Christ, CRUCIFIED, Risen and Coming Again Sermon by Pastor David A. Reed at Immanuel Baptist Church July 23, 2017

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Immanuel Baptist Church describes itself as

"a church preaching Christ, crucified, risen and coming again"

So, today's sermon is the second in a 4-part series

on what that means-what it means to be

"a church preaching Christ, crucified, risen and coming again."

 

Today I'll focus on what it means to preach "Christ crucified"

and in the next couple weeks, "Christ risen"

and "Christ coming again."

 

In brief, preaching "Christ crucified" means

preaching that Christ died for our sins.

 

And that God loves us so much,

that He sent His only begotten Son,

to die for us-

that Jesus loves us so much

that He died a horrible death,

and took our sins upon Himself,

to give us eternal life.

As Isaiah 53:5 says,

"He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed."

 

This is the Gospel that Paul and the other Apostles preached.

 

At 1 Corinthians 15, beginning with the first verse,

Paul wrote:

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you

the gospel which I preached to you,

which also you received and in which you stand,

2 by which also you are saved ..."

 

And then he continued,

3 For I delivered to you first of all

that which I also received:

that Christ died for our sins

according to the Scriptures,

4 and that He was buried,

and that He rose again the third day

according to the Scriptures,"

 

This is the Gospel that Paul and the other Apostles preached.

 

But there were others back then in the First Century

who were preaching a different gospel,

and there are others today who preach a different gospel.

 

As we mentioned last week,

at Galatians 1:6-9 Paul had warned

the Galatian church to watch out for

"a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ."

 

So, when Paul went to preach in Corinth, Greece,

he adopted a plan of approach.

At 1 Corinthians 2:2 Paul tells us what that plan was:

It says:

"I determined not to know anything among you

except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

 

Paul forced himself to stick to that basic Gospel message,

even though he knew that many of his listeners

would not be happy with it.

As he said at 1 Corinthians 1:18,

 

" the message of the cross

is foolishness to those who are perishing"

 

 

The Jews were expecting a Messiah like earlier messiahs:

a king who would expel the Roman occupation.

They didn't understand that the Messiah would be crucified-

even though that was in the prophecies.

It was a stumbling block to them.

 

They viewed Jesus as cursed because He was on the cross.

As Galatians 3:13 says,

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law,

having become a curse for us,

for it is written,

'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,'"

 

The Jews didn't expect a crucified Messiah.

They didn't want a crucified Messiah.

At Galatians 5:11 Paul spoke of

"the offense of the cross."

They found the cross offensive.

 

But Jesus IS the Messiah the Jews expected.

The cross isn't the end of the story.

Jesus rose from the dead,

and He is coming again as a conquering King.

As Isaiah 9:6-7 says,

Isaiah 9:6-7

"For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7

Of the increase of His government and peace

There will be no end,

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,"

 

The prophecy at Daniel chapter 7:13-14 says,

"I was watching in the night visions,

And behold, One like the Son of Man,

Coming with the clouds of heaven!

He came to the Ancient of Days,

And they brought Him near before Him.

14

Then to Him was given dominion and glory

and a kingdom,

That all peoples, nations, and languages

should serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion,

Which shall not pass away,

And His kingdom the one

Which shall not be destroyed.

 

Jesus identified Himself to the Jews as that "Son of man,"

but they didn't believe Him.

 

And, as we saw a few weeks ago,

in a sermon titled "Jesus in the Old Testament,"

the prophecies at Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53

tell how the promised Messiah

would die for us.

 

But the Jews who wanted a conquering Messiah

would not accept a crucified Messiah.

 

Still, Paul faithfully preached "Christ crucified."

 

And he turned to the non-Jews, the Gentiles:

At Acts 13:46 Paul told a Jewish audience:

 

"It was necessary that the word of God

should be spoken to you first;

but since you reject it,

and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

 

But the Gentiles, too, had a problem.

They were from a Greek culture that valued intellectualism.

 

So, Paul wrote what we just read in our responsive reading

at 1 Corinthians chapter 1 beginning at verse 17,

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize,

but to preach the gospel,

not with wisdom of words,

lest the cross of Christ

should be made of no effect.

 

So, Paul was not going to make a display

of his wisdom as a speaker,

a skilled public speaker,

a highly-educated man,

but instead he was going to let the message about the cross

reach the hearts

of receptive listeners.

