Repentance requires a discernment of and submission to God’s incomparable power.
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Amazing Conversions Part 5
City of Lydda: Amazed by God’s Power
Pastor Mike Fabarez
I wonder if you have ever tried to make a cake or a casserole and ruin it because you left out a key ingredient. I just want to assure you I’ve never ruined a cake or a casserole by leaving out a key ingredient. Not a single time. I’ve never tried to make either of those things, but I have heard stories and people say, you know, they’ve ruined something they’re trying to make because one just ingredient, just one thing they’ve left now, just one. And it just ruined the whole thing.
That’s the point, right? If you want something to turn out, you better include all of the key ingredients. And sadly, there are a lot of Christians who leave out a key ingredient that is ruining lots of things. Matter of fact, there are people in this room whose testimony is ruined. I mean that by the fact that they think they have a testimony and they don’t, because what has been left out is a key ingredient. They embrace something but they didn’t embrace biblical Christianity because this key ingredient was gone. There are others of you who are real Christians, you’ve got a real testimony and God lives in your life, but for some reason, because of how you interface with non-Christians, the things that you say to them in hopes to have them be saved, it’s inert. It doesn’t work. It falls flat because you’ve left out a key ingredient. It had been there when you were saved but it’s not there when you’re communicating the gospel to people.
We need that key ingredient. The key ingredient I’m talking about is related to an attribute of God. It is an attribute of God. It’s an attribute of God, if you hear me say that you think, “Well, I’ve been well trained, I know evangelism, and I know you’re going to talk about things like holiness and justice.” And I’ll tell you, a lot of people do leave those out and they are essential. There’s no arguing that. But I’m not talking about either of those. I’m talking about another attribute of God that may not be explicitly said with its theological term, but it better be a part of what you’re presenting to non-Christians. It better be the thing that has been clearly and obviously embraced in your own life when you say you became a Christian. Because it is not there, I guarantee you it’s not real. It’s not the real thing.
We’ve been studying Amazing Conversions and we reach a passage, very short passage today in Acts Chapter 9 verses 32 through 35. And I guarantee you this ingredient was there front and center. There’s no missing it. So turn in your Bibles. I want to show you this key ingredient. I want to make sure that you don’t miss it. I hope it wasn’t missed in your supposed conversion, and I hope that it’s never absent in your discussions with others about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Take a look at this with me. It’s an amazing conversion that takes place in a town that many of you have been to, actually. If you’ve ever been to Israel with us, you have been there and you weren’t with your, you know, hat and sunglasses searching through ancient ruins there. You were just searching for your luggage there because you know it has Ben Gurion Airport, the airport there. They say it’s in Tel Aviv, but it’s really not in Tel Aviv. It’s about 11 miles from the Mediterranean coast. And it’s in the old town that is named here, it’s called Lydda in the New Testament. It’s in the Old Testament called Lod, L-O-D. If you look on a map today, just south of the Ben Gurion Airport, you’ll see that section, the name underneath it, same word, Lod. The modern Hebrew word is the ancient Hebrew word.
But in this inter-testamental period, during the Maccabean period between the Testaments, it was renamed in the Hellenization of that area, renamed Lydda. And Luke uses that as he describes this city and Peter’s encounter with the people there. Now he’s going to visit Christians and we don’t know how these Christians got there. We can assume that maybe some came back from the Feast of Pentecost when Peter had preached there initially, and they put their trust in Christ and they are populating a small segment of that city. Or it might be it’s certainly on the road that Philip was doing ministry on. Perhaps Philip won some people to Christ there as he met the Ethiopian eunuch down the road from here. And perhaps, we don’t know how they got there, but Peter’s going in and out of Jerusalem doing what we just saw Saul doing, going in and out, doing all kinds of ministry within the Old City and outside of the Old City of Jerusalem. But he’s going to go down to Lydda, about 20+ miles away and he’s going to minister to the saints. He’s going to meet the saints, but he’s going to do some evangelism while he’s there.
And certainly the evangelism that made them Christian, they call them saints, not canonized people you build statues of. That means anybody that is set apart in the body of Christ, they’ve been placed into Christ. They’re real Christians. They certainly had this key ingredient present. And when Peter now is going to win some people to Christ in Lydda now, they certainly are not going to miss this attribute of God. I want to show it to you. Let me read it for you in the English Standard Version, beginning in verse 32.
