The Risen One Is the Lord

April 4, 2021 Preacher: Luis A. Cardenas Series: Acts

Topic: English Passage: Acts 2

Good morning, everyone. It’s good to be together as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The message of Jesus’ Resurrection has been going out for almost 2,000 years, and in that time, there have always been those who have accepted it for what it is and those who have rejected that it ever did, or ever could, take place.

In the secular world, life after death is a mystery. It’s outside the boundaries of what science is intended to measure or study. Scientifically, we can measure life up to the end, and we can study what happens to a body after death. But what happens to the soul at the moment of death is not something science can measure or explain.

Dr. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist from Cal Tech, here in Pasadena, and, among other things, he specializes in cosmology, which deals with the origin of the universe. Speaking on the topic of life after death, Dr. Carrol says that it simply isn’t possible.

He said, “Claims that some form of consciousness persists after our bodies die and decay into their constituent atoms face one huge, insuperable obstacle: the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there's no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to persist after we die.”

He also said, “If it’s really nothing but atoms and the known forces, there is clearly no way for the soul to survive death. Believing in life after death, to put it mildly, requires physics beyond the Standard Model.”

I agree with him. That’s the same message we get in the Bible from the book of Ecclesiastes. If all that exists is what can be measured by science, if we’re only living under the sun, if we are just another kind of animal on this planet, then this life is, ultimately, meaningless.

There’s no overarching plan in place. There is no God directing and upholding all that is. And you don’t need to be preoccupied with what happens after you die. Make all the scientific or philosophical advances you like, but in the end, you’re going to die anyway, and it won’t matter to you. Again, if all we have is what science can measure, then there’s nothing after this life.

On the other hand, if we recognize that there are some things that science will never be able to fully explain or understand, we can continue to search for answers.

One man who has a special interest in life after death is named Robert T. Bigelow. He is a 76-year-old billionaire who lost his wife. He founded the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies, and it’s putting on an essay contest for anyone submitting a paper studying the survival of human consciousness after death.

First place in the contest gets half a million dollars, and the runners-up also get a cash prize. The total awards add up to a million and a half.

When you’re a billionaire, a couple million may not seem like much, but that’s still a significant investment for trying to find out if there’s life after death.

In case you’re wondering, the deadline to submit a passed in February, and the results should be announced in November. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Along the same lines of life after death, recently a Russian scientist who is known as a “life extensionist” published a plan for bringing people back from the dead. The process is known as technological resurrection, and his team of scientists says it may be possible in the future.

Digital immortality, as they call it, could be possible using a structure known as a Dyson Sphere, which is a massive structure surrounding the Sun in order to absorb its energy and allow us to use it. In this case the energy would be necessary for the computing power. We can’t build a Dyson Sphere now, but maybe with the help of robots, it can be built in the future.

Commenting on the Russian scientist’s plan, one writer said, “As the author of two sci-fi novels, I’ll say that I’m impressed with his creativity. Still, I think I’ll stick with that carpenter from Nazareth.”

And that’s exactly what we want to do, isn’t it? The Lord of heaven and earth, the One who made everything that was ever created, whether visible or invisible, He has given us the truth about life and death. He taught it to His disciples, and it has been recorded in His word. So, as Christians, we give our attention to the Bible, the word of God.

Today, our focus is on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And to do that, we are going to be looking at what could be called the very first Easter sermon. It wasn’t preached on an Easter Sunday, but it was, in fact, the very first sermon ever preached by the New Testament church. You can find it in Acts chapter 2.

Acts is the fifth book of the New Testament, coming after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If you prefer, you can use the Table of Contents to find it more easily. Before we look at Acts 2, let me give you some of the background to what’s going on.

Jesus was arrested on a Thursday night. Then we went through a speedy mock trial, and he was crucified on Friday morning. By Friday afternoon, He was dead. His body was given to Joseph of Arimathea for burial.