He went on to say in verse 18,

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness

to those who are perishing,

but to us who are being saved

it is the power of God.

 

And then Paul explained

that the church would not be full of educated intellectuals.

 

It would be as Jesus said at Matthew 11:25,

"At that time Jesus declared,

"I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things

from the wise and learned,

and revealed them to little children."

 

Paul went on to elaborate, beginning with 1 Corinthians 1:19,

19 For it is written:

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

And bring to nothing

the understanding of the prudent."

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe?

Where is the disputer of this age?

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God,

the world through wisdom did not know God,

it pleased God

through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

22 For Jews request a sign,

and Greeks seek after wisdom;

23 but we preach Christ crucified,

to the Jews a stumbling block

and to the Greeks foolishness,

24 but to those who are called,

both Jews and Greeks,

Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

25 Because the foolishness of God

is wiser than men,

and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For you see your calling, brethren,

that not many wise according to the flesh,

not many mighty, not many noble, are called.

27 But God has chosen

the foolish things of the world

to put to shame the wise,

and God has chosen the weak things of the world

to put to shame the things which are mighty;"

 

 

We don't see the church full of Harvard graduates,

and professors,

and highly-educated people, do we?

The message of the cross is foolishness to them.

 

The Apostle Paul himself was highly-educated,

but he avoided

making a display of that education.

 

Instead, he wrote at 1 Corinthians chapter 2,

beginning with the first verse:

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you,

did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.

2 For I determined not to know anything among you

except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

 

Continuing in verse 4, he said,

"my speech and my preaching

were not with persuasive words of human wisdom,

but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men

but in the power of God.

 

But the unbelieving Greeks in Paul's audience

wanted to boast of their education.

And the Jews wanted to boast

of their Jewish lineage, their Jewish nationality.

 

Even INSIDE the Christian churches

there were Judaizers who wanted to keep people

under the Law of Moses

with all its circumcision, Kosher diet, and so on.

 

These Judaizers in the churches

boasted over their being Jews.

They wanted to boast about

converting Gentiles to Judaism.

 

But Paul said at Galatians 6:14,

"God forbid that I should boast

except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,

by whom the world has been crucified to me,

and I to the world."

 

The Judaizers made salvation dependent on keeping the Law.

And that would have made Christ's death on the cross

of no effect.

 

But Hebrews chapter 10 says,

1 For the law,

having a shadow of the good things to come,

and not the very image of the things,

can never with these same sacrifices,

which they offer continually year by year,

make those who approach perfect.

2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered?

For the worshipers, once purified,

would have had no more consciousness of sins.

3 But in those sacrifices

there is a reminder of sins every year.

4 For it is not possible

that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

 

That letter to the Hebrews

explains that the animal sacrifices

under the Law of Moses

passed away

and were replaced by Christ,

"the lamb of God,"

and His sacrificial death on the cross.

 

It goes on to say at Hebrews 10:10,

"we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

And verse 14:

14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

 

Paul defied the Judaizers

by preaching Christ crucified.

And he ignored the Greek intellectuals

by preaching Christ crucified.

 

And, so, what about us today?

 

How does preaching Christ crucified

set Immanuel Baptist Church apart from others?

 

Well, there are some who talk about Christ,

but who actually deny that He was crucified.

 

Last week we quoted the former president of Iran,

who is a devout Muslim,

and who mentioned in a speech to the United Nations

that he believes Jesus is coming again

but only as a servant of the Islamic Mahdi.

The Islamic holy book, the Koran,

talks a lot about Jesus,

and it specifically mentions His crucifixion,

but it DENIES that the crucifixion took place.

In chapter 4 of the Koran, verses 157-158 it says, and I quote:

"That they said (in boast),

'We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary,

the Messenger of Allah'

-but they killed him not,

nor crucified him,

but so it was made to appear to them,

and those who differ therein are full of doubts,

with no (certain) knowledge,

but only conjecture to follow,

for of a surety they killed him not

-nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself."

 

So, the Koran says concerning Jesus

that "they killed him not, nor crucified him,

but so it was made to appear."

 

Muslims believe

Christ was NOT crucified.

They argue that Allah would never have dishonored

His prophet Jesus

by allowing Him to undergo such a death.