This is Acts Chapter 9 verse 32. Follow along. We’ll just study these four verses this morning real quickly. “Now as Peter went here and there among them all,” he’s in Jerusalem, “he came down to the saints who lived at Lydda,” there are Christians there, “and he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed.” So this isn’t a kid, right? So unlike the congenital birth defects we’ve seen elsewhere in the gospels and even in Acts Chapters 3 and 4, when we see the paralytic being healed there in Jerusalem, this guy’s been that way for eight years. So maybe he had some terrible injury, maybe fell off of something, maybe it was some onset of some paralysis due to some kind of neurologic issue. But he is now bedridden.
So he can’t get up. He can’t walk on his own. You can picture after eight years, the muscles in his legs are all atrophied. He got little sticks kind of hanging off his body. He can’t get around. He’s probably dependent on people’s welfare. They’re giving their charity, their alms. And they all knew of this guy, right? He’s known, he just lays around and probably asking for money from people. Paralyzed. “And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.'” But just that kind of the pattern of Christ in the gospels where he said, you know, to the paralytic, “take up your mat and walk and go,” right? You’re there. You can’t get around. It’s like the ancient equivalent of a wheelchair, so to speak. They carried him around on a cot, laid him down, bed. They would beg there throughout the day and it’s like, no make that all up. Now, you can do this all on your own and you’re healed.
I mean, that’s an instantaneous, miraculous healing. You can picture like calf muscles that weren’t even there. Right? There’s just barely nothing from the knees down. And all of a sudden now just the nice, plump, strong calf muscle, BAM! Instantly. “All the residents of Lydda and Sharon,” the surrounding regions there near the plains, toward the Mediterranean Sea, “they all saw him.” I mean, this was big news. Everyone was like witness to this. They get to see it. “And they turned to the Lord,” Greek word “Epistrepho.” It’s a synonym to the word repentance, “Metanoia,” they turn to the Lord, they stop living the life they were living and they join the rest of the saints in Lydda and they became Christians.
And it might be that all the residents means, you know, all without distinction, not all without exception. Or who knows, maybe we’ll get to the kingdom and find out every last person in town turned to Christ. Either way, this city was radically changed because they became Christians. You could look at it this way, verse 32, “Peter goes in and out among them at Jerusalem. He comes down to the saints at Lydda,” and then it says, bottom of verse 35, “They turned to the Lord.” Well, there’s a bunch in between there. What’s in between there? One thing, one thing. Peter goes, says a sentence and a guy is miraculously healed.
Top of verse 35, “They all saw it.” They thought, “Man, I think we ought to follow that person. We ought to turn to him. We ought to become Christians. We ought to submit ourselves to him.” Well, what was it? It was, here it comes, a demonstration of power. That’s what it was. In theology we call it omnipotence. Maybe the last time you shared the gospel, you didn’t use the word omnipotent, but you better have left that impression. You better make sure they understand you are not talking about, you know, a plumber you liked and left a positive Yelp review, right? Like, “Ahh, you should try him. He’s really good. He does a great job. And Jesus will kind of fix you up, kind of fixed me up. Be a good idea, you ought to try God.”
We heard that in our testimonies this morning, right? You don’t try God, you don’t try Christ-like, “He tried Buddha, you know, he tried Hinduism, you tried Mohammed, let’s try Christ. It would be good.” No, no, no. He is omnipotent. And here is Peter coming in town and going, BAM! And you know what they said. It’s not written there, but you can read between the lines. They went, “Whoa, wow. We need to turn to the Lord.” I mean, that’s huge. A demonstration of the power of Jesus Christ. That’s huge.
Now, before we can ever become communicators of it, you better discern it yourself. You better understand it. You better think about it. It ought to rise to the top of your thinking. So let’s put it this way. Here is this miracle verses 32 through 34. Let’s just recognize this. It is a demonstration of God’s power. Specifically, Jesus Christ heals you. This is a demonstration of Christ’s power. You and I need to start seeing that everywhere when we study the person and work of Christ. And we ought to start elevating that in our minds that when you pray, you think about Jesus, you pray in the name or the authority of Jesus, you ought to know how big that is, that Jesus is omnipotent.
