Jesus has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. He was the beginning of the great harvest, the beginning of the great harvest. Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection. So Jesus talked about being born again, and then he was the demonstration of that power.
So when he was resurrected from the dead, he was saying, look, you can be born again, and this is in fact a proof positive of this. Welcome to Cross the Bridge with David McGee. David is the senior pastor of the bridge near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Let's join Pastor David in the service as he continues in the Book of Romans chapter 6. Coming to you actually from Rome today, and we're going to be talking about the Book of Romans, a life-changing experience.
It's been changing lives for 2,000 years, and it could change yours. So grab your Bible, sit down, and let's go through the Book of Romans together. Turn with me to the Book of Romans.
We're going to be in chapter 6. And again, coming to you from Rome. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to talk a little bit about the scriptures and also talk a little bit about the historical setting, because in the background, what you see is the Colosseum, and that actually has a lot to do with scripture and Christian history. So let's go to Romans chapter 6, and let's pick it up with verse 7. It says, For he who has died has been freed from sin. And continuing with verse 8, Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we also live with him. So now we've got another of those if-then statements that are common in the Book of Romans. Verse 9, Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over him. So again, we've got one of these knowing statements.
We came across them in verse 3, we came across them in verse 6, and here again in verse 9. It doesn't say, hey, if you think, if you wander. It says no.
And no as in no for certain. Like, I know my name is David. I know when my birthday is. I know Christ rose from the dead.
It's not that I think he might have or could be. No, I know it. I know it. And we need to understand that this is a knowledge that you can have. This isn't just some fairy tale or folk tale or something. Now, Romans 6, 9, the New Living Translation reads like this. It says, We are sure of this because Christ rose from the dead, and he will never die again.
Death no longer has any power over him. That's interesting. We're in this city with all the Caesars and the bust of Caesars and the statues and stuff. And it's interesting to me that people often question the life of Jesus, whether he actually lived or whether he actually died. And it's kind of bizarre because there is more literary proof that Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, and was resurrected. More literary proof than Julius Caesar ever lived.
And yet, if I walked around in this crowd and said, hey, I'm not sure I believe that stuff about Julius Caesar, they'd probably cart me off in the loony wagon. So, you know, the fact of the matter is there's historical fact to the life and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, that's kind of interesting because, and I'm not just talking about the four gospels. Josephus, who was a Jewish historian, recorded that Jesus was raised from the dead. There's also a Roman historian, a tactician, I think, who wrote that, again, Jesus was raised from the dead. So the life lesson here, the fact that Jesus died and was raised from the dead is a recorded historical event. Now, that's not included, was raised from the dead.
A lot of people are okay with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. They say, yeah, well, I believe he died and some people say, well, he died as a man and dah, dah, dah. No, no, he was resurrected and he proved in that that he was deity and the sacrifice for sins was accepted. So that's an important thing because a lot of liberal theologians and whatnot say, well, it wasn't a literal resurrection. Maybe he fainted a little bit and then he, you know, came back or something like that.
No, no, no. He was literally dead and it was literally a resurrection. Now, it's interesting because a lot of people, they don't have a problem with the crucifixion. They got a problem with the resurrection.
And why is that? Because it's a display of the power of God. And understand that the resurrection is what really changes everything because Jesus died and was raised from the dead. And the Bible points out that, hey, death has no more power because Jesus Christ broke that power. So, as we look at this passage and it says, knowing that Christ has been raised from the dead dies no more, death no longer has dominion over him. So, he's got the power.
He's got the keys. Revelation chapter 1 verse 17 says this, do not be afraid. I am the first and the last. I am he who lives and was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. I have the keys of Hades and of death.
So, this is an awesome, awesome word picture here. It has the keys. He can get in. He can, when you have the keys to something, you have the power over it. When you have the keys to go in somewhere, you have the power over it.
Keys really represent power if you think about it. Also, in that verse and that reference in Revelation, let me point out something because we often hear the, I'm the first and last and the Alpha and Omega and the Greek, but Jesus wouldn't have been speaking Greek. He would have been speaking Hebrew. What he would have said is, I am the Aleph and the Tav. Now, this is really interesting.
I'm going to take a little rabbit trail for just a second. The Aleph and the Tav, he would have used that because that's the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, but there's something in there that you might have missed, not looking a little more in-depth with the Hebrew. Hebrew Aleph and the Beit is the second word where we get our word for alphabet, but that Tav word is very interesting.