Muslims believe that Jesus was miraculously caught up into heaven

while someone else

took His place on the cross-

maybe Judas Iscariot.

So Islam preaches "a different Jesus,"

a "Jesus" who was just a prophet of God,

not the Son of God,

and a "Jesus" who was not crucified.

They don't preach Christ crucified.

 

Another group that talks a lot about Jesus,

but doesn't preach Christ crucified,

is the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Their Watchtower magazines and books

originally DID feature illustrations

of Jesus on the cross,

back in the 1800s and early 1900s.

But then they changed their teaching,

to deny that Jesus died on a cross.

And instead they claim He was nailed

to a straight vertical pole

without a cross-piece.

Their illustrations show Jesus nailed

with His hands above His head,

and a single nail

that passes through both hands.

But John 20:25 proves that false,

because John 20:25 says there were "nails"

in the plural, through Jesus' hands-

not a single nail

but nails, one for each hand,

pinning them to the opposite ends

of the cross-piece.

 

Of course, we aren't surprised

that groups like the Muslims and the Jehovah's Witnesses

fail to preach Christ crucified.

 

But there are also others,

like the Judaizers and the Greek intellectuals

Paul encountered in the First Century.

 

There aren't too many Judaizers still around

in churches that call themselves Christian.

But there are some.

There are some groups

that try to put members back under the Law of Moses.

They require them to observe the Jewish holidays,

and perhaps even keep a special diet.

 

And there are some other legalistic churches

that require men to wear white shirts and ties

and women to wear dresses instead of pant suits-

as if there were some righteousness

derived from following those rules & regulations.

That's like the Judaizers of Paul's day,

in adding our own works to Christ's work on the cross,

as if our own works were necessary, too,

in order to be truly saved.

But we preach Christ crucified-

the full and sufficient sacrifice for our sins.

 

Our modern world

is very much like the Greek culture Paul preached to.

They see themselves as intellectually superior

to people who believe the simple salvation message

found in the Bible.

 

A football player may write John 3:16 on his face,

and a sportscaster may actually quote the passage:

16 For God so loved the world

that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whoever believes in Him

should not perish

but have everlasting life.

 

But, like the First Century Greek culture Paul preached to,

this world today views that as foolishness.

 

Is there really a God?-they say.

They say everything around us came into existence

millions of years ago,

through some cosmic Big Bang.

They say life developed spontaneously

in ancient oceans

millions of years ago,

through a series of chemical accidents.

They say we today

are descended from some ape-like ancestors,

who evolved from fish,

that accidentally crawled out of the sea,

and managed to survive.

They say belief in a Creator is nonsense, foolishness.

 

We still preach Christ crucified,

but, like the intellectual Greeks Paul preached to,

our world today views our message as foolishness.

 

Still, we persist.

 

But there are preachers today

who have become like the Greek intellectuals

 

They say we are not sinners-

we are fine, just the way we are-

so why would we need a crucified Savior?

 

They still preach about Jesus,

but they view him as just a good teacher,

a social activist,

a community organizer,

who had some good ideas.

 

In their teaching,

burning fossil fuels might be a sin,

but sex outside of marriage isn't a sin any more-

everybody's doing it,

so it must be OK.

If you see yourself as a sinner,

you just need more self esteem,

not a Savior who died on cross

to take away your sins.

That's how the intellectuals think today.

And many churches

have taken up that sort of thinking.

They no longer talk about sin

and our need for a Savior.

 

Instead, for them Christianity

is just a self-improvement program.

For them, Church should be entertaining

and should make you feel better about yourself.

 

But, as we read in our responsive reading,

"the message of the cross is foolishness

to those who are perishing,

but to us who are being saved

it is the power of God."

 

As I said last week,

at Luke 18:8 Jesus asked a rhetorical question:

"when the Son of Man comes,

will He find faith on earth?"

And the answer from Immanuel Baptist Church is YES.

 

Even though many other churches have stopped

preaching Christ crucified,

Immanuel Baptist Church has kept the faith

for over 100 years.

 

The church is to be commended for that.

Its pastors and its leadership over the years

have persisted in preaching Christ crucified,

just as the Apostle Paul did.

And if our Lord returns tomorrow,

He will find Immanuel Baptist Church

still preaching Christ,

crucified, risen and coming again.