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A.D. The Bible Continues

Part 4 - Good News and Bad News

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(4/26) Doctor: I have some good news and I have some bad news.

Patient: What's the good news?

Doctor: The good news is that the tests you took showed that you have 24 hours to live.

Patient: That's the good news? What's the bad news?

Doctor: The bad news is that I forgot to call you yesterday!

Gallery Owner: I have some good news and some bad news.

Artist: What's the good news?

Gallery Owner: The good news is that a man came in here today asking if the price of your paintings would go up after you die. When I told him they would he bought every one of your paintings.

Artist: That's great! What's the bad news?

Gallery Owner: The bad news is that man was your doctor!

I. The Bad News Ė We are in a Fight with the Evil One (4:1-7)

With the right comedian, those can be funny. But what is not funny, is the reality that with the Good News, The Gospel of Jesus Christ and all He gives to us (Freedom, Forgiveness, Love, Joy, Peace, Life, etc.), there is bad news. The bad news is that we have an enemy and He hates Jesus and He hates you. You have a bullís eye painted on your back. His goal is to trap you, tempt you, hurt you and if he can, to kill you. That is not a joke. This is serious stuff. Following Jesus is to enter a war. Our Lord Jesus said these things:

John 10:10, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."

John 15:18-21, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ĎA servant is not greater than his master.í If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My nameís sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me."

Paul told Timothy and all of us, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Tim. 3:12) To the Church at Ephesus (6:10-13) Paul said: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Peter adds, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world," (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Our blessed Lord taught us that whenever we pray we should be mindful of the fight (Matt. 6:13). "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil or the evil one." Now there are many more scriptures that warn us of the bad news that comes with the Good News. There is only one way to avoid the bad news; that is, donít live Godly; donít follow Jesus. Sadly in America we often think that if we follow Jesus and become Godís children, that we will be sheltered from bad things. But our Lord plainly said, since you are related to me, what they did to me, they will do to you. He also said, that your decision to accept His gifts and become a follower also included a cross to carry. Again, you are part of the, "If anyone comes after me, He must deny Himself, take up his cross and follow me," crowd (Matt. 16:24). Satan wants to destroy you. Thatís the bad news.

It could be from temptation on the internet or TV, flirtation at work, or rules and laws that forbid you from displaying your faith or speaking out against sin, to physical attacks on your person or life. Last week ISIS killed 28 or 30 more Christians in Libya, calling them enemies of the cross (that little word, of, means belonging to, in this case), as they recalled both the Middle Ages Crusades and the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Every year around 200,000 Christians are killed for their faith. I have told you before that more people have died in the 20th century for being Christ-Followers, than in all the first 19 centuries combined.

We are at the point, even in America, where few people mind you speaking of God, but forbid you to speak in the name of Jesus. They find it offensive and intolerant of other faiths. I told you last week, that for anyone who opens the Senate in the state of Md. with a prayer, that prayer must first be written and submitted to the recording secretary. It can refer to God, Lord, and Father in heaven, but cannot include the name of Jesus, either in content or conclusion. The same is happening with our military chaplains. Remember that I told you that 120 years ago, William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army made this statement about the then up-coming 20th century, "I am of the opinion that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, Forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell." What does this have to do with the A.D. series and the book of Acts? Everything!

In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit came upon His Church. I heard a Jewish Christian say, God likes to do things on Jewish Holidays. Jesus died on Passover, Rose again on the Feast of First Fruits, and started His Church on Pentecost. He believes that the Rapture could occur on Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets which is the next major Jewish Holiday after Pentecost. Every September I say, "Maybe this year." In Acts 2, Peter boldly preached and 3000 people responded to his invitation to repent and follow Jesus.

In Acts 3:1-11, Peter heals a man in Jesus name, who had been born lame and was now over 40 years old. A crowd gathers and he preaches his second sermon (3:12-36) and people are coming to faith in the resurrected Lord in record numbers. The men alone now number over 5000 (4:4). If we estimate their wives and children 10-20,000 people have confessed faith in Jesus in just a few days. Thatís good news.

The bad news is Peter and John are arrested and spent a night in jail. And, this will not be the last time that will happen. If you read the entire book of Acts and then 2 Corinthians, you will see that painful attacks, imprisonment, martyrdom, and thorns became a regular part of the Apostleís lives. Why? Because (4:2) these men preached that Jesus is alive and gives the promise of forgiveness and life to all who will believe in His name. Movie Clip

There is just one way to get out of the fight. Throw in the towel. Do not follow Jesus. Do not speak out against evil, and do not tell people that Jesus is the only way of salvation and eternal life. Do not live Godly. Paul said that all who do live Godly will be persecuted. Choosing to follow Jesus offers Good, no, Great news, but it also contains the bad news. Every Morning Prayer, should include a desire for protection from the evil one as our Lord taught us. Are you willing to stand up and fight the enemy of your souls?