So I’ll put it this way. Number one, you ought to “Discern the Power of God,” discern the power of God. By the way, when Peter did the same miracle in Jerusalem, they dragged him before the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of the Jewish people, and they said this: “By what power do you do this?” They asked, “You just did some remarkable thing. It’s a miracle. No one can deny it. Where’d you get that magic and what name did you use? What power did you use? Where did you get the power to do this?” And of course, he says the same thing and he’s going to beat him to the punch here so that they have no, you know, no reason to be confused. This is Jesus who does it. We believe that Jesus is all-powerful. We believe he is omnipotent.
Some complain, “So well if this is so important, you should have helped us memorize that when you’re trained us to do evangelism and you talk about, you know, holiness and justice and love.” Well, I did. Matter of fact, anyone who’s well-trained in evangelism ought to start where the Bible starts in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” If you’ve learned to do evangelism around here at least, you’ve learned we start with this: “God is creator,” God is creator. And you know what comes with that? Stuff you can’t do, right? He created everything. Here’s how it’s put in the Bible, “with a word of his power he spoke things into existence.”
Real quick, turn to John 1:1. John 1:1. I want us to see that when evangelism is done in the streets of Lydda, it’s about a Christ who is presented as all-powerful, all-powerful. He has all power. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” You ought to be like, WOW! Just like if you saw a man who seemed like half of his body was dead, so to speak, come to life and here out of nowhere come muscle fibers in his calves and thighs. You ought to say, “WOW! Something out of nothing by the word of someone’s power. That’s amazing. And you did that in what power?” The power of Jesus.
So that ought to be a clear place for us to start. There’s power in being the creator. Well, in the New Testament, here’s the picture of John now echoing that sentiment, that idea. And he makes it very clear. “You met Jesus. You’ve heard about Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of a carpenter. You need to know this. He is all powerful.” Matter of fact, the echo of Genesis 1:1 right here in John 1:1. So take a look at this with me real quick. Let this just reinvigorate your view of an omnipotent Christ. “In the beginning was the Word,” the expression of the power of God. He is God. That’s the whole point of this verse, right? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,” the second person of the God-head, “and the Word was God.” He kept calling himself the Son of God, the Son of God, Son of God.
So the Son, this God, this triune, he doesn’t exist as one person. He exists as one essence in three persons. And the Father is omnipotent and every Jew knew that. But then we need to understand, well what about the Son here? And the Son is presented as God himself, sharing all the attributes of divinity and he has all power. How much power? Well, verse 2. ‘He was in the beginning with God,” verse 3, “All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made.” Therefore, he’s the unmade maker. Right? Because he’s not made. Because anything that was made, he made everything.
So you’re telling me that just like we’re supposed to respect the power of the omnipotent God of the Old Testament, now we introduce you to Christ. I need to make sure you understand he is on perfect par with the Father. He kept saying that to us. Matter of fact in John Chapter 5, we’re not far from it, let’s just turn there as long as we’re getting around quickly in the Scriptures this morning, because I’m talking so fast. John Chapter 5. You can see that section, drop down to verse 19, do you see the heading there, the authority of the Son? I wish we had time for the whole passage, but let’s jump into the middle of verse 21, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life.” And there were a few examples of that in the Old Testament, just a handful. But we know that God, the omnipotent God who created the world when something is dead and lifeless, he can recreate, he can breathe life back into it.
He says, you know, just like the Father does that, “So also the Son gives light to whom he will.” What? No, no. “I got the same creative power that the Father has.” And by the way, just like if I’m the creator of life, as we often say in our evangelism, we start with God as creator, well therefore we’re accountable to him. Well, you are accountable to him, but not just the Father. The all-authoritative Son is the one who is going to do the judging, verse 22, “For the Father judges no one, but he’s given all judgment to the Son.” You’re like, “Wait a minute. The Old Testament says God is the judge of all the earth, over and over and over and over again it says that.” OK, well, now we’re really clear. Yeah, you’re talking about God, the triune God, but let’s be real clear.