Why? Because Tav meant the sign or the covenant is what the word Tav meant. Now, Tav is where we actually get our word, our letter T, okay? We have our capital T, which is the top, which is more of the Etruscan. Going back originally in the Hebrew, before they went into the, into Babylonian captivity, understanding Hebrew as a picture language. It's like Chinese or Egyptian in the sense that it's a, the picture stood for things. So, originally the Hebrew was a picture language. Now, after Babylon, they changed the language a little bit, rounded them off, squared them off so they were easier to write and read and whatnot, but they lost some of the picture. So, that word Tav, that Hebrew Tav changed a lot, changed significantly, and we lost some of the word picture. See, again, we get our letter T. If you look at a capital T, it's got the cross at the top.
It's not the way it was back then. The cross would have been as a small t, and it would have been a cross. This is the letter that forms the word that means the sign or the covenant. This is what's used in Ezekiel 9, 4 through 7. It says, And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark, that's Tav, on the foreheads of the men, who sigh and cry over all of the abominations that are done within it. To the others he said in my hearing, Go after him through the city and kill.
Do not let your eyes spare, nor let any have pity. Verse 6, Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children, and women, but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark, again, Tav, and begin at my sanctuary. So they began with the elders who went before the temple. So, this word mark from that word Tav, from Moses to David to Daniel, this Tav was the sign or the covenant, the promise, if you will. So, even in that Aleph Tav at first and last, he gives us this Tav, the sign of the covenant. In other words, when they anointed people in the Old Testament, they usually did it with the T. In other words, they would take the anointing oil, and we do the cross, the anointing in the Hebrew description. Obviously, that changed.
Why? Because of the cross. Because of the cross, the T changed, the anointing, the way they did that was changed. Also, Tav, the last letter, is the V or the Vav. T-A-V is Tav. So, the V, and what's that word picture of? Well, the word picture originally for the Vav was a nail, was a nail. So, then you have Tav, which is the cross. You have the nail, and the word itself means covenant. In the middle, you have the A, which is Aleph, which originally meant the leader. If you invert to A upside down, you'll see ox with the horns and then the head. When you turn that over, you get our letter A, Tav. So, right in the middle, we know that Jesus was crucified in the middle.
So, it's filled with word pictures there with the Tav. Now, but the fact is, Jesus was born, Jesus was crucified, and Jesus came back to life. First Corinthians 15, 20 says this, but the fact is that Jesus has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. So, he was the beginning of the great harvest, the beginning of the great harvest.
Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection. Thank you for listening to Cross the Bridge with David McGee. We'll return to David's teaching in just a moment. The tragedy in Benghazi, the bombings in Boston, and the current unrest in Egypt are all vivid accounts of terrorism. Each time an event like this occurs, it often causes us to respond with fear. But it doesn't have to, because God knows your future, and you can too. With David McGee's teaching entitled, Know Your Future, Be Immune to Terrorism, you'll come to understand the realities of radical Islam while rejoicing in God's promises for your future.
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And again, coming to you from Rome. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to talk a little bit about the scriptures and also talk a little bit about the historical setting because in the background what you see is the Colosseum and you may think, well, what's the Colosseum have to do in anything? Does it have anything to do with Christianity? It has a lot to do with Christianity. Now, people who are rewriting history now will tell you that no executions of Christians, no martyrdom took place in this. Probably see that on the Discovery Channel, History Channel. That is historically inaccurate. It's a revisionist or a rewriting, if you will, of history because let's go backwards a little bit. The history of Rome started about 750 BC with Romulus and Remus.
It's kind of a legend, but these two twin brothers were nourished by this she-wolf. Then what happens is, and this is going to be like a real succinct history, real short, but Romulus killed his brother to take the power and so it kind of set the tone really for the city in that it was okay to kill somebody if you were going to gain power. So the Roman really era was from about 500 BC to about 500 AD. It's about a thousand years. First 500 years it was growing. Peak for the next 200 years and a state decline for the next 300 years.
So 500 years to Julius Caesar, about 500 BC to Julius Caesar about 45 BC. It was a republic, much like our government in the United States. Our government is not a democracy. Our government is a republic in that we hire people to vote for us.
In other words, we don't vote on everything, on every item and every agenda. So a lot of their influence came over into our government. It was basically built on the Roman philosophy. Well, it was a republic until Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar came in. He was triumvirate with a couple other guys and he kind of took leadership from them. He went to Gaul.
Romans were great engineers. He came back and he said, you know what, I'm going to leave the country and named himself first among equals, so to speak, and that he was named himself emperor for life. So he comes in, he's emperor for life, and now that begins the reign of the empire of Rome, if you will, for the next 500 years. So Julius Caesar names himself empire for life. That lasts about a year until his buddies figured out, hey, you know what, we just need to take him out.