II. The Good News is - We be can be Filled with the Holy Spirit (4:8a).

Luke tells us before Peter spoke, that he was filled with the Spirit because the Holy Spirit had come to live in him. Over the last century there has been confusion over this term - spirit-filled. Our Charismatic and Pentecostal friends refer to this as people who have a second experience that is usually manifested with the gift of tongues which Acts 2 plainly tells us is speaking the wonderful works of God in another earthly language. Paul says, that this gift of tongues was given so that unbelieving Jews would know that God is taking the Gospel to the world. In 1 Cor. 14:21 he quotes Isaiah 28:11-12, "For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, 12 To whom He said, "This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest," And, "This is the refreshing"; Yet they would not hear."

But listen, being filled with the Spirit is not receiving a divine zap. It is a personal willingness to obey and follow Jesus no matter what. It is not necessarily something that happens to you, it is something you choose to do. Paul will tell us that it is a daily, if not moment by moment decision, that you choose to make. It is a command to be obeyed. He said (Eph. 5:18), "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit." This is an imperative not a suggestion. You Ė stop trying to find something to make you forget or relax, or feel better, with things that have no redeeming value, and start being filled with the Spirit.

How? To be filled is simply to be controlled. You must understand this. If you are filled with anger, how are going to act? If you are filled with grief, how are you going to act? If you are filled with joy, how are you going to act? If you are filled with alcohol or marijuana or cocaine, or heroin, how are you going to act? Okay, so if you are filled with the Holy Spirit how are going to act? You are going to act like Jesus. To be filled with the Spirit is to be aware that He is with you and in you. It is to study Godís word so that it is in your brain and in your blood. Someone said, "I want to be so full of Christ that when a mosquito bites me, he or she leaves singing, "there is power in the blood.í" And, it is your decision to obey Godís Word and let the Holy Spirit do what He does. It is yielding control of your life to God. It is to trust and obey God regardless of the circumstances or consequences. You can either respond to your circumstances in your own way, according to your flesh, or your anger, or as the world suggests or you can respond according to the Bible and the Holy Spirit of God in you. You must choose! Do you understand this? Will you be filled with the Spirit this day? How about tomorrow? Every decision, every choice, every action should be preceded with a question, What would Jesus do; What did Jesus say to do; What Biblical precedent, principle, or precept applies here?

Our Lord said to the apostles and to us, (Matt.10:16) "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."

I can tell you that Peter and John did not stay up all night wondering what they might say or how they would survive. They knew God had a plan and they trusted and obeyed Him no matter what. They were filled with the Spirit. How will you respond when the enemy attacks or when God tests, or when you have decisions to make? Be filled with the Spirit and trust and obey God no matter what.

III. The Good News is - We Have a Firm Foundation with Jesus (vv. 8-12).

For a building to last for any length of time, it must be firmly connected to a good foundation. Our Lord Jesus said He was going to build His church and it would be built on a massive Rock, (Matthew. 16:18). Though Peter is here preaching and Jesus said this to Peter and the others, and although Peterís name means Rock, or a stone, Jesus was referring to Himself and/or Peterís confession of Jesus as Messiah and Lord. One of the prophecies concerning the Messiah is that He would be rejected. Jesus Himself quotes from the same text (Matt. 21:42) that Peter does here in Acts 4. In fact, Peter will use this quote again in 1 Peter 2:7. It comes from Psalm 118:22, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lordís doing; It is marvelous in our eyes." Isaiah 28:16-17a, also says, "thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ĎWhoever believes will not be in haste.í

17 And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb lineí"

A Cornerstone in ancient times was the most important stone in the construction of any building. It had to be set perfect because the rest of the building would be built in reference to that stone. Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone and our foundation.

Much of America and the world has also rejected Godís stone, which is the chief cornerstone not only of the Church, but of our lives. Our Lord told the story on at least 2 occasions about two builders (Matt. 7 and Luke 6). One builder made sure He had a solid foundation for His home, the other built on the sand without a foundation. When the homes were tested with the storms of life, the one built on the sand collapsed while the one attached to a strong foundation stood secure. He may have been referring to the storms of life that test our faith or the time of Judgement when everyone will appear before His throne and the books are opened, and whoever was not found written in the Lambs Book of Life will forever be in the Lake of Fire with Satan, his Beast and the False Prophet.

What does it mean to say Jesus is our foundation? It means that we know that our faith is built on Jesus and Jesus alone. "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," (Verse 12). It is not built on us, our good works, or our religious deeds; it is built on who He is and what He did when He died on the cross and rose from the dead for us.

