Listen To The Audio Below:
In Acts chapter 6 and 7 Stephen is preaching the Gospel and people are getting saved. His enemies falsely accused him of blasphemy, and he’s taken to the religious leaders. In his defense he gives them a history lesson of Israel’s disobedience, and then he continues:
“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: 49 “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?’51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” 54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. 8 And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison” (Acts 7:48-8:3).
In this post we are continuing our series, “Back to The Basics.” My goal for this series is to help you build a firm foundation for your faith as you navigate life’s challenges. And I’ve been doing that by telling you stories. I just read you the beginning of Paul/Saul’s story. So how does a man go from that, to writing this, in Galatians 1:13-2:10? “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God [God’s community of Jews and peoples from the nations called out of a dying world] and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Kefa (Simon Peter) and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles – only Ya’akov [James], the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.”
Paul then writes in 2 Cor. 11:24-26, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.”
How could he change so dramatically? You can’t even get your favorite cousin to change their political views. Well, I’ll tell you how. He met the Lord Jesus. Today I want to talk with you about the Lordship of Christ. Jesus is called Lord more than 700 times in the New Testament. It’s not possible to build a foundation for your faith without understanding the Lordship of Christ. The cornerstone of the Christian faith is built on the reality that Jesus Christ is God.
In Colossians 1:15-20 Paul clearly tells us that Jesus is God: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
Jesus is God incarnate. He is God in human form. He came to earth to live among us. He is both fully God and fully man, but that does not diminish His deity in any way. Jesus is revealed as the Creator, and the Head of the Church, and as the Savior of the world.
Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
In the NIV it says, “Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being” because Jesus is God in human flesh. Jesus identified Himself as God, and the religious leaders at the time were not confused by His claims.
We’re told in John 5:18, “the Jews began trying all the more to kill Him: not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Jesus didn’t leave any doubt when He boldly proclaimed in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.”
In John 8:58-59, Jesus tells the Jews, “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’ Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”
You may be thinking, they just misunderstood what He was saying. But consider John 10:32-33: “Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.’” No, they didn’t misunderstand. They understood very clearly.
In Matthew 12:8 Jesus responded to the assaults of the religious leaders by saying, “The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath.”
Jesus’ sovereign authority as God can be seen in two other passages from the Gospel of John. In John 10 Jesus has just portrayed Himself as a Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep, and then He gives this powerful statement: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:17-18).
Later, in John 19, Pilate says to Jesus, “‘You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?’ ‘You would have no authority over Me at all,’ Jesus answered him, ‘if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin’” (John 19:10-11).
Pilate may have thought he was in control. The Religious Leaders who handed Jesus over may have thought they were in control. But the fact is Jesus was always in complete control. He willingly allowed Himself to be delivered up to death, and then He willingly died for the sins of the world. To grasp the Lordship of Jesus Christ we must understand that He is God!
John 1:1 says it perfectly: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” And then John said in John 1:14, “And Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
A few verses later as the story of Jesus begins to unfold in the Gospel, we hear John the Baptist proclaim, “‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me”’” (John 1:29-30).
Jesus is the Lamb of God because He is God in human flesh. Jesus existed before John the Baptist because He’s eternal. He’s the great “I Am.” He was, and is, and is to come.
So, what are the implications of Jesus being God in our personal Christian walk? First let me say, if Jesus isn’t God, you are still dead in your sin and separated from God the Father. But…If He is God, it has powerful implications. It changes everything. Every area of my life can be transformed! If Jesus is Lord, we are dangerous!
Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:18-22, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church…”
What? The same power and mighty strength that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us, His church?!
Paul continues in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”
Paul knew what he was talking about, and he was bold, because he experienced God’s power himself. That’s why he went through such a dynamic change in his life. That should get us fired up! Because the real question is, What can’t that power do?
If Jesus is Lord that means my ability to dream is limitless. If Jesus is Lord, I have a purpose and the power to fulfill that purpose.
If Jesus is Lord that means my healing is limitless. Psalm 34:17-19 reminds us, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all…”
We need to believe that there is no power on this earth that can have victory over God’s people—no struggle, physical or emotional, that we will ever face that the Lord cannot redeem.
Colossians 2:9-10 reminds us, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”
Brought to fulness! Spiritual fullness…Yes! Emotional fullness…Yes! Jesus is sufficient to meet all of our needs! Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
Finally, if Jesus is Lord, I have a choice to make. Jesus said in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” That something is the Lord Jesus Christ! Everything I just described is available to you through Jesus.
The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
John 1:29 says, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
In Romans 3:23 it says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
In Romans 6:23 we read, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, what do I need to do? “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
If that’s your desire today, pray this simple prayer:
Lord Jesus, for too long I’ve kept you out of my life. For too long I’ve been trying to go it alone. Lord, I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. I will no longer close the door when I hear you knocking. By faith I receive your gift of salvation. I am ready to trust you as my Lord and Savior. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead. Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. Fill me with the power of your resurrection. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior. Amen.
If you made that choice today make sure you connect with me so I can help you take your next spiritual steps.
Pastor Jeff Greer