Do you remember where you were when President Kennedy was shot?
… when you heard about the 9/11 attacks?
If you were alive then, you remember—even though our President was assassinated over 48 years ago and you remember seeing the scenes on television, though they occurred almost 11 years ago. You didn’t have to see those tragedies firsthand; they were so shocking, so threatening to your sense of well-being that they will forever be real in your mind.
Now, do you remember where you were when Jesus rose from the grave and ascended to heaven? Nope, we weren’t there. Nevertheless, we believe the reports of the witnesses. Because those witnesses recorded something even more dramatic—the coming back to life of a person they saw executed.
Over the next 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He told his followers, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Then he was taken up into the air and a cloud hid him from their sight. Those witnesses would never forget what they saw and experienced—just like we’ll never forget 9/11. On the day of Pentecost, the promised Holy Spirit descended on the 120 followers who remained in Jerusalem—accompanied by miraculous signs and wonders. Another unforgettable event for the witnesses. Afterward, Peter preached and 3,000 were added to their number.
Lives were totally changed. The gospel spread from villages and cities through the apostles’ preaching, through their testimonies.
Thirty plus years after Christ’s ascension the narrative gospel accounts were written. Luke wrote the history of the early church (Acts of the Apostles) around 63-70 AD. The gospel of John was written 85-90 AD. In 397 AD the Council of Carthage established the orthodox NT canon.
Those witnesses proclaimed what they’d seen and heard. In 70 AD, Roman soldiers destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. The Romans then turned their attention to the new Christian sect. Christians fled, dispersing throughout the empire. Incredibly, the ranks of the believers increased, despite persecution. Each new believer had his or her personal miracle to share with the world.
Those heroic witnesses endured burnings, gladiators and wild animals in the arena, imprisonment and floggings; some were sawn in two … Men of whom the world was not worthy, they wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Yet, their testimonies endured to encourage those who followed, to this day.
And at this day, God has purposed that you and I continue the witness. Even though our culture is rejecting God’s Word and making up its own truth. Today, Christians are increasingly marginalized in America. Why?
Because it’s not cool to tell your friends, your relatives, that you believe Jesus lives. That He’s the Son of God. So, a lot of people who call themselves Christian pretend otherwise. It’s not because they don’t believe in the supernatural; it’s because believing in Jesus—truly believing—means that you belong to Him.
Rather than give up their right to themselves, many choose to remain in bondage to this decaying, disordered world … this clamorous, intolerant, indifferent place.
Jesus gave everyone a choice. He said, “My peace I give you—not as the world gives …”
Which do you want?
If you want to know more about the peace that Jesus spoke of, see a pastor of a Bible-believing church. Or contact me.
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