How to discern a call from God (sermon supplement)

Here are some helpful thoughts and ideas that will hopefully help your understanding as we look at the life of Paul on April 8, 2018 and allow me to keep my messages focused on applicable content and shorter:-)

1. Timeline of Paul’s conversion. (Source: Paul the apostle by Robert E. Picirilli, pg. 52)

  • 33/34 AD conversion
  • 33/34 AD days in Damascus Acts 9:19-21
  • 33/34-35/36 AD time in Damascus Galatians 1:15-17
  • 36 AD ministry in Damascus Acts 9:22-25
  • 36 AD first return to Jerusalem Acts 9:26-29; Gal. 1:18-20
  • 36-42AD ministry in Tarsus Acts 9:30-31, Gal. 1:21-24
  • 42-43 AD ministry with Barnabas at Antioch, Acts 11:19-26
  • 44 AD second return to Jerusalem, for famine relief, Acts 11:27-30; 12:25 (Gal. 2:1-10)
  • 45-46 AD first missionary journey Acts 13:1-14:28

2. Paul’s hometown: Tarsus

A close look of the ancient city of Tarsus reveals that Paul’s hometown was no small town, middle of nowhere, but a busy metropolis of diverse culture and international commerce. Its strategic location explains its significance and success. It was a port city, yet also a favorite vacation spot for Roman dignitaries.

God shaped Paul’s mission to the gentiles through his upbringing in Tarsus. It was a bustling metropolis where many different cultures interacted. Paul’s parents likely were well off, yet strived to raise Paul according to the Jewish law. They likely sent him to Jerusalem when he was around 12 years old. He sat under Gamaliel for around 5 or 6 years. Gamaliel was the Grandson of Hillel, who was one of the most famous Jewish rabbis that ever lived. Paul would have learned the scriptures thoroughly and learned to debate in the question and answer style known as the “diatribe”.

3. Paul’s conversion and the death of his dreams.

I believe that one of the many things Paul would have wrestled with during his time in Arabia is the loss of his personal dreams. Paul was working his way up the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court. He was gaining influence in Jerusalem and on the fast track. His conversion meant he would no longer pursue the dream he likely had since leaving Tarsus around the age of 12 years old to study under Gamaliel.

My wife can preach!

  

This past Sunday, my wife helped me preach.  We talked about how men and women are called to love each other in marriage and focused on the key to everything: forgiveness.  She brought a very valuable woman’s perspective.  If you want to check it out, CLICK HERE!

She did a great job and will be helping me out again very soon!

We did what they said couldn’t be done!

In the past week, we’ve had a number of contractors or people come into our new church space and ask, “When will you guys move in?”  Each time we told them, “This Sunday”, they immediately laughed or looked at us with disbelief.  

But we did it.

And by we, I mean our awesome church members, who volunteered late hours and every Sunday in January and February to make it happen.  It has been incredible to watch so many people work together on various projects.  

   

  

  

  

  

Connection Point Church is (soft) launching this Sunday

This past Sunday was our largest non-holiday attendance at CPC.  It was also the last Sunday in our current space.  This Sunday we are moving into our new, larger church space.  Our new space is more than double our current space and will allow us to grow beyond our current capacity.  

A soft launch means that we are moving into the new space, but we do not consider it 100% complete.  

The lobby will be missing some furniture.  Many of the new signs and details are not quite ready.  We consider it a soft launch because it allows us to work out the Sunday kinks in our new space.  We are making many upgrades to our church.  We are tweaking how we check people in, how we do kids ministry (now that we have more rooms), and how we communicate our vision.  

Our Grand Opening Day will be on Easter Sunday, March 27th. 

 

Here is a rendering of our new sign, which should be in place by Easter Sunday
 
So what can we expect this week?

A great service in a great new space!  Our worship team will be leading us in some awesome worship from a great new stage with added lights.  My wife and I will be continuing our sermons series called, “LOVE DOCTOR”.  This week we will be tag team preaching on the topic of marriage.  

I hope you will pray for us and even stop by this Sunday.  Jesus is doing great things at Connection Point Church!

