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Christ and the Early Church #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2024 12:00 am

Christ and the Early Church #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in The Truth Pulpit. To begin our time tonight, I ask you to turn to Psalm 2, which is not really the text for this evening, but it will give us a starting point for our thoughts tonight in a message I've titled Christ and the Early Church. Christ and the Early Church. We're going to read from Psalm 2 as we begin.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us. He who sits in the heavens laughs. The Lord holds them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath and terrify them in his fury, saying, As for me, I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill. I will tell of the decree. The Lord said to me, You are my son. Today I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Now therefore, O kings, be wise. Be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the son, lest he be angry and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2 is one of the opening pillars of the Psalms. We said years ago that Psalms 1 and 2 function kind of like pillars that introduce you into all of the following 148 Psalms. The first two Psalms set a tone of the godly man in Psalm 1, and then in Psalm 2 an expectation of the coming Messiah, which is borne out in the subsequent Psalms as you see the life and the thoughts and the prayer and the praise of a godly man unfolded. And then you have an abundance of Psalms that create an expectation of the coming Messiah in accordance with Psalm 2. And that little recognition and introduction is helpful for us this evening because we're going to be talking about how Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of the Old Testament expectation of a coming Messiah. And all of this is wrapped around our, the theme that we started just on Sunday, a brief series titled, Is Christianity True?

Is Christianity True? And tonight's message Christ and the Early Church is an advance on that brief series, which is an advance on our bigger series called Building a Christian Mind. Now before I go any further, I just want to say something to help you kind of appreciate, and what I mean by appreciate is understand and see the significance of the different aspects that a well-rounded pulpit must give to you. Over the course of time, a broad number of responsibilities that a pulpit is to fulfill to the people of God for that they would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We're most familiar with the idea of a biblical exposition and teaching through texts on a verse-by-verse basis, and that is fundamental and foundational to everything that a Bible teaching church should do over the course of time. And along the way, there's a pulpit should provide comfort to the people of God in their afflictions and in their sorrows. A pulpit should almost, it seems almost conversely, provide elements of rebuke for people in sin, warnings about rejecting the gospel. There's an evangelistic thrust to preaching. A grounded pulpit must teach you theology and help you to see how the teaching of Scripture presents a unified and systematic development of truth. There's instruction, there's information that's provided, there's just a broad range of themes and approaches that are necessary to teach the full counsel of God. And the temptation is for a pulpit to focus on one thread, to always be a comforting pulpit, but that's not healthy.

Sometimes people just need to be flat out rebuked. You are sinning, you are thinking wrongly, you are teaching things that are not true, and you need to stop that, you know, and so there's just a broad range of things that go into a pulpit that teaches the full counsel of God. Here tonight, we want to focus on some of the historical aspects of Christianity and show you from Scripture where you find these things and what the implications of them are. So that's where we're going here this evening, and I'm delighted to have this opportunity to open the Word of God is a privilege that I try never to take for granted because we don't know what our lives are like tomorrow and, you know, what tomorrow may hold.

So we enjoy the moment, we take advantage of the moment, we take advantage of every opportunity. At least we should, we should take advantage of every opportunity to improve our minds through the teaching of the Word of God and to avail ourselves of it because we never know when things might change that would not make it possible for us to enjoy the benefits like we have this evening. So, last time we saw that our faith is rooted in undeniable history as we considered what we looked at on Sunday, and what we saw is that there is no time in which Christianity could have been invented as a fiction.

There's no way that that ever could have worked. We saw that in A.D. 200 there was already such a widespread Christian community that they needed large public places in order to bury all of these Christians which tells us that Christianity had existed a long time before then. And the point of this is that there was never a time, it was utterly impossible to create a fiction like Jesus Christ that would explain the subsequent course of the early church.

There was never a time for that. As we worked our way back in time we saw that in A.D. 112 there are historical writings that refer to Christ and secular sources that refer to it as a pernicious superstition but the reality was is that whether it's a superstition or not there were a lot of people that believed it. It was recognized at that time as having widespread influence. You go back even further in time, you go to A.D. 64 and the burning of Rome and you see that there was a body of Christians there that Nero could blame for the burning of Rome. It wasn't true, it was a false accusation but there was a large enough segment far from Jerusalem of Christians that the emperor saw them as a convenient scapegoat to cover up his own crimes. Now that tells us that just going by those standpoints, those little historical markers that you could not have invented it in 200 A.D. and just created a fiction whole cloth in 200 A.D. because there were too many people there that already believed it. Same thing in 112, same thing in 64 and so as you go further and further back in uncontested historical sources you realize that there was no time, there was no place for this to be made up. There was no time in which the story of Christ could ever have been invented as an utter complete fiction and the reason that it couldn't have been presented as an utter fiction is because it was true and it was rooted in historical time and space, reality and events witnessed by tens of thousands of people with hundreds and hundreds of witnesses to the resurrection and we just need to know these things and if a pulpit doesn't give you these things I don't know, you may not ever see them but it is an easy refutation of the ignorant and I use that as a descriptive not a pejorative term, the ignorant idea that there's no basis for what we believe. That's foolish and completely easily refutable falsehoods that are alleged against our most precious faith. Now that's just a brief look back at what we said on Sunday.

