave. And continuing with verse 7, “He who has died is freed from sin.” It is a good thing to be freed from the power of sin, but it is not good if we remain dead in a grave. That is why the resurrection is so important! Continue reading


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The Significance of the Resurrection – Part 1

What if Jesus did not rise from the dead?
Lesson 57 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

– 1 Corinthians 15:14–19

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the Bible passage above, the Apostle Paul makes a very strong statement about the significance of the resurrection. Carefully dissecting this passage, Paul says that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, then at least six things are true:

  1. our proclamation of Jesus and the message of Jesus is in vain (v.14)
  2. our faith in Jesus and the message of Jesus is unfounded, and thus worthless (v.14,16)
  3. those who proclaim Jesus are liars and witnesses against God – basically blasphemers (v.15)
  4. we are still hopelessly in bondage to the power of sin (v.16)
  5. we are all doomed to die, and death will forever separate us from our loved ones (v.18)
  6. we are pitiful people if we hang our hopes on, and live our lives according to, a lie (v.19)

 

Bible scholars since the time of Paul have emphasized that what Jesus accomplished on the cross has meaning only if it was followed by His resurrection! In this lesson, and the next, we’ll consider the significance of the resurrection by looking at Paul’s argument in greater detail.

All of Paul’s preaching was based on who Jesus claimed to be, as it was revealed to him and the other apostles (Jesus’ inner circle of disciples).

Numerous times Jesus claimed that three days after His crucifixion, He would rise from the dead.1 If Jesus spoke falsely about this, then everything He said was suspect, and worse, He could not be God because God cannot lie. Continue reading


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The Resurrection – Fact or Fiction?

Proof of the resurrection.
Lesson 56 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

…as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.”

– Matthew 28:1–6

On the morning of the third day after Jesus had been crucified, a group of women went to visit the tomb. They were not the first. Earlier that morning, an angel of God descended from heaven. The soldiers guarding the tomb were struck with fear, and the angel moved the stone that sealed the entrance. The tomb was empty! Just as He promised, Jesus had risen from the dead!

…Over the next forty days, Jesus physically appeared to many people. With some He walked and talked. With others He shared a meal. In one instance, He appeared before more than five hundred people.

– The HOPE, Chapter 11

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

How important is the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus? The Apostle Paul wrote that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, then our faith is worthless! (1 Corinthians 15:17). In upcoming lessons we gain a deeper appreciation of Paul’s powerful statement as we consider the significance of the resurrection. But let’s start by examining the overwhelming evidence that the resurrection of Jesus actually occurred, and that it was not just a fabrication or a myth as some skeptics claim.

Volumes have been written on this subject, but for the purpose of our study, we will consider four areas of evidence:

  • The Empty Tomb – Jesus had said publicly that He would rise from the dead. Knowing this, the Hebrew religious leaders feared that someone might try to steal His body and then start a resurrection rumor. So they convinced the governor to post soldiers at the grave site and to place an official seal on the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66). The governor’s soldiers were highly motivated to guard the tomb, for they knew that if they failed to obey orders the punishment could be death. Breaking a government seal was also punishable by death – and yet the tomb was empty!
  • The Eye Witnesses – The Bible records numerous encounters that various people (including His inner circle of disciples who knew Him better than most) had with the resurrected Jesus (Matthew 28:9-10,Matthew 16:20; Mark 16:12-18; Luke 24:13-43; John 20:14-18, John 26:29; John 21:15-23). On one occasion Jesus appeared to a group of 500 people at once (1 Corinthians 15:6).
  • The Response of the Disciples – Even in light of the empty tomb and eyewitnesses, some argue that the account of Jesus’ resurrection was a carefully designed conspiracy. But that argument loses its strength when you consider the passionately committed lives of His disciples after the resurrection. Many of those who followed Jesus, including all but one of His twelve disciples, were martyred for their steadfast belief in Him. More than any others, these men would have known if the resurrection was a hoax. Yet they were boiled in oil, sawed in half, crucified upside down, thrown to lions and speared to death. Some men are willing to die for what they believe is true, but only a madman or a fool would die for what he knew was a lie.
  • The Testimony of Experts – In a court of law, experts are often called upon to evaluate evidence. Throughout time countless scholars have weighed in on the evidence for the resurrection and concluded it to be a fact of history. As stated above, volumes have been written on this subject. As an example, consider the following quote from Thomas Arnold, Royal Professor of Modern History at Oxford and author of the book, History of Rome: “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”

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Do You Have Living Hope?

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter
Part 2 of a 3-part series on Hope

Yesterday morning I watched a video, taken on a mobile phone, of a young pastor in a country dominated by militant Muslims. He was being martyred for sharing his faith. The frenzied screaming of masked men holding a knife to his neck, yelling at him to recant, was more than I could bear. Knowing what was about to take place, I was grateful that the man showing the video turned it off just before they took the pastor’s life. I was, and still am, deeply affected by what I viewed. It is sobering to know that this kind of thing is taking place in many parts of the world today. (And the pastor’s example was a sharp contrast to the touchy, feely, whiny cultural Christianity that pervades America.)

It is no mistake that the subject of today’s devotional (Part 2 of a 3 part series on “hope”) was planned last week. Our focal verse is 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .” That young pastor stood firm for Christ, his “living hope” was stronger and more real than anything possessed by (or that possessed) his captors.

In context of this verse and those that follow, it is clear that our living hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ; not only on the fact that it actually happened, but also on what He accomplished in our behalf as a result. Because of the resurrection we have an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for us (v.4)!

Consider the following. Each thought lays a foundation for the next. Continue reading