The four biggest secrets to a great marriage (part 1)

I just started preaching a marriage series at our church.  This series is basically the result of more than a decade of counseling others in their marriages, preparing new couples to be married, and from my own Marraige.  These are (in my opinion) the most important keys to a successful, lifelong marriage.

#1- Understand the real definition of love- COVENANT

Imagine how your decisions would change if you knew you would never leave your current job.  You would not be promoted and you could not be fired.  That knowledge would affect your decision making.

Perhaps you would decide-

  • “I’m going to start treating everyone better because I’m stuck here.  I might as well enjoy where I’m at.”
  • “I’m going to stop looking for ways to put myself ahead of everyone, I’m just going to try and do my job to the best of my ability”
  • “If I’m going to be around these people for the rest of my life, I’m going to see if we can all be happy”
  • “I’m not going to engage in this fight because even if I win, I’m stuck with this person tomorrow.  I might as well make peace.”

or perhaps you would decide-

  • “I hate these people and I just don’t care anymore.  I’m going to just be miserable forever”
  • “I’m stuck here, I might as well get as much as I can out of this- I’ll cheat, lie, steal, and hurt whoever I need to make sure I’m good.”
  • “I’m stuck around these people for the rest of my life, I might as well make sure I’m happy and just tune them out because they don’t matter”
  • “I’m going to win these arguments and let everyone know I’m right, even if it means we won’t talk to each other for months.”

 

 

 

 

 

God defines love as a covenant, not a feeling.


The Bible defines God’s love for us as a Covenant.  A covenant is the strongest promise that can be made.  A marriage covenant is this strong promise aimed at a spouse and equally bound to God.  That’s right.  When we get married, we are bonding ourselves to God that we will never abandon this promise.  Even if our spouse deserves it.  Our promise was to God, not simply a person.

So if it a commitment for life, then your perspective should change.

If I’m committing to marriage for life, I should make wise choices.

(I preached on this topic Sunday.  You can listen here)

I’m going back to Peru (and you can too!)

 I am headed back to Peru this Summer!  Since 2012, we have started 21 churches in Peru and seen over 1475 people enter into a relationship with Jesus!  

If you’d like to support me, you can do so here!

Here is a recap of some of our work in Puno:

The hospitality of the Quechua people is unmatched!
Juliaca City is the epitome of a small town airport!
We were rockin’ the old school tech. And this wasn’t the Holiday Inn!

The fellowship of the team is one of my favorite parts of a trip!
  
Pastor Rene oversees the churches in Puno. I talked with him a few days ago
  
What do you do when the cops come? Tell them about Jesus!
  
  I love hearing the Quechua language being prayed!
One of the small churches we helped to start and strenghten.
  
Leading people to Jesus in a beautiful city!
  
  

The hospitality of the Quechua people is unmatched!

CPC is Moving!

One thing I love about our church is that we get things done!  We recently began renovating a larger space in our center for our church.  I love to see the church build a church by physically building our church.  It takes everyone to see God move in our church like this!  We were able to raise the money and manpower to literally build a church.   Thanks to all you CPCers that have given time and money to build a place to reach our community!

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 

Starting new churches in Peru.

Our mission in Peru last month was to start 6 churches and encourage and train them so that we can return next year and partner with them to start at least 6 more.  The trip was challenging, but extremely successful.  Our group partnered with pastors to help  them start churches.  Here are the teams that started churches.

2015-07-06 11.11.24
Church in San Jose, Puno
Janet Williams - IMG_8465
Church in Capachica
las cruces team
Church in Las Cruces, Puno
crystal houghton - 20150709_091800
Church in Canche Grande
Joey Williams - 2015-07-09 11.01.57
Jasana Chico

In light of recent events…

This blog post is written primarily to members of Connection Point Church and secondary to believers anywhere.  As you are aware, the Supreme Court decision last Friday redefined marriage in the United States.  Many of us prayed that the outcome of the decision would be different. Over the past week, I have seen a wide variety of beliefs and opinions about how Christians should respond to this decision.   In light of this new law in the land, I believe it is a great opportunity for the church to clarify the correct beliefs of a Christ Follower.  On Sunday, I addressed these topics in a sermon and would like to share a few thoughts from it.  If you would like to view or listen to the sermon in it’s entirety, you may do so here.