And that's what they did. And a place not too far from here is where they burned him and cremated him, if you will, and Mark Antony, according to Shakespeare, said, hey, I've come not to praise Caesar but to bury him. Well, for the next few years as a triumvirate of Mark Antony and another man, Octavian, and another guy who's Lapidus or something like that.
Those three guys rule for a little while. Octavian then gets in a battle with Mark Antony, who has the backing of Cleopatra from Egypt. They get in a battle, and then what happens is Octavian gains power. Octavian renames himself Augustus, Caesar Augustus. Now Julius Caesar thought he was important enough. They named a month after him, July. Augustus thought the same thing.
We get our month from August. So Augustus comes in. Now Augustus is the, Octavian, when he renamed himself Augustus, is the emperor who was in place at the birth of Jesus. And so we see in Luke chapter 2 verse 1, it says, now it came to pass in those days that the decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
When it's talking about that, when it's talking about being registered, what's that saying? Well, he's collecting taxes. Why was he collecting taxes?
Well, because of this city. Augustus became known as somebody that turned the city into marble, if you will. Obviously that took a lot of money. How did the Romans do all these things?
Well, either two ways. Either they taxed people or it was just simply plunder from these places what they would, they would conquer. So one of the ways, again, was taxes. So they declared taking taxes from these people in Judea. That led to Mary and Joseph being where they were at the time. So Augustus from about 31 to 14 AD, after that Tiberius ruled from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was the one who was ruling at the crucifixion. And we see that in Luke chapter 3 verse 1 and 2.
It says, now in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Atteria, and the regent of Traconius, Licinius tetrarch of Abilene. So there again the Bible is recording that Tiberius was Caesar. Now, and that's what we need to understand, too, is the Bible is a supernatural spiritual book. It's extremely accurate historically. As a matter of fact, historians look to the Bible to see timelines and whatnot. And through the two references I just gave you, we see the validation that Augustus was emperor from, you know, up until 14 AD, and we see Tiberius came in. So the life lesson here is the Bible accurately records actual historic events, and it can be trusted.
The Bible accurately records actual historical events and can be trusted. Now, after Tiberius came Caligula, Caligula only ruled for about four years, was a bad guy. And what happened after Caligula is actually they came in, and the guards were just kind of fed up with those weird orgies and stuff, and so they actually murdered all of the Roman family.
Now, there was one guy there that was related to him. His name was Claudius. Claudius hid behind this curtain, and he actually bribed the Praetorium guards to declare him as emperor. So he's a very unlikely candidate to be an emperor.
He had speech problems, they say. He also had a problem with one of his legs, but because he bribed the guards, he became emperor. But he had a real weakness as far as women went, and so what happened is he married this lady, Agrippina, who was the sister of Caligula. Now, she was a very bad woman, and what happened was she wanted power. So after a while, he married her.
She had a son from another man. His name was Nero. Now, at 12 years old, she convinced Claudius to name Nero, instead of his biological son, as Caesar. So Nero comes in, and he's the next in line.
Well, guess what happened? After she named Nero, within a couple of years, he died from poisoning. And, of course, she was probably guilty, but she was such a powerful woman, she got away with it. And at 16 years old, Nero came into power. Nero comes into power. Nero is a bad guy.
You've probably heard historically how bad he was, but, you know, he did a lot of bad things. And actually, this downtown area, he claimed, over time, 200 acres for himself. But how was he going to get access to that kind of property in the middle of the town? Well, he came up with a plan.
That is burn the city. So he set a fire. Historians are reasonably sure it was him who did it. Now, he wouldn't have played a fiddle. He probably would have played a lyre, and that's what history accurately records, is that he played this lyre while Rome burned. And so Rome burned, and then people got suspicious, because he had this urban renewal plan. So this was about 60, 64, 64 AD.
So in 64 AD, the fire happens. He's got a problem. He's got a public relations problem, if you will, because now people are suspicious that Nero and his urban renewal plan is, you know, going to, he's responsible for this fire. His solution is he blames the Christians. He says it was those Christians. They hate people. And so because they hate people, they've come out now and they've burned the city. Well, the people ate it up.
They believed him. And so that was the next four years' intense persecution of Christians. In 68, the people were fed up with Nero. He had been a bad leader.
He not only was persecuting Christians, but if you were a wealthy landowner downtown Rome, you were in danger, because Nero would come in and say, hey, you know what? I want your money. I have a special tax on you.
I want your property. And then what he would do after he took those things is he'd kill them. So, you know, it was a dangerous time.
