Tuesday, July 22, 2014

By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
      Jesus of Nazareth made some of the most amazing statements and outstanding promises ever uttered by anyone! Why should we believe Him? Who was Jesus of Nazareth and what credentials does He have? Since He was born nearly 2,000 years ago, how do we know that He is still alive? What proof exists to confirm His impressive claims of having come from Heaven to do His Father's will? Can we trust the Holy Bible? Can we trust His Words?
       After nearly 2,000 years, WE DO HAVE an enormous wealth of solid historical, biblical and spiritual proof that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was Who He claimed to be, God the Son from Eternity. And that His promises are genuine and will all be fulfilled, as He said!
      His resurrection three days following His vicarious death for us all on Golgotha's Hill is the foundation Stone of Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
      If He had not risen from the dead, there would be NO Eternal Life, NO Gospel Message of hope, peace or joy and NO forgiveness, healing or blessing! There would be nothing but pain, fear and loss for time and eternity, if Jesus Christ of Nazareth had remained in the tomb!
      The Gospel is Good News for fallen man. It is the Good Tidings of the great mercy, grace and love of God projected towards a sinful and rebellious race! The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology says: “The gospel is the joyous proclamation of God’s activity in Christ on behalf of man enslaved by sin.”
     St. Paul wrote: "Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there be no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
     "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then also them that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
     "But now, is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them the slept." (1 Cor.15: 12-20)
      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?? He was the first to die and ARISE from the dead, never to die again! Poor Lazarus had to die the second time and will be raised on the ‘Great Resurrection Morning’! It means that because Jesus arose from the dead, we will also rise from the dead. He led the way and we will follow. Hallelujah. Amen!
     The two subjects that agnostics, atheists and evolutionists fear more than anything else are: the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus!
     The birth of Jesus of Nazareth, His life and crucifixion were all well documented by the Jewish Sanhedrin and the Roman Authorities. The earthquake, darkness at noon and the rent veil in the Temple at the time of Christ's death, were AWESOME, frightening and very unnerving!
      Our Lord's resurrection, however, rocked the Jewish Community bringing tens of thousands to belief in Jesus as Messiah and God's Son!
     His resurrection from the dead on the third day, the huge stone rolled away from the tomb, guards prostrated on the ground at the sight of angels and long dead saints seen in Jerusalem, would have made a tremendous impact on the residents of the Holy City.
      How could they dispute it? The Roman Centurion and his soldiers at the cross had witnessed it all and they bowed down, saying: "Surely, this was the Son of God." Certainly the Centurion would have investigated the damage at the Temple, and how could anyone explain the supernatural force that rent the 66 foot high, 33 foot wide and 4 inch thick veil from top to bottom.
      And if there were no resurrection, WHERE was His body? Who could have moved His body and WHY would kidnappers remove His grave clothes? HOW could they have gotten the grave clothes off a ridged corpse and WHEN could they have done all that with an entire detail of soldiers guarding the tomb?
      And how would the High Priest, religious scholars and the Sanhedrin explain, 'why no-one died in the temple when the Holy of Holies was compromised'. They must have realized that Almighty God had vacated the Temple.
       Any man entering the Holy of Holies, with the exception of the High Priest carrying blood and only on the Day of Atonement, would instantly die. Yet, no-one died! At the moment that Jesus Christ, God's Paschal Lamb cried out, "It is finished; It is fulfilled; It is paid;" (gr. 'tet-telestai') and died, Almighty God tore the veil and left the Holy of Holies! (John 19: 30)
      WHY DID GOD REND THE VEIL? Jesus was the Sacrifice, the Mercy Seat and the High Priest. After having defeated death, Hell and the grave, He rose victoriously from the dead and carried His shed blood into the Holy of Holies in Heaven, where it is now interceding for us before the throne of God! (Heb.2: 14; 9: 11-14, 24)
                           THE PHENOMENON OF PENTECOST!