  1.  We exist to glorify God.

Before a Christian responds to anything, he or she should understand our primary purpose in life.  This is a meta-theme that is found throughout the entire Bible.  Jesus taught His followers to be the light of the world so that everyone who encounters us would give glory to God.

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

  1. A Christ Follower must light the way with HUMILITY.

Paul instructs us to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing“.  For a Christian, this means that we should light the way with humility when we disagree with others, especially those that do not believe what we believe.  Posting an out of context verse or a divisive post only creates grumbling and leads to more disputes.  Here is a great principle that any Christ Follower should take note of :

We cannot judge those who are not Christ Followers as if they are Christ Followers.

One of the most arrogant and misdirected responses that we can make is to assume that others are just like us.  Even Paul warns the church against this error.  As a Christian, I must seek to light the way to Jesus with love and humility to those that do not follow Jesus.  It is not profitable to judge a person by a standard they don’t accept.

Let’s say I was walking along a road and met a fellow traveler going in a different direction.  If I were to say to the person, “you are going the wrong way, you silly traveler.  You’ll never reach my destination on that path…” The other traveler would simply look at me as if I were absurd because he never intended to go my way.  It is only after I invite him to come along with me and he decides to go that way that it makes sense for me to expect him to follow the directions that will lead to my destination.

Rather than getting upset that a person is gay and telling them they are on the wrong path, a better way is to invite them to follow Jesus.  Serve them in a way that they can’t deny the influence of Jesus in your own life.  Only after a person experiences and understands the love of Jesus, will they open their hearts to his rules and will for them.  Jesus always began with humility and forgiveness.

  1.  A Christ Follower must light the way with love and good works.

Both Jesus and the apostle Paul challenged us to light the world with our actions.  Remember that the church should be a glimpse of heaven on earth.  When those outside the church look at us, we should reflect the forgiveness and love of God to one another. This means that we must light the way by serving one another.  We must love those we disagree with and pray for those with different opinions!  We will never lead people to desire the things of God until we apply.  Those outside the church should know us by our love, not the things we stand against.

  1. A Christ Follower must light the way with Strong Theology.

I must allow God to tell me how to honor him.  I don’t get to decide how to honor God.  Consider this example.  Imagine I arrive home one day to find that my wife has bought me some peppermint ice cream.  She then exclaims, “I love you so much I simply wanted to show you how much I love you”.  It may seem like a nice gesture, until you understand that I can’t stand peppermint ice cream.  The truth is my wife enjoys peppermint ice cream and so decided to buy it for me.  She either knew I didn’t like it and gave it to spite me or she never took the time to find out what ice cream I prefer and her display of love is misguided and innocent, yet selfish.  The only way she can truly honor me is to ask me what ice cream I like and then give that to me.  (FYI, My wife did surprise me with my favorite ice cream this week, chocolate chip cookie dough!)

When Paul wrote to the church in the city of Philippi, he explains to them that they must hold fast to God’s word, or they have wasted his time.  If they don’t honor God in the way that God has instructed them to honor God in the scriptures, they have wasted their time!  Only God can tell us how to honor God.  Only by APPLYING (not simply knowing) good theology, can we truly honor God.

If we want to light a path that leads us to glorify God, we must obey His Word, especially when we would prefer to honor ourselves.   Here is a principle for applying theology in our lives:

If God’s Word is clear, I obey his command.  If I am unsure of His Word, I seek to understand the context and meaning of the author and obey the principles I find.  

The key to holding to a strong theology, however, is applying our beliefs with love and grace.  Our lives should light the way to someone who doesn’t follow Christ.  Our beliefs should change our hearts so that we rightly reflect Him to them. Good theology only works when we apply it with grace and love.

I hope this is helpful and remember that the church is the most important agent of truth in the world, so if all else fails, simply love your neighbor as yourself!