It also means we know that His word is the best and only true way to live and conduct our lives and business. We know that when we trust and obey all He says in this Book, our lives will be secure. We will do what is right and we can sleep at night. When we live according to His will, we have nothing to fear when the storms come, whether they are the tests of this life or when we stand before His throne. Jesus said those who do the will of God will stand. What have you built your life on, your faith on? Your goodness, your good intentions, Your hard work, your possessions, or the finished work and the will of Jesus? To fight the good fight, you must be grounded on a firm foundation. Jesus is that cornerstone, that foundation. Paul said to the Ephesians (2:19-22), "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Listen to these sobering words: For we are Godís fellow workers; you are Godís field, you are Godís building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each oneís work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each oneís work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyoneís work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyoneís work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Cor.3:9-15)

The Rulers of Jerusalem rejected what God intended to be the cornerstone of their foundation. They killed their Messiah and wanted His name to be silenced. But it could not be.

IV. Our Faith Must be Obedient Regardless of the Bad News (vv. 13-22).

They trusted God and were determined to obey God regardless of the costs. A Merciful Miracle had cost them a night in jail and a day on trial. In fairness the Sanhedrin and priests and elders had an obligation, according to Deut. 18, to test any prophet or prophecy or wonderful work and determine whose name it was done in, in order to determine whether this was an act of God or the devil. Peter had 3 times denied knowing Jesus and he would never repeat that again, He would speak about Jesus regardless of opposition, and regardless of the potentially bad circumstances. Thatís what faith does. Thatís what Hebrews 11 is all about. Is that what your faith is all about? I will obey God because I trust Him, no matter what. I will be honest. I will speak of Jesus and I will not be ashamed to be known as His.

Sometimes our Lord will allow us to suffer so we can share our hope in Jesus. Peter would later tell us (1 Peter 3:14-17), But even if you should suffer for righteousnessí sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Living for Christ isnít always easy. We will face opposition. But we must obey God in the midst of opposition and stand firm because He is worthy! Because He died for us, the least we can do is live for Him. We must take a stand by being obedient.

One of the things I loved about the movie, Do You Believe, is when the first responder had the choice of saying he was wrong and he was sorry for sharing the gospel with a dying man or losing everything by standing on his convictions of being obedient to Jesus. The easy way, or the worldís way may seem the logical way, but it will not honor God and will leave you with lifelong regrets. Obey God no matter what.

Peter and John had been used by God to heal a man more than 40 years old that had been crippled from birth. They stood firm and obedient in their faith. They responded under the control of the Holy Spirit. Thousands of people came to faith in Jesus. The rulers of Jerusalem, knowing that these men had no formal schooling, knew this. These men had been with Jesus. Their lives were conformed to His likeness. Their words were like His. They had heard Him speak of the rejected cornerstone not too long ago. They did what Jesus would do.

A serious yet relevant question. Can people tell that you are a Christian by looking at your life and listening to your words, or are they surprised when you tell them that you are a Christ Follower?

I wish I could preach the rest of this chapter, I think verses 23-31 are awesome. I would love to see that duplicated. They knew this is a war we are engaged in. The name of Jesus and the souls of people are at stake. Prayer, boldness to speak, and the courage to attempt great things for God takes commitment. But if you are serious about following Jesus, and you ask according to His will, He will give you the courage and the ability to accomplish more than you can imagine.

The Bad News is that the war will go on and intensify until Jesus returns. The Good News is that in the end we win. We are forgiven, adopted, secure, and we are bound for heaven and we will never die. The bad news, to quote Ringo Starr, is that it donít come easy. There will be battles to fight, pain to endure and a cross to carry. Being a true Christ Follower isnít for sissies.

INVITATION / CLOSING

First, some of you here may be wavering in your faith. If thatís you, God says, "Fear not, trust in Me." Jesus has overcome the world, and He will help you overcome whatever youíre facing. Stand firm in Christ today. God is with you. You arenít alone. We all face challenges, and together God wants us to stand firm, to obey Him, to grow in Him, and to let Him shine through our lives. Please come up front and let us pray for you.

Second, there may be some of you who havenít ever surrendered your life to Christ. I want you to know today that Jesus wants to become the cornerstone of your life. He died on the cross and rose again so that you could trust Him with your life. He did all this because He loves you. He wants to forgive you and be the foundation of your life. You just have to invite Him into your life. I would love to help you with that. Come on up and begin your life with a do over with Jesus today.

Letís pray about it.

If this life lesson has challenged, encouraged or helped you, let me know, or if you have any questions, write to me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you. (p.s. I wonít put you on a mailing list or ask you for money). It would encourage me to know that you were encouraged.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman