The Living Christ in the Church Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Now, let’s look at the lesson of divine authority and how we can have access to it.
Acts 3:6 says that Peter healed “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene.”
Peter could make this assertion because Jesus had promised His disciples, “And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
There is power and authority in Jesus name!
The answer to our crippled generation is the name of Jesus Christ, not silver or gold or self-help or positive thinking.
Peter believed this and he claimed this authority of Jesus’ name.
It says in Matthew 28:18 that Jesus was given all authority in heaven and earth.
He shared His power with His disciples, and the power to do miracles was their credential as preachers of the gospel.
That was two-thousand years ago, but today we can have authority according to Ephesians 1:19-23, for it says that all believers share the privilege of this authority.
In fact, everything we do should be done in the awareness of spiritual authority.
We have the authority to call people to salvation.
We have the authority to pray victoriously.
We have the authority to resist the devil and make him flee.
We have the authority to impose Christ’s victory in life and home and church and nation.
This spiritual authority is not to be taken lightly; it is to be exercised by believers who are filled with the Spirit, living cleansed lives, and walking by faith.
There is power in the church when believers undertake this authority.
Finally, let’s look at the lesson of a living message and its relevance for our times.
Peter gave God all the credit for the healing of the crippled man.
He said that the healing was the work of the living Christ.
Once again, that was two-thousand years ago, so what makes this first-century message relevant to twenty-first-century times?
The relevance is revealed in God’s Word and there are seven messages there for us.
First, there is the message of the responsibility for Christ’s death.
The apostles declared that the crucifixion was the greatest crime in human history.
The fact is, all of us are responsible for Christ’s death.
He was crucified by the hands of the Romans and by the will of the Jews, but He said Himself that He could have called a legion of angels.
He struggled with the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed to the Father and asked for the cup to be removed.
But in the end, He said: “Not My will, but Thy will be done.”
The Romans and the Jews were not responsible for His crucifixion.
He laid down His life willingly to pay our debt of sin and redeem our souls.
He did it because He loves you: (say it with me) “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Second, there is the message of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Some of those who Peter was speaking to were the same crowd and same religious leaders who had cried out, “Crucify Him.”
Peter told them, “You thought that you could deny the Prince of Life of His life, but you found that you were mistaken because God raised Him from the dead. When God raised Him from the dead it was proof that He was the Messiah, and it proved that His words were true. And for the proof of the resurrection, you have all of us as witnesses.”
The resurrection was an important part of almost every sermon preached by Peter and the other disciples.
Without the resurrection, there is no hope, no salvation, no Church, and no living Christ.
Third, there was the message of the power of Christ’s presence.
Peter credits the healing of the crippled man to the power of Christ.
He said, “And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know…has perfect health…”
Then he added, “You know that he was crippled from birth and that he was healed before your eyes.” “It was done in the name of Christ as He instructed us to do and with the power, He has put in us.”
The power of Christ; this is the secret of the Christian life and the source of power in the church.
Forth, there is the message of repentance and new life.
Repentance is a forgotten message of our generation, but there is no new life without it.
We cannot expect our sins to be forgiven unless we repent of them and turn to God.
Even though Christ has died to purchase the remission of sin, we can’t have the benefit of that purchase unless we repent and become converted; if there’s no repentance, there is no remission.
Peter said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…”
Fifth, there’s the message of revival from the Lord’s presence.
Peter talked about the times of refreshing that were coming for those who were sons and daughters of Christ.
We may live in times of toil and conflict (doubts and fears within, troubles and dangers without) but we can know that our sins are pardoned and we can rejoice and be refreshed by the Spirit of God.
Sixth, there’s the message of the return of the Lord.
The message of the early church was the second coming of Jesus Christ.
His coming was always in the consciousness of the early believers.
When He came the first time He came to seek and to save those who were lost.
When He comes the second time it will be as King and Judge.
At that time He will put down all rebellion and unrighteousness.
It will be a time of judgment, but for the believer, it will be a glorious time because we will be able to draw near to our Salvation.
We will be robed in the righteousness of Christ and will not be judged for our sins.
Instead, we will be rewarded for our works done for Christ.
But for those who rejected Christ, there will be no reincarnation, no second chance, and no excuses.
Last, we have the message of the response to Christ’s message.
It is a simple message: hear and be blessed, or refuse to hear and be destroyed.
Responding to Christ brings untold joy; rejecting Him brings spiritual ruin.
That’s the meaning of Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Here is a sad announcement, “The wages of sin is death.”
Although the way we go may seem pleasant and inviting, it may lead to a bitter and dismal end.
Death is the wage that is due to a sinner when he has sinned, just like a wage is due to any employee when he has done his work.
This is true for every sin.
Death is the wage even for the least sin and everyone employed in sin should expect to receive that wage.
But here is a happy announcement, “The gift of God is eternal life.”
Heaven is life, and it is eternal life.
It is a place without pain or death or sickness.
This is a gift of God.
The death is a wage of sin, and it is just deserts, but life is a gift and it comes by grace.
Sinners deserve hell, but the best saints do not deserve heaven.
There is no amount of obedience on our part that will call for our acceptance in heaven.
We must thank God and not ourselves if we ever get to heaven.
And this Gift is through Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is Christ who purchased it, prepared it, prepares us for it, and preserves us for it.
He is all-in-all as far as our salvation is concerned.
Whenever the message of salvation is preached, something happens.
The book of Acts is living proof of the living Christ in the church.
The living Christ means hope for our crippled society, authority for the people of God, and a message for all times.
Apply his power and authority to your life by faith, and let His Word be living and active in you. AMEN.