A message on sowing and reaping

What do you do when you are in a dry season?  This week’s sermon will give us some great insights to the seasons in life that feel like they are “throwaway” seasons.

As I was preparing for this week, I was reminded of a previous message I taught on this idea. Here is a message I preached a few years back that dealt with a similar idea.  Feel free to listen to it if you have the desire.

Here is a direct link to the audio.

Sermon Notes- Fact 5: The Empty Tomb

FACT 5: The Empty Tomb

Roughly 75% of scholars believe this to be historical fact according to Gary Habermas.

3(of many)  arguments for the empty tomb.

  1. The Jerusalem Factor
  1. Jesus was publicly executed in Jerusalem (uncontroversial) and his resurrection was first claimed there (uncontroversial).  This seems unlikely if there is a tomb with Jesus’ body there.
  2. There are absolutely no Roman or Jewish accounts who point to the tomb or body.  It is astounding that this “smoking gun” would have been missed by early critics.
  3. Nazareth Inscription- It was a capital offense to mess with a tomb.  The disciples could have been prosecuted.  (picture)
    1. Clyde Billington has dated it to AD 41, and interpreted it as evidence for Christians preaching the resurrection of Jesus within a decade of his crucifixion.[21]Marta Sordi, Guarducci, Blaiklock, and L.Herrmann, independently, stated the Nazareth Inscription was certain evidence of Jesus’ empty tomb.[22]
    2. It is my decision [concerning] graves and tombs—whoever has made them for the religious observances of parents, or children, or household members—that these remain undisturbed forever. But if anyone legally charges that another person has destroyed, or has in any manner extracted those who have been buried, or has moved with wicked intent those who have been buried to other places, committing a crime against them, or has moved sepulcher-sealing stones, against such a person, I order that a judicial tribunal be created, just as [is done] concerning the gods in human religious observances, even more so will it be obligatory to treat with honor those who have been entombed. You are absolutely not to allow anyone to move [those who have been entombed]. But if [someone does], I wish that [violator] to suffer capital punishment under the title of tomb-breaker.
  1. Enemy Testimony:
  • Only one competing theory during the next 100 years.
  • The only opposing theory is that the disciples stole the body.
  • 3 different sources claim the disciples did it.  This is big because it is evidence that the tomb is empty.
  • What that means:  The only counter evidence was- “Yes there is an empty tomb, but we know why..”
  • 3 sources make this claim: Matthew, Tertullian, and Justin Martyr
  • No one offers any hint that they knew what happened to his body.
  1. Women Testimony

The primary witnesses are women.  All four gospels have women as the primary witnesses to the empty tomb.

  1. -Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women. (Talmud, Sotah 19a)
  2. – But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, nor let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment. (Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.15)3″
  3. Any evidence which a woman [gives] is not valid (to offer), also they are not valid to offer. This is equivalent to saying that one who is Rabbinically accounted a robber is qualified to give the same evidence as a woman. (Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 1.8)
  4. – Celsus- 2nd century: Celsus, a Greek philosopher who lived in the second century A.D.,
    1. Christianity can’t be true, because the written accounts of the resurrection are based on the testimony of women—and we all know women are hysterical.

– why not have Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea find the tomb.  They were credible.

– This is what we call embarrassing testimony.

 

Disciples stole the body-

  1. If there were guards there, you have to explain how they got it past the guards whose lives were at stake.
  2. You have to explain why they got excited about a dead body.
  3. Why did the disciples die for what they knew to be a lie.
  4. Why would Paul and James convert if they never saw a resurrected Jesus.  (Maybe one would hallucinate, but both- including his brother?)
  5. Why would so many Jewish people, who would find it blasphemous to call a man a God–They don’t even write the name of God, let alone worship a man.  But they did it in a moment.  
  6. Not to mention that the disciples breaking Jewish piety laws, which seems out of character with what we know of the disciples

Three things that happen when you serve

Serving gives us purpose.  I believe that with all of my heart.  If you are going through a time of struggle or a time of wandering, serving is often the antidote to a tough season.  Last week our church was able to participate in the City of Plano’s “Love Where You Live” initiative.  I love seeing our church come together and make a difference in someone’s life. I also love learning new skills that I would never have learned on my own, like installing siding to a house.