Even the powerful senators and stuff and what would have been the upper echelon of society were worried. So what happened? The guards chased Nero down. Before they could get to him, he decided to kill himself with the help of a guard.
And he quoted, he said, oh, what an artist dies within me. Not too far from here, there was a place that he built, this huge palace on 200 acres. That was the invention pretty much of the vaulted ceiling. They built that. You see lots of arches.
And it was basically built by taking an arch and moving it, taking an arch and moving it, so that it got that vaulted ceiling, which, of course, we still use today. Now, Nero, again, was a bad guy. He actually presented to one of his wives the head of his former wife and then ended up kicking his pregnant wife to death while she was pregnant. So, again, bad guy.
Ends up killing himself. And so at that point, Rome was pretty tired of these types of rulers. In comes Vespasian, which ties into this building behind us. Vespasian came in 69 AD, ruled to about 79 AD. Now, he had been a leader general governor in Judea, in what we know as Israel today. And he was the one that was launching the campaign to crush the rebellion of the Jewish people at that time. And what happened is he established himself. And, you know, you establish yourself as a general, gaining a lot of power, and then you were placed in power as a Caesar. And so that's what happened with Vespasian.
He had proven himself out in Judea. He came back here to 69 AD and took over the empire as the emperor. Now, Vespasian was kind of like the anti-Nero.
He was a leader of the people, if you will. And so the first thing he did is he wanted to undo the damage that Nero had done. And so this area behind me had been Nero's swimming pool.
That's putting it lightly. It's more like a huge lake, man-made lake. And he filled that in, and he started to build this, the Colosseum. Now, he started that in about 72 AD. He continued. It took eight years to build. He actually didn't get to see the completion of it, but he started in 72 AD.
Now, here's the thing. In order to build something like this, you need a lot of money, a lot of energy, a lot of resources. Where did the energy and the resources for this come from? Well, if you remember your history, Jesus had prophetically announced that the temple would be basically wiped flat. Matthew 24, 1 and 2, it says, Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple. And his disciples came up to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, Do you not see all these things?
Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down. The temple and all the goods in it, the menorah, all these gold pieces, the Romans took from Jerusalem. And so they took these things, and that's actually what financed the building of the Colosseum. Now, not only was those resources used to finance the work of the Colosseum, but 12,000 Jewish people had been captured during the revolt, the rebellion, were the ones who worked on this and built this. And so they worked seven days a week. They didn't give them the Sabbath. They didn't understand the Shabbat.
And so they worked day and night to build this. The Spatian died in 79 natural causes, kind of a rare thing for a Caesar. Titus is who took over in A.D.A.D. And that was when actually the Colosseum was completed.
A big deal in A.D.A.D. when it was completed, they celebrated it with a sacrificing of 5,000 animals. And so the Colosseum was a free place for people to come. In the morning, they would have a man fighting beast. In the afternoon, they would have executions. I mean, about noontime, the executions, whoever was going to be executed, that's when a lot of Christians would have been killed. Again, it's hard to imagine that they were executing a lot of Christians and they weren't executing them in the Colosseum, which had daily executions. So that's what this has to do. The prophetic fulfillment of what Jesus prophesied, hey, the temple is going to be torn down. It's going to be left flat. So the resources of the temple is what built this.
Probably the most significant, obviously the most visual of all these ruins in Rome was built by the things that were taken from the temple, built by Jewish slaves for those eight years. Friend, do you know for sure that your sins have been forgiven? You can know right now. I want to lead you in a short, simple prayer, simply telling God you're sorry and asking Him to help you to live for Him. Please pray this prayer with me out loud right now. Dear Jesus, I believe you died for me, that I could be forgiven. And I believe you were raised from the dead, that I could have a new life. And I've done wrong things. I have sinned and I'm sorry. Please forgive me of all those things. Please give me the power to live for you all of my days. In Jesus' name.
Amen. Friend, if you prayed that prayer according to the Bible, you've been forgiven. You've been born again. So congratulations, friend.
You just made the greatest decision that you will ever make. God bless you. If this was your first time praying that prayer with Pastor David, we would love to hear from you. You can call us toll free at 877-458-5508 to receive our First Steps package with helpful resources to help you begin your walk with Christ. Also, if you've been blessed by Cross the Bridge Ministries, would you consider supporting us with a financial gift? When you call with your gift, make sure to ask them about this month's special offer entitled, Know Your Future, Be Immune to Terrorism.
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That's 877-458-5508. Or go online to crossthebridge.com. While there, take a moment to sign up for David's free email devotional or browse our large library of teachings. Again, our website is crossthebridge.com. Thank you for listening, and we hope you'll join us again next time as we continue to cross the bridge.
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