Now we pivot this evening to new material. There is another reality historically rooted that reinforces that Christianity must be true, that there is no alternative but to acknowledge that Christianity must be true. When we say Christianity we're talking about the biblical gospel, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

We're not talking about some social gospel, we're not talking in terms of liberal Christianity that reduces the biblical message to just a series of ethics or the social justice gospel or whatever modern perversions are laid upon it in our day. No, we're talking about the biblical gospel, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, he was raised on the third day and that therefore in light of that the call upon all men is to repent and believe in him for the forgiveness of their sins upon pain of eternal judgment if you reject him. That's true, that is the gospel, that is Christianity and it is true and it could be no, we can reach no other conclusion than to assert that. Now tonight what we're going to look at is how the Old Testament expectation of a coming Messiah shows us the unavoidable necessity of the conclusion that Christianity is true. The Old Testament created an expectation of a coming Messiah and in light of subsequent events in the New Testament era and the history that we've already seen on Sunday we see that there is no possible conclusion except that everything that we find in scripture is true and that the message of the gospel is an unavoidable reality that with which men must come to terms with. So for our first point this evening let's just review briefly that Old Testament expectation, the Old Testament expectation and we really saw it laid out there in Psalm 2 as the Lord speaks about as Yahweh speaks about the installation of his son as king on Zion, his holy hill. There was this coming king and in verses 10 through 12 there in Psalm 2 you see this expectation of something that was still future from the standpoint of the writer of the psalm. In verse 10 we read, Now therefore O kings be wise, be warned O rulers of the earth, serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling, kiss the son lest he be angry and you perish in the way for his wrath is quickly kindled, blessed are all who take refuge in him. This psalm speaks in terms of someone who had not yet arrived on the scene and it creates this expectation that there is one coming that you must recognize and bow down before. And so there is this expectation of a coming king, one of great significance who would come that had not yet appeared on the scene. And in other places the psalm speaks about this coming future ruler and I'm just going to give you verse references, we won't take the time to turn there, but in Psalm 72 verse 11, Psalm 72 verse 11 we read, Let all the kings bow down before him, let all nations serve him. In verse 17 of Psalm 72 it says, His name will endure forever. In Psalm 89 verse 27 we read that he would be highest of the kings of the earth. And in Daniel chapter 2 verse 44 we read that his kingdom will endure forever. And those are just, that's just a sampling, that's just a sampling to give you the sense of the theme that I'm laying out before you that the Old Testament scriptures called men to look for a king who was coming, a king exalted above all other kings, above all other dominions, a king who would have an everlasting kingdom. Well as you read through Old Testament history, you read about David and how he fell, Solomon and he fell, then the kingdom divided and things really spiraled out of control. You realize that none of those kings were a king like that.

After the exile, they came back, they were a small remnant under the domination of, at that time, the Persians and then the Greeks and then the Romans. There was never this transcendent king as a historical figure that satisfied what the expectation was and so for a full millennium, just looking at, starting at the point of the Psalms and going forward, going back 1,500 years to the time of Moses up to the time of Christ, there's this expectation that someone is coming and there's this longing for this one to come. In Deuteronomy 18 verse 15, Moses said, the Lord will raise up a prophet like me, listen to him. But who was this prophet that was like Moses? Where is the king that has this transcendent effect? And while Psalm 2 called nations to have no other gods before Yahweh, they were commanded to do homage to this coming sons. Psalm 2 verse 12, kiss the son.

In other words, give your affection to him, give your allegiance to him, bow to him. This is, this coming one is the one to whom you are to give all of your allegiance. And so understand, and it helps maybe to have a little bit of historical perspective here, the United States of America has not even been, has not been a country for even 250 years yet.

It's coming up, I guess, in what, 2026, the 250th anniversary of the founding of our country. That's a very long time for all of us. And we look back at our history and 46 presidents, 45 men who were president, you know, and just that long, rich history of our country. You look back at the ebbs and flow and the Civil War and the Great War and the First World War and the Second World War and all of those things, and there's just a whole lot of history there that we kind of know and assimilate a little bit as common knowledge.

Oh, beloved, think about it this way. At the time that Christ arrived, going back to Moses, is about 1,500 years, six times the length of the history of America as we're speaking here today, and over 1,500 years, not 250, six times as long, there were these prophetic pictures. There were these hints, these drawings, these shadows of one who was to come with such great authority and come in the name of God. That's the historical depth of the expectation amongst the Jewish people when Christ arrived. They'd been waiting for this Messiah for over 1,500 years.

And even before that, as you go back 2,000 years before the time of Christ and consider Abraham and how God promised him that in his seed all the nations would be blessed, thousands of years