Here are three things that happen when you serve:

1. Your perspective gets bigger.  I believe the most joyful people are people who view life from a big picture perspective, not a single moment.  Serving others lets you see that there are other people in this world that have struggles or needs that you could impact.

2. You become less selfish.  Serving someone else will always make you less selfish.  Selfishness is a disease that leads to many vices.  C.S. Lewis considered selfishness or pride as the source of all other sins. Serving others will always move us away from sin and towards love and forgiveness.

3. You get happier!  Serving others leads to a more joyful life.  You will feel a longer, deeper satisfaction after you have served someone than if you simply used that time for yourself.

2015-04-25 10.04.32-1 2015-04-25 10.04.26 HDR 2015-04-25 09.27.45 2015-04-25 09.28.31-1 2015-04-25 09.54.37

So I just want to give a quick shout out to those who served and encourage you to serve someone today!  Just my two cents…

Sermon Notes from History’s Mystery (week 3)

“I am going to use 4 historical facts so strongly attested historically that nearly every scholar that studies the subject agrees, even the skeptical ones”
Fact 1: Jesus died by crucifixion. (this is uncontroversial)
Fact 2: Jesus’ disciples believe he rose from the dead and appeared to them.
What is the evidence that this is true?
  • They claimed it
    • Paul
      • Paul reported that he knew at least some of the other disciples, even the big three, Peter, James, and John.'”‘ Acts reports that the disciples and Paul knew and fellowshipped with one another.
    • Oral Traditions
      • Creeds
        • 1 Corinthians 15
        • “I passed on what I received”
          •      He wrote in 15:3-5, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”-” Several factors mark this as an ancient creed that was part of the earliest traditions of the Christian church and that predate the writings of Paul.” In fact, many critical scholars hold that Paul received it from the disciples Peter and James while visiting them in Jerusalem three years after his conversion. If so, Paul learned it within five years of Jesus’ crucifixion and from the disciples themselves.2′ At minimum, we have source material that dates within two decades of the alleged event of Jesus’ resurrection and comes from a source that Paul thought was reliable.-”
        • 500 people saw
          • What if you had one trustworthy friend say this?
          • What about 10 or even 100?  Paul claims around 500 people who are still alive?
        • Gospels (4x)
          • Not everyone believes they were eyewitnesses, but every serious scholar will accept that they were written from oral traditions within the 1st century.
    • Written Traditions-
      • Clement of Rome
      • Polycarp
How to use the Pow

  • For example, if someone challenges you to establish that the original disciples really made the claim that the risen Jesus had appeared to them, you might respond with the following: “That’s a great question. Let me give you three categories of evidence. First, we have Paul who claims to have known and fellowshipped with the disciples firsthand. He says that they said it. Second, we know of some very early oral tradition that was circulating within the church before the New Testament was even written and points to the disciples saying it. Third, we have written tradition that portrays or assumes the disciples saying that Jesus had appeared to them after he rose from the dead. In all, we have nine independent sources. So you can see why there is a virtually unanimous consensus among scholars today who hold that Jesus’ original disciples said that he appeared to them risen from the dead.”
  • They Suffered
    • Acts
    • Clement of Rome:
      • Because of envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars have been persecuted and contended unto death. Let us set the good apostles before our eyes. Peter, who because of unrighteous envy endured, not one or two, but many afflictions, and having borne witness went to the due glorious place. Because of envy and rivalries, steadfast Paul pointed to the prize. Seven times chained, exiled, stoned, having become a preacher both in the East and in the West, he received honor fitting of his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, unto the boundary on which the sun sets; having testified in the presence of the leaders. Thus he was freed from the world and went to the holy place. He became a great example of steadfastness.”
    • Polycarp
      •  Polycarp, in the above cited letter to the church in Philippi, mentioned the “unlimited endurance” the church had seen in Ignatius, Zosimus, Rufus, the apostle Paul, and the rest of the apostles, among others. He added, “They are in the place due them with the Lord, in association with him also they suffered together. For they did not love the present age….”.’ Through Polycarp, we know that Paul, other apostles, and other believers suffered for their faith. Polycarp himself would follow their example of strength and conviction in the face of martyrdom.
    • Ignatius
    • Tertullian
    • Dyonisius
    • Origen
  • Critical Scholars
    •      Even the highly critical New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann agreed that historical criticism can establish “the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection” and that they thought they had seen the risen Jesus
    •      Atheistic New Testament scholar Gerd Ludemann concludes, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”
    •     Paula Fredriksen of Boston University comments, “I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus. That’s what they say and then all the historic evidence we have afterwards attest to their conviction that that’s what they saw. I’m not saying that they really did see the raised Jesus. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what they saw. But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something.””
OBJECTION:  Many people will suffer and die for what they believe in.
  • Terrorist die for what they believe.  They cannot verify it
  • The disciples died for what they claim to see. They knew if it was true.  They were in a unique position to know if it was true
  • Liars make bad martyrs.
  • Watergate lie was only held for 2 weeks.  (risk wasn’t even death)
Why does it matter?
Romans 4:25- He was handed over to die becuase of our sins and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
– The resurrection shows that sin was paid for.  If he was still dead it would mean that he was still paying for our sins.  God raised Him and it demonstrates that you are free from the penalty that you deserve.