Some of the women who had ministered to and with Jesus saw the tomb, and, after the Sabbath, went to visit on Sunday. They expected to find a large stone covering the tomb and a wrapped body inside. Instead, they found the stone rolled away, and an angel told them that Christ had risen. Then Jesus began to appear to the women and to His disciples.

After His Resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days teaching His disciples. And one of the instructions He gave them was that they needed to stay in Jerusalem until Jesus sent them the Holy Spirit. That is the Spirit of Christ that would live within them, empowering them to understand Christ’s teachings more deeply and to obey His instructions.

The disciples didn’t know it at the time, but Christ’s Spirit was going to come one week after Jesus went back into heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand. During that week, they chose a replacement for Judas, and they continued to wait.

This brings us to Acts chapter 2, and we’ll pick up the story in verse 1: When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. That would include the 12 Apostles and a total of about 120 followers of Jesus.

Pentecost was a Jewish feast that came 50 days after Passover. And it was a feast where every Jewish man over 20 was instructed and invited to be in Jerusalem to celebrate and to worship. And so, Jews would have come from all over the Roman Empire.

This group of Christ’s followers was meeting in someone’s home near the Temple in Jerusalem. And all of a sudden something happens.

Verse 2—And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

This was beyond some personal experience of worship. This was something tangible and visible because God was making a statement to and through the early church.

The way it’s written here, it doesn’t seem like there was actually any kind of wind, but there was the sound of mighty wind filling the house. There also wasn’t a literal fire, but something glowing in the shape of a tongue was being divided out to everyone there.

And that symbol of a glowing tongue would connect to what was going to happen next. These Jewish people began to speak in foreign languages that they didn’t know. What is happening?

Two things. First, God is drawing a crowd. And second, God is going to speak to them. What happened in that house surpasses any sermon introduction by far. This gets people’s attentions.

They rush over because of the loud sound that initially took place. And when they get there, they hear a crowd of people speaking in all kinds of languages. And more significant than that, they hear someone speaking in their own language. Look at verse 7.

And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

This wasn’t a miracle taking place in the air or in the people’s ears. This was a miracle taking place in the people’s tongues. They were speaking a human, foreign language that nobody expected them to speak. That’s why some people thought they were drunk. If you don’t understand a language being spoken, it sounds incoherent

And to highlight how extensive this event was, the Bible lists all the regions that the people had come from. Those were parts of the Roman Empire in Asia Minor and Northern Africa. And there were also parts of the Parthian Empire, which is modern day Iraq and Iran and part of Saudi Arabia. These first group of believers were speaking to people from all over the known world.

Why? What’s happening? God is marking a shift. This is a transition time for the people of God. Something new is happening through the Spirit of Christ, and God wants the entire world to know.

So, with that, Peter stands up and delivers a message to the Jewish people gathered there. And his opening words are a correction. “No one here is drunk!” Peter says. “It’s only 9 in the morning. This is something God has caused by His Spirit, and He’s going to do it again in the last days when His wrath comes upon the world.”

And with that brief correction from the prophet Joel, Peter gets to the heart of his message. This is our focus today. Acts chapter 2, verse 22. Look at it with me. Acts 2:22.

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—23this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Like I said, this is an Easter message. The focus of this message was Jesus. He should be the focus of every message.

Peter announces to the people three components of Jesus’ life. He talks about Jesus’ miracles. He talks about Jesus’ death. And He talks about Jesus’ Resurrection.

The miracles are what’s mentioned in verse 22. Jesus’ miracles prove He came from God. If you want to jot a phrase down to mediate on later, write “divine power.” Divine power—that’ what His miracles demonstrated.

Verse 22 was about his power. Verse 23 is about His death. Even though Jesus’ death was part of God’s eternal plan, Jesus’ death proves Israel rejected God. They rejected God.