The second person of the Godhead, this one you’re trying to introduce your friend to, the one you say you relate to and pray in his authority, in his name, that one is the one who has all authority to judge. The Father has said it, “Hey, Son, you’re going to judge the world.” That’s huge. So that no one misunderstands his authority and power, “That all may honor the Son,” that’s respecting authority, “but honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” You remark, “Really? The same?” Absolutely. Well, that’s called blasphemy unless you’re talking about God. The omnipotent God has put on flesh and dwelt among us.
That’s where it starts back in John 1, right? The one who gives life and light to all men. He was the light. “He came into the world, though the world was created by him, the world didn’t even recognize him.” But that’s the difference between non-Christians and Christians. We recognize him. We’re not saying, “Hey, this is a great prophet, a great teacher. He might keep your kids off drugs, might make your marriage better. You should be a Christian. Follow Christ.” No, no, no, no. This is the all-powerful, omnipotent God in human form. “Though he existed in the form of God he did not regard equality with God a thing to be,” hung on to, “grasped, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant.”
Some say, “So God, you’re telling me,” Colossians 2:9,” God is now in human form?” Yeah. All of deity dwells perfectly in bodily form in Christ. “For in him fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.” Here is Christ having all the power of heaven on earth. And you ought to honor him with the same kind of honor that an Old Testament Jewish person would honor the all omnipotent authority and almighty God who starts the Bible with “In the beginning, God created.” Yes, we worship Christ because he is God. We worship Jesus because he is God. I’m presenting my neighbor with Christ because I’m telling him you’re not just picking a plumber and I’m giving him a good review. This is the ultimate authority. And I need to discern that every time I think about Christ, every time I pray to Christ, every time I give any impression to anyone that I’ve got some information about Jesus, I need to make it clear he is omnipotent and you cannot in any way downplay that.
Matter of fact, he’s so omnipotent that he’s on par with the Father. Just like the Father gives life, he gives life. Just like the Father is the judge. No, he is the specific judge. And not only that, you ought to honor him just like you would honor the Father. The word of God. Just like when they asked Jesus, “Are you the Christ, are you the Christ?” He said, you’re going to “see the Son of Man,” that’s what he called himself, “at the right hand of the power on high.” “I am the power of God. I’m the right hand. I’m the extension of the power of God. I am God, the Father and me, everything you would attribute to the Father you can attribute to me.” That’s huge. You understand that no other religion is making that claim except for some crazy person who lives in the desert somewhere. You know, this is huge. I’m telling my neighbor you ought to be a follower of Christ. Christ has all authority.
OK, well, it says in our passage that they saw that power demonstrated. OK, I would like to have that power demonstrated that maybe I could do a miracle like Peter then everyone would go, “Wow. I should turn to the Lord too.” Well, you should let everyone see the power of God. And I want you to write this down, because that’s the goal. Number two, “Point Others to the Power of God.” And you’re going, “Well great. When do I get my magic wand to do the magic so everyone can say, ‘Look at the power of God?'”
First of all, let me just have you think through this. Miracles, though everyone thinks they’re on every page of the Bible, are very rare. They only happen in three major clusters throughout biblical history. Right? They started with Moses and Joshua, that period of time. Very short, little rash of them there. Elijah and Elisha, rash of them there. Jesus and the apostles, a big rash of them there. Everything else is working according to the way God set up the world. Because if I said to you, “Yep, here you go, everyone, we’re going to pass out the magic wands now. Every time you share the gospel, go and do a demonstration of God’s power by suspending natural law and showing the power that God has power and sovereignty over all of nature.”
So you go and if there’s someone who is sick or someone who has, you know, that’s paralyzed or someone with a congenital birth defect, you just go wave your magic wand, say, “In Jesus name,” and they’ll all be healed. I just want you to think about if every Christian in every evangelistic encounter, in every city, in every state, in every generation, all around the world, continues to just break natural law, to keep showing every person who wants to know who is this Jesus. And we all just keep doing what Peter did, walk into a town and heal all the sick people, I just wonder what kind of world would we live in?
You do understand that even Jesus walked through villages and walked right by a lot of sick people. You know, I can’t be the only person with a problem in Lydda physically. Right? This was a very selective healing and it was done as a unique break in natural law so that people can say, “Wow, this name of Jesus, he is powerful.” If miracles were the norm because every Christian in every place, in every neighborhood, in every conversation is showing the power of God, I just want to let you know, a miracle by definition is an exception to the rules that God has set up. And I’d say if the norm now is to break those rules, what would we have? I just want you to think it through. Chaos.