 

Sermon Notes from History’s Mystery (Week 2)


To view the sermon that corresponds to these notes, go here
.

    • The importance of the Resurrection:
  • The resurrection is the test by which we know if Jesus was telling the truth.
  • It is not subjective, like Mormonism or Islam.
    • We will not appeal our beliefs to simple faith in this series, ie, like Islam and Jesus.
      • Islam- If you can produce a better book, then do it.  This is from God because it is awesome.
        • It is from God- therefore your history is wrong.
      • Mormon- If you had asked God, He would tell you this book is true.
    • The resurrection is an historical event.  It can be proved or disproved.
  • 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope[b] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:14-19

  1. The possibilities:20150410080308085200_1295
  2. The Minimal Facts approach (How to respond to questions of the Resurrection)

For more info: GARY HABERMAS- “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus”

  • SIDENOTE: HISTORICAL PROOF DOES NOT AIM FOR ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY.  Can you prove that Alexander the great existed beyond a shadow of doubt?  Can you prove that Homer existed?  There is more reliable evidence for Jesus than these two, yet they are never questioned.
  • What makes an event more reliable:  Multiples sources are good.  Enemy sources are good.  Embarrassing admissions support historical claims(when the author voluntarily weakens his position), Eyewitnesses are good, Early testimony is good.
  • The Minimal Facts approach considers only those data that are so strongly attested historically that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.
  • Only use sources from specialists that are accepted by most scholars, skeptics and non-skeptics.  (Non Christians skeptics will use portions of the New Testament.  If you don’t use it, they will)