Jesus came from God and the people rejected Him. If you want to write another phrase down, write “divine rejection.” Divine rejection. They turned Him over to the Romans and had Him crucified. They refused to accept Him for who He was and is.

As we know, though, that wasn’t the end. Jesus came back. And that’s verse 24—the Resurrection.

Jesus’ Resurrection proves He is Messiah and Lord. He is the Lord of heaven and earth. He is the Lord over all creation. He is the Lord over Satan and the demons and even death itself. If you want to write a third phrase down, we could call this “divine supremacy.” Divine supremacy. He is over all.

Again, the end of verse 24 says, “It was not possible for him to be held by death.” It was not possible. There is no way death could defeat the Messiah and Lord.

And in order to make this point, Peter takes the Jewish people to a very familiar portion of Scripture. He takes them to Psalm 16, a psalm of David. Don’t turn there right now; we’ll see it here in Acts 2:25.

For David says concerning him, “I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”

We have been looking at various psalms for the past two months. And as we’ve done that, we’ve seen that some psalms were written to apply to Israel as a whole or to its king. And by extension, we can make applications for us today in the church.

But we’ve also seen that some psalms, although they could have a direct connection to an Old Testament king, find their true fulfilment in Jesus Christ. And that’s what Peter is saying here about Psalm 16.

Just like God’s power and love was demonstrated to David, one day a Son of David would come who would fully experience God’s power and love. What that means is that what David wrote is not simply poetic hyperbole, or poetic exaggeration. This was prophetic. It could not have applied strictly, or only, to David. Someone else was in mind.

The end of verse 27 here says that the Holy One would not see corruption. That means that His body wouldn’t rot in the grave. So, look at what Peter says in verse 29.

Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

David is still dead. We’ve can go see his bones. His body has rotted. So, who was David talking about?

Verse 30—Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

David was writing prophetically about a future King who would rule forever. He was writing about God’s appointed Mediator, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. Psalm 16 wasn’t ultimately about David being spared death on one occasion; it’s about the Messiah having a complete victory over death. And that’s what the Resurrection of Jesus demonstrates. Jesus is David’s promised descendant who will rule forever over Israel and over the world.

He has been exalted to the right hand of God, and He is the One who sent the Holy Spirit to the church, just like He promised before His death.

Let’s continue reading at verse 32—This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

In other words, “This phenomenon you just witnessed isn’t from us. It’s from Jesus.” And then Peter emphasizes Jesus’ identity with one more psalm. This time he uses Psalm 110.

Not only is Jesus the Son of David, He is God in human flesh. That’s what it means to be Lord. The fullness of deity dwells in Him. Everything that it means to be God, Jesus is.

Verse 34—For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, 35until I make your enemies your footstool.’” 36Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

David referred to one of his descendants as “Lord.” For the Jews, that was ridiculous because the older generations were worthy of more honor than the younger generations. So, why does David refer to his descendant as “Lord.” It’s because Jesus was and is not an ordinary man. He is God in human flesh.

This is the true significance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Coming back from the dead wasn’t a myth; it wasn’t a fairy tale; it wasn’t some inspiring story meant to give you nice feelings. It was God’s affirmation that Jesus is Messiah and Lord. It was the mark of His divine supremacy over everything.

Peter’s point in his message, and our goal as we study it, is not simply to convince people that Jesus rose from the dead. That’s not enough. Some of the Pharisees believed Jesus rose from the dead. They had the evidence, and they did what they could to hide it. Satan and his demons know that Jesus rose from the dead. They understand Jesus’ true identity more than we do. But even that’s not enough.

The goal of the message of Jesus Christ is to call people to respond appropriately to who Jesus is and to what He has done. We want people to wake up to the truth that they have been rejecting and rebelling against the Messiah.

Unbelievers are blinded by sin. And even as Christians we feel the pull of the flesh drawing us away from what really matters. It’s a whole lot easier to be invested in the temporary things of this life than in the glory and supremacy of Jesus Christ.