   The phenomenon of Pentecost was so powerful that it swept 3,000 souls into the Kingdom of God. Jesus had promised His disciples: "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judæa and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1: 8)
      JESUS promised: "Peace be unto you; as My Father hath sent Me, so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and He said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (John 20: 21,22); "And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on High." (Luke 24:49)
     The BIBLE says: "To whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
      "And being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the PROMISE of the Father which saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with Holy Ghost not many days hence." (Acts 1: 3-5)
       John the Baptist had prophesied: "...I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and Fire." (Luke 3: 16)
     "And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there cane a sound from Heaven as of a mighty rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting and there appeared cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2: 1-4)
      When the HOLY SPIRIT fell, thousands of people rushed near to hear and see this great thing. St. Peter quoted the Holy Scriptures, reproving, challenging and inviting them to repent of their sins and promising them forgiveness of sins and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, if they would receive the Lord Jesus Christ and believe the Gospel!  
       He challenged: "Ye men of Israel, hear these word: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, wonders in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know. Him being delivered by the determinate  counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain, Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible  that He should be held of it." (Acts 2: 22-24).
       "Therefore let the all the House of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, Whom ye have crucified, both LORD and CHRIST. Now when they heard that, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? 
      "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are far off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2: 36-39)
     Christ's resurrection from the dead and His appearance to Saul of Tarsus, the notorious enemy of the fledgling Christian Church, opened the Gentile World to the Gospel and eventually the acceptance of Christianity by pagan Rome!
     Can you imagine the impact of Saul's apprehension by Jesus Christ of Nazareth on the Damascus Road had on the Sanhedrin, the scribes, Pharisees and the Jewish Priesthood!
    Saul of Tarsus was their leading light and a ferocious enemy of Jesus Christ and His followers. He was a 24-karat-gold religious fanatic who suddenly was struck down to the earth, blinded by the appearance of Jesus Christ and soundly converted and filled with the Holy Spirit.
     He had held the clothing of the men who threw the stones that killed Stephen, the first Christian martyr. By his own testimony, he had "wasted the church, and destroyed it." (Gal.1: 13-16, 23)
     The Holy Scripture says: "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of he Lord, went unto the High Priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
     "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from Heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, Why persecutest thou Me? And he said, Who art Thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks (goads).
      "And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, What wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man.
     "And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink." (Acts 9: 1-9)
     The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth changed the world! Nothing like this had ever happened before! It was the great event that triggered the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
     The Holy Spirit could not be poured out on the Church before Jesus Christ, God's Pascal Lamb, had poured out His blood for the sins of the world. And Jesus had to ascend the Throne, before receiving from the Father the right to pour out the Blessed Holy Spirit upon the Church!
      Without the outpouring of the Holy Spirit there would not be a Church, because the Church was born on the Day of Pentecost. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the early followers of Jesus "filled Jerusalem with Christ's doctrine" and "turned the world upside down." (Acts 5: 28; 17:6)
       For forty days after His resurrection our precious Lord and Saviour appeared on a number of occasions to His disciples while strengthening His Church and preparing them for the descent of the Blessed Holy Spirit.
     The Holy Record states: "To whom He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." (Acts 1: 3)
      St. Paul, formerly a bitter, hateful enemy of Jesus of Nazareth and His Church, lays out in concise words what is the pure Gospel:
      “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received how that Christ DIED for our sins according to the Scriptures, And that He was BURIED, and that He ROSE AGAIN the third day according to the Scriptures:
      "And that He was SEEN of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that He was SEEN of above five hundred at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was SEEN of James; then of all the Apostles.
      "And last of all, He was SEEN of me also, as one born out of due time. For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.
       "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Cor.15: 3-10)
     When the Risen Christ encountered the two disciples on the Emmaus road, He stated: "O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things; And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24: 25-27)
      Jesus appeared to His disciples and others: "And as they thus spoke, Jesus Himself stood in their midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit.
    "And He said unto them, why are ye troubled?  And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet.
    "And while they believed not yet for joy, and wondered, He said unto them; Have ye here any meat?  And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and of an honeycomb, And He took it and did eat before them.
     "And He said unto them: These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the LAW OF MOSES, and in the PROPHETS, and in the PSALMS concerning Me.
     "Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.
      "And, behold, I send the PROMISE OF MY FATHER upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on High." (Luke 24: 36-49)
    The father of a demon possessed boy said: "Master, I have brought to Thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to Thy disciples that they should cast him out and they could not." (Mark 9: 17, 18)
     When he was brought to Jesus, the spirit threw him to the ground. The father stated: "And often it has cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if Thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and HELP us."