“So you’re telling me to show the power? Well, maybe it’s just the pastor, so maybe you can bring me to church and you could heal a few people.” By the way, I should step out of the sermon for just a second to say all the shysters and conmen who keep telling you that’s what they’re doing, they are not doing it. “Well, yeah, but I know somebody in the mission field.” OK, I’m talking about the shysters on TV that are standing up and telling you that they’re having people’s legs grow longer. I just you need to get that completely out of your mind as anything that we should ever go, “Well, they’re doing it in the name of Christ.” They do a lot of things in the name of Christ. It’s absolutely charlatan conmen doing nothing but padding their pockets. You just need to understand that. We have nothing to do with that. We have no interest in that.
And we’re ready to call them out as frauds because they are frauds, because I had to have the number one rated miracle-working show on TV, and I don’t share this story often, his brother-in-law gets in this horrible accident. He’s in a coma. He’s up at St. Joe’s. Off the street I get pulled into this. I start ministering to him, our pastoral staff does. The guy’s racked up for over a month. I forget the exact time. And guess who didn’t show up? His brother-in-law who’s on TV every day telling everyone to get their miracle as long as they’ll send him a few hundred bucks. Not a single time. Not until he died and I was doing his funeral did that charlatan walk in and sit right here on the aisle on this side. And I sat there trying to preach a message that was comforting when I wanted to get off the stage, go over there and slap in the face. Because he’s a conman.
Your family is there and your brother-in-law is dying, suffering. Your mother, who I got to know really well in the hospital room, is weeping over this man. And you didn’t have time to show up because you’re too busy flying around in your private jet, getting everybody’s money for the fake miracles you’re trying to do on TV. I hate it and you ought to hate it, too. Because that is not what God set up as normative. If it were normative, we would live in a world filled with miracles which would be the norm. Right? It doesn’t work.
So what did God do to somehow parallel the paradigm in this passage? Which is I’m going to come to town, talk about Christ, you need to see the power of God and turn to the Lord. “How do I do that?” I’m glad you asked. Here’s what the Bible says. Let me turn you… Let me give you an example from Acts 14 real quick. Acts Chapter 14, Paul and Barnabas, they’re being hailed as gods and they say, “Stop.” Look at verse 15 of Acts Chapter 14. As Paul tries to correct this thinking, he says, “Look, don’t try to sacrifice to us, don’t bow down to us, don’t venerate us.” “We are also men of like nature with you.” We’re not gods. “We bring you good news that you should turn from these vain things that you do,” like bowing down to people, “to a living God.” Now, here’s the first thing, “Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
I hope you see when Job, as we were reading through our Daily Bible Reading this year, we just recently got done with Job, and he’s calling God on the carpet and he starts to get really too big for his britches in the book and God shows up in Chapter 38. What does he start doing chapter after chapter after chapter? “Let’s just look at the world I made for just a second.” He pummels Job by saying, consider the world, consider the earth, consider the animals, consider how this thing works. Did you do any of that? “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the world?” Where were you? I mean, you’re calling me and putting me in the dock, as C.S. Lewis used to say, you’re putting me on trial. Let’s talk about creation.
Here’s one thing. When you fall off a ladder and become paralyzed, you can’t even fix the bottom half of your body. You can’t do anything about it. We’re running to our doctors thinking they know everything. And I know a lot of doctors, physicians in our church, they’re good people, but they don’t know everything. I mean, half the time we don’t even know why the medicines work the way they do. Yeah, they went to medical school. I mean, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” We’re doing the best we can to poke our way through the world. And when it comes down to it, this world is created and it’s on a par with a kind of design that is just other-worldly.
So the first thing I want to do to show the power of God, as Romans Chapter 1 says, is I want to see that the world is speaking to us just by the very nature of being here, that there is a world. Right? There is the heaven, and there is earth and there is a sea and all the teeming life in it. It is all a testament to God’s power. Some reply, “Well, I know how the world got here, I read Wikipedia.” Great, go to the Wikipedia page and try and figure out this whole Big Bang thing real quick. Just figure that out. Read about it, figure out how all the laws of physics in nature, microbiology, all that came to be in this infinitesimal, tiny little speck of nothing. And then all of a sudden we had this explosion and then all the laws of nature started it. Go ahead. Now, it still leaves us with this. I don’t get it. How, when, where, who, what? Right? We all have to say, “Well, just whatever, somehow.” But that’s all we’re going to say because of the redshifts of radiation in the universe. “Well, that’s just how it is.” OK, great.