But by God’s Spirit, we can respond correctly. He can open our spiritual eyes and ears, and He can awaken us to know the truth and to respond appropriately.

That’s exactly what happened that day with many of the Jews who heard the message.

Verse 37—Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

This is what God wants from you. This is what God’s wants for every single one of us—that we would repent and be baptized in Jesus Christ.

Baptism is the external, pubic affirmation that you are surrendering your life to Christ. It’s a visible picture that the old you is dead, and the new you has come to life. And we perform baptisms with the confidence that Christ has forgiven you and cleansed your soul from the penalty and power of sin.

So, based on that spiritual cleansing, we do a public cleansing. Baptism is public sign of unity with Christ and with His people. Baptism is something the church does to affirm its own.

The private part that you do, is repentance and faith. Every single person who recognizes that they have lived in rejection of a holy God, and who recognizes how ugly and horrible their sin is, and then calls out to Jesus for forgiveness, with a willingness to forsake everything this life has to offer, will be saved. That’s the promise of God, based on the glory of the Risen Christ.

But salvation will not take place where there is not faith in Christ and repentance from sin. When the people in the crowd asked, “What shall we do?” that was the result of God’s Spirit making them aware of their sinfulness. And then when Peter called them to repentance, he was saying you need to leave your old life behind in order to be joined to Jesus Christ.

By the grace of God, 3,000 people were added that day to the church. And by the grace of God, people have been being added ever since.

Are you a part of Christ’s church? Do you belong to Jesus? Has His sacrificial death and His glorious Resurrection been applied to you?

I’m not asking if you’re a member here. I’m not asking if you’ve been baptized or if you’ve made a profession of your faith. You can do all that and end up in hell.

I’m asking about your soul right now. Do you fear Christ? Do you love Christ? Do you live in response to Him more than in response to this world? Are you willing to forsake your sin and to fight it in obedience to Jesus? Have you recognized and submitted to Him as the Lord and the Messiah whose supremacy extends over all creation and over your very life?

Do that today. Don’t let what little time you have left slip past you. Surrender to Jesus, and then come tell someone about it, and we would love to continue guiding you and teaching you.

Maybe the Holy Spirit is working in your heart right now. You hear these words and you’re thinking, “I know what’s being said, but I’m not so sure I’m actually a Christian. I’m not so sure I have received the gift of the Holy Spirit of God. I’m not so sure my sins have been forgiven.”

If that’s you, then cry out to God in prayer. Ask Him to save you and to give you His Spirit.

 Today, the manifestation of the Spirit in your life is not some loud sound, and it’s not an ability to speak in other languages. The evidence of the Spirit in your life is a brokenness over your sin and a love for Jesus Christ, the Ruler of creation.

Have you gone to Him, broken over your sin? Have you experienced His grace and His mercy and compassion in your life?

For those of you who have experienced that and have made that commitment, you know that the gift of God includes, not just the Holy Spirit, but the gift of brothers and sisters in the faith. He makes you part of a community, a family, that encourages you and lovingly helps you honor Christ more.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that He was Messiah and Lord. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ also unites His people. It compels us to act in love for the good of one another. If you’re writing down some phrases, the last one would be “divine unity.” Divine unity. We are united by the glorious and gracious Risen Lord. And He will use us to minister to one another, and to those in our communities.

That’s how Acts chapter 2 ends, with a wonderful picture of God’s people united in love for Christ and love for one another as God continues to work for His glory. Let’s read it, and then we’ll close.

Acts 2:42-47—And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

May the Lord continue to add to the number of His people, here in Pico Rivera and in California, and all over the world. May more and more people come to the realization that the resurrected Jesus is Messiah and Lord, worthy of worship and worthy of our allegiance. Let’s pray.

More in Acts

January 10, 2016

Acts 28:16-31

March 29, 2015

Acts 8:4 - 25

March 22, 2015

Acts 7:1 - 8:3