Fact #1 – Jesus died by crucifixion

  • That Jesus was executed by crucifixion is recorded in all four gospels.
    • “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical ever can be”- John Dominic Crossan (non-believer)
  • GOSPELS
    • Will Durant- “In the enthusiasm of it’s discoveries has applied to the New Testament tests of authenticity so severe that by them a hundred ancient worthies, such as Hamurabi, David, Socrates would fade to legend.”
  • SOURCE MATERIALS FROM PAUL
    • 1 Corinthians 15 is universally accepted by non Christians scholars as an authentic Pauline epistle.
    • He was in Corinth in 52-52AD.  An inscription dates this to the year he gave it to them.
    • Richard Bauckham says that their is a consensus that Paul received it around 35 AD.
      • His math:  Paul became a Christian.  (How soon is Acts 9 after Acts 1).  Most say 2-3 years after.  If we take 2 years, then Galatians 1 says he spent 3 years in Arabia, then went to Jerusalem.  In Galatians 1:18, Paul says he spent times with Peter and James.  The theme of Galatians is “get the Gospel right”.   They talked about the Gospels.  So, source materials within 5 years of Galatians 2:7-10, where Paul says that James, John, and Peter confirm that 1 Cor. 15 is the Gospel message.
    • 1 Corinthians 15 is in stanzas was put in this cadence around 6 months after Jesus.
      • 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:
      • that Christ died for our sins
      • in accordance with the Scriptures,
      • 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day
      • in accordance with the Scriptures,
  • NON CHRISTIAN SOURCES
  • A number of non-Christian sources of the period report the event as well
    • Josephus– “When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified”.
    • Tacitus– “Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  Christus, from whom they name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate.
    • Lucian (the play entitled, “Death of Peregrine”)– “It was now that he came across the priests and scribes of the Christians, in Palestine, and picked up their queer creed. I can tell you, he pretty soon convinced them of his superiority; prophet, elder, ruler of the Synagogue–he was everything at once; expounded their books, commented on them, wrote books himself. They took him for a God, accepted his laws, and declared him their president. The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day,–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. “
    • Mara Bar-Serapion-What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their Kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good; He lived on in the teaching which He had given.
    • Jewish Talmud- Jesus was the bastard of Mary the hairdresser and a Roman soldier, Panthera, he was a magician from Egypt that instigated the Jews and was Crucified on the eve of passover.
  1. Alternative theories:
  1. Swoon Theory:

Davinci Code: – Jesus wasn’t really dead, then ran off with Mary Magdalene.

  • Crucifixion was brutal, let alone Jesus flogging.  Yet we are to believe in this condition, Jesus
  • rolled a massive stone away,
  • hid from or beat up a Roman guard,
  •     convinced his closest friends he had defeated death
  •     convinced them he was God.
    • Cicero quote: “Even the mere word, cross, must remain far not only from the lips of the citizens of Rome, but also from their thoughts, their eyes, their ears'”
  • “Roman law even laid the death penalty on any soldier who let a capital prisoner escape in any way, including bungling a crucifixion.  It was never done” (Peter Kreeft)
  1. Muslim theory:Muslims say it didn’t happen in the Quran.  Some say he went to India. Where is there historical evidence.  It is not needed because the Quran is true.
  2. Jewish Theory: The Talmud says Jesus was stoned and then
  1. Jesus never existed theory-  Ehrman quote:” With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) — sources that originated in Jesus’ native tongue Aramaic and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life (before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves). Historical sources like that are is pretty astounding for an ancient figure of any kind. Moreover, we have relatively extensive writings from one first-century author, Paul, who acquired his information within a couple of years of Jesus’ life and who actually knew, first hand, Jesus’ closest disciple Peter and his own brother James. If Jesus did not exist, you would think his brother would know it.”
  2. Jesus was a myth:  Erhman Quote: “Moreover, the claim that Jesus was simply made up falters on every ground. The alleged parallels between Jesus and the “pagan” savior-gods in most instances reside in the modern imagination: We do not have accounts of others who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and then were raised from the dead (despite what the sensationalists claim ad nauseum in their propagandized versions).”

If Jesus did die on a cross, let’s remind ourselves why.   He did it for you and me. – You and I have broken God’s laws and we deserve his punishment. – His punishment is death and eternal separation or Hell. – Jesus said he would fulfill our sentence.   He died, making it possible for us to be free!

Every Decision is a Spiritual Decision

We started of the year at Connection Point Church with a great series called, “Small Tweaks, Big Peaks”.  One of the major ideas from the series was this

“Every Decision Is A Spiritual Decision”

The tendency for most of us is to simply try to improve ourselves by changing our habits with sheer will power.  And it never works.  That is why this idea is so revolutionary.  The Apostle Paul conveyed this idea very clearly by describing the fight between the Spirit and the Flesh.   In my own life, I’ve seen God remove sinful habits or destructive patterns in the blink of an eye.  After all of the fighting and struggling when I’m finally out of options, I’ll begin asking God to fix the problem that I feel I should be able to overcome.  And in a moment, God lifts the struggle off me in a moment.

The bottom line is: Most of us struggle for years before we turn Jesus, why not start there.  Struggling to change habits ourselves never works.

You can watch the full sermon here:

https://vimeo.com/116017148