     "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things all possible to him that believeth and straightway the father answered, I BELIEVE. Help Thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9: 24). Then, Jesus cast the evil spirit out of the boy and he was made well!
     Our Master stated: "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10: 27) Hallelujah
   "And the Philistine said to David, COME TO ME, and I will give thy flesh to the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then David said to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword and with a spear, and with a shield: But I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
     "This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee and take thine head from thee; and give the carcasses of the host of Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
     "And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: For the BATTLE IS THE LORD'S and He will give you into our hands. And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came nigh to meet David that David hasted and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
     "And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and it smote the Philistine in the forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and smote the Philistine and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.
     "Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him and cut off his head. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled." (1 Sam.17: 44-51)
                                 ST. PAUL SAID, 'I BELIEVE GOD!
      The Bible records the devastating storm during St. Paul's sea journey to Rome: "And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened to me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
     “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, WHOSE I AM and Whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
     “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I BELIEVE GOD, that it shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit, we must be cast upon a certain island.” (Acts 27: 20-26)
    THE FULFILLMENT: Everything the angel of God told St. Paul came to pass and a great revival broke out when JESUS protected His servant Paul from the deadly snake bite and brought healing to the father of Publius.
     “In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. And it came to pass that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him
    “So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed.” (Acts 28: 7-9)
      People sometimes ask: “Why do you believe the Bible? My answer: “After thousands of hours of deep study of the Scriptures, historical records, fulfilled prophecies and current events and fifty years of preaching His Gospel across the world, I could give hundreds of reasons why I believe that the Holy Bible is God’s Word. One reason suffices: Jesus Christ believed the Old Testament and that is good enough for me!”  
      Here is a COMMENTARY of what GOD, the Father says of His SON:
     “God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds;
     “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the Majesty on High; Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
     “For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son? And again, when He bringeth in the First Begotten into the world, He saith; And let all the angels worship Him.
      “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy Kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.
     “And Thou Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands: They shall perish; but Thou remains; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment.
     “And as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” (Heb.1: 1-3)
       I believe in God because it is OBVIOUS that He exists and rules over His creation! King David, the greatest king to rule over Israel was also a Prophet of God. He made this staggering statement: “The FOOL (insane person, idiot) hath said in his heart: There is no God.” (Psalm 14: 1)
      He conveyed the truth that every person with a normally developed brain would be able to understand that there is a God Who has created the worlds and all things therein. An idiot, however, cannot be held responsible for saying that there is no God, because he doesn’t know any better!
     King David stated: “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! who has set Thy glory above the heavens. When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained,
     “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of Man, that Thou visitest him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all thing under his feet.” (Psalm 8: 1-6)
      THOMAS is known for his doubts about Christ’s resurrection. On His first appearance to the eleven apostles, after His resurrection, Thomas was not present. When he was told that the MASTER was alive and had visited them, he said: “Except I shall see in His hands the prints of the nails, and put my finger in the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)
       The Holy Record states: “And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: Then came Jesus, the door being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
     “Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither Thy hand, and thrust it into My side, and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto Him, my Lord and my God.
   “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because Thou hast seen thou hast believed, blessed are they who have not seen and yet believed.” (John 20: 26-29)
        Here is the Key to Peace, Joy, Assurance, Fellowship and Power with God! Like Thomas we must fall before the Lord Jesus Christ and worship Him, Who is the Great I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Resurrection and the Life! He must truly be our LORD and our GOD. As Lord, He is our Master and we must OBEY Him, and as God we must WORSHIP Him!
       If you, my dear friend, have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and God as did St. Thomas, then you are a member of the body of Christ and can in good faith, by God's grace and through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant make the following Confession of Faith on a daily basis:
* We are sheep of one Flock
* We are stones on one Building
* We are branches in one Vine
* We are limbs in one Body
* We are washed in one Blood
* We are bread of one Loaf
* We are lights of one Light
* We are epistles of one Book
* We are nourished by one Word
* We are baptized into one Body
* We are servants of one Master
* We are filled by one Holy Spirit
* We are bone of His bone, flesh 
of His flesh, members in particular
of Christ's Body, the Church which
is the pillar and the ground of the 
Truth! (1 Timothy 3: 15) Amen.
     St. John writes: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciple which are not written in this book. But these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name.” (John 20: 30, 31). Amen.