It doesn’t solve the problem, as philosophers have been saying. And we’re not smarter just because we carry on iPhones in our pocket and watch YouTube. Here’s the thing. They thought deeply about the fact that there is something here rather than there being nothing here. You got a problem because we walk around and can look in a mirror and say, “Here’s a person.” We go out and see mountains and we see oceans and we see the sun, this big ball of fusion up in the air and we say, “Wow, there’s something. Where did it come from?” As Hebrews 3 says, “Every house has a builder. The builder of all things is God.” You have to at least go back even to the secular philosophers who have been saying for millennia, there must be an unmoved mover, there must be an uncaused cause, who caused all of this. And I don’t care what you think about astrophysicists, I don’t care what you think about microbiology, I don’t care what you think about the origins of the universe. You got to get back to the place where you say here is something that God is saying loud and clear, “I’m powerful because there’s something.”
And that something once you start looking at it in detail, which Paul goes into next… drop down to verse 17. “He didn’t leave himself without a witness,” even though he didn’t immediately punish people, which is verse 16. Verse 17 says, “He left a witness.” What witness did he leave? This world is amazing. “He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your heart with food and gladness.” Here’s something the world knows. Sometimes the environmentalists know it better than Christians know it and that is this: that we have a living world, a living world. Just like your body right now is living.
I had a friend die this week. It was really hard. Think about the reality, the fact that the body might be right there, but his spirit is not there. He’s not alive. We have a hard time. Even the four horsemen of the atheists today who go around talking about… they struggle with this: consciousness with life. The difference between a dead frog and a living frog, we have a hard time figuring out that principle of life, that life force, that thing that John 1 says is the “light of life.” Where did it come from? What is it? All the cells are there, right? Biologically we have the same thing but something happens and we have a non-living body. And so it is with the world.
The world is living, right? You can germinate seeds in the ground. They grow up to be apple trees. We eat the apples. I mean, here is a living planet that the Bible says, according to Psalm 19, is constantly displaying the power of God and we need to turn people to it. In other words, it’s not the exception to the rules of nature that we need to point out, because now suddenly everybody’s doing it in every evangelistic encounter, every mission field in the world. That’s not what we’re doing.
We’re pointing out the rules that do exist and that God keeps. The rains come, the seasons come, the axis of the earth, the elliptical orbit, the fact that we’ve got a moon that is 400 times smaller than the sun and the sun happens to be 400 times further away, which means they appear to be same disc size on the planet. There are all kinds of simple things like that. You can say these demonstrate the glory and power of God. His divine attributes are on display. And the Bible says that over and over again, point people to the planet, look at the earth, look at how it functions, look at what it looks like, look at how it has been presented to be perfectly suited to provide us with life.
And that is an intentional thing, a design thing. And even the whole ID movement, the Intelligent Design movement, at least of getting to the place of saying, “Well, I get this. There’s got to be something in the irreducible complexity of life that I’m saying there is someone out there who’s not just this uncaused cause and this unmoved mover. This is actually someone with an intelligent design. And the Bible says this is not just the God who created, but “He upholds all things by the word of his power.” Here’s Hebrews Chapter 1, that “Christ, the Son, is the exact representation of the nature of God, and he upholds all things by the word of his power.” Matter of fact, the word translated in the English Standard Version is the universe. “He upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
Colossians 1, The Scripture itself says of Christ, “everything in him consists and holds together in Christ,” whether it’s Heisenberg trying to look at the atomic action within the nucleus of an atom saying, well, there’s something going on here that is the life force of this entire universe. God is at work. And that’s a power that unfortunately, just because you read a chemistry book in high school, doesn’t mean we’ve really thought through and put on display the fact that God’s power is demonstrated every day, in every place, all over the world just by looking at creation.
Well, if that’s not good enough here’s something else. Jot it down. No time to look at it. Second Peter Chapter 3 says, you know one of the big powerful things you want to show God’s power besides God himself being called powerful, there’s something else he calls powerful, and that is his Word. And his Word is punctuated by something that is so powerful and that is predictive prophecy. Second Peter Chapter 3 says, “Don’t forget the predictions of the prophets,” as powerful.
If we went back five years ago and I came to your house and I sat down and I spent an hour telling you everything that was going to happen in the next five years. Not every little thing, every burrito you’d eat or every taco you’d eat, but I just started talking about stuff that would happen, things that you didn’t think, that you thought were so implausible. Like I looked forward and I said to you, “Hey, by the way, even in 2020, you’re going to be going to Ralph’s grocery store with a mask on your face.” You’d go, “What? No.” And everyone’s going to be wearing them. You’d be like, “Oh, I don’t believe that.”
And if I said all those things five years ago and they all came true, including when you got a promotion and who in your family had a baby and that you got a cracked windshield when a rock got picked up on the freeway and hit your windshield and that you got it fixed at this particular place. And I gave you all that information. And for five years I prophesied all these things. I bet you’d say powerful. You’d say, wow.
OK, now I’m not going to come into your neighborhood and do a miracle or you’re not going to do a miracle to prove to your neighbors that Christ is powerful. But you got a book in your hand that’s “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” And here’s the reason, according to Second Peter Chapter 3, because it is punctuated by predictive prophecies and the prophecies are not done yet. If I said, “Oh, go back to that meeting we had five years ago when I told you all the things that are going to happen in the last five years. But then I said, “Oh, and I chapter two I also gave you, but I didn’t want you to open it until now. Open it up now. That’s the next five years of things. And here are the things that are going to happen in the next five years.”
If I was batting a thousand in the last five years and I said, “Hey, you need to realize this, there are going to be things like, I don’t know, 2024 California is going to have a huge earthquake and fall into the ocean.” I’ll bet in 2023 you’d be looking to sell your house. Right? You’d be like, “I should move, at least to Arizona. I want beachfront property in Yuma.” So you do something like that, you’d say, “I’m going to go there because I believe that the power of this person, which I would say I’m just the prophet, just the mouthpiece, the power of the person giving the information through that prophet must be powerful.”
I want to show others the power of God. I point them to creation, I point them to the way creation works, I point them to the Bible. Which, by the way, when it says it’s “living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword,” the next verse says and you know what? It lays bare our hearts as we read it. And really everything is laid bare before God. He sees everything. The one with him we have to do. “The one with whom we’re going to have to give an account.” And the point is, this is preparing your friends for what’s coming. We’ve got a book that has power. Show them the Bible as opposed to a chaotic universe and world where every Christian is doing a magic trick for people.
The magic tricks have been done, right? There has been power of an invasion of God’s working on the planet in about 100 or less than 100 cases throughout biblical history where he says God is at work here. Now he’s saying show them the power I left. The power of creation. The power of the fact that there’s something rather than nothing, that that something is incredibly designed, and that he gave you a book that’s incredibly designed because I wrote it through people. That’s huge. And some of us don’t even read it. I’ve heard testimony this weekend about, “Yeah, I went to church, didn’t expect to study the Bible. I came to this church. They made me study the Bible. I’ve just never thought about that going to church.” Study the Bible. Go get a Bible and walk your neighbors through it and show them the power of the Scriptures.
Bottom of verse 35 in our passage. What happens? Well, after seeing it, “they turned to the Lord.” That’s pretty good. That’s what we want. Matter of fact, I want to think that in my past, I turned to the Lord. I don’t think you turned to the Lord unless you recognize the omnipotence of God. And once you did, if you really did and you’re a Christian today, then I’m going to say this: number three, let’s put it this way, you need to “Pray for All to Submit to God’s Power.” That’s another way to put “turning to the Lord.” That’s another way to put turning to the Lord is to say, “I’m submitting to God’s power.” That’s how Jesus put it, Luke Chapter 14, he said it’s like some army, some king coming against you with 20,000 men and you got 10,000 men. So you’ve got to concede that he’s more powerful than you. And that really is what Christianity feels like. We heard it in the testimonies this morning. It feels like this, “I have to submit to your power. You are more powerful.”
I met Todd Gates when I was 10 years old at the park. We had a big park league as Flag Football League and I thought I was a hotshot. I came on there, had these 15 ragtag guys with flags hanging off their waist. And I said, “You know, I’m going to be in charge of this thing. I’m going to be the quarterback. I’m going to be in charge.” So that’s what I’m hoping for. The coach said, “Well, wait a minute,” Todd steps up. “Let me show you what I got.” Well, I didn’t want Todd to be the quarterback. I want to be the quarterback. Todd to run faster, throw farther, kick farther. I mean, so OK. Coach said, I want Todd, you’re going to be the quarterback. So as a 10-year-old, I was obviously heartbroken, right? My life was over. Todd had to be quarterback.
Now if I said, “I don’t recognize your authority or your power. I don’t think you’re any better than me. I’m going to go to every huddle and I’m going to say, ‘I’m going to give the play.’ Matter of fact, every time we start a play, I’m going to go and kick you out of the way and try and get behind the snapper, the center and I’m going to take the ball.” It’s not going to work. I have to realize Todd’s the quarterback. I finally realized it when I’m about the fifth row up in the stands with my trombone and he’s the high school quarterback. That’s when I realized I think the coach was right. Todd, he did, he became an all-star football player, quarterback. I was really good on the trombone. (audience laughs).
But let me tell you this, here’s the thing, we have to recognize this. Your conversion to Christ has to be I’m submitting to the power of God. I recognize that. Because God looks all throughout the Bible and says there are a lot of people who are religious doing the religious thing. But because they don’t see my authority and submit to it, they don’t have the real God in their mind.
Do you want a better picture of that? Read the last book of the New Testament, the book of Revelation. If you want a good picture of that? Then read that. And then when you’re done with that, go back to the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, and start reading that one. And you know what you’ll find? You’ll find the problem of people not understanding the power that is demonstrated in Revelation, the book of Revelation, where God reveals his Son and his power. In the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, it’s when they were trying to go about business as usual and they didn’t recognize it. God lays into them.
He says in Chapter 1, “Hey, if I’m a father, where’s my honor? If I’m a master, where’s my respect?” You guys are doing your thing. You act like you’re my people, but you have no understanding or reflection or concept of my power. He says, “My name will be great among the nations.” Get out of the way. “Oh that someone would come and shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on my altar.” I just wish you’d stop singing songs to me because you don’t recognize my omnipotence.
A missing ingredient? Some of you sit here, you think you’re Christian, you’re not Christian because you’ve never really grappled with the omnipotence of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Some of you are sharing the gospel and you’re sharing it like you’re trying to give someone, you know, a reference to some auto mechanic. You are presenting people with the King of kings and Lord of lords. I need you to understand his omnipotence. That is the ingredient that is key. Holiness, justice, love, all those are key as well. This one though is foundational. It’s where the Bible starts, it’s where we need to start in our thinking to elevate our view of God.
It’s one of our values around here to maintain a high view of God, never stop keeping God in his rightful place and the Lord Jesus Christ in his rightful place. The Spirit’s role in your life is to try and do that, to elevate the view of Christ. So, as the Bible says, “he’ll have the name above every name” which the Father has already endowed him with. “So that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, every tongue will confess.” I’m praying for that for your neighborhood, your coworkers, your friends. Let’s see more people come to faith in Christ by submitting to his authority.
Let’s pray. God, thanks for this morning, the chance that we have just to ponder for a few minutes here, the greatness of your Son, who will, according to the book of Revelation, take his great power and begin to reign one day. Right now, we’re looking at a book that records his power. We see in the age of the apostles the expression of that power in unique ways. It was going to be unique because that’s what miracles are. Even in the second century, God, you convinced your church, they wrote about it, that the age of the miracles of breaking natural law was over and we understand that.
And so we say, God, that we know that you are at work in the most powerful ways that are just there working within the laws of nature, the miracle of this reality that we live in and most importantly, the dynamic nature of this book we call the Bible, that reminds us from beginning to end that you see everything, that you decree everything, that you call forth people and nations and purposes and do everything according to your will and you reveal it to us through your prophets. We’re grateful for that powerful book. Let us get in it more this week. Let us share it more clearly. Let us be unabashed about the power and authority of Jesus Christ.
In whose name we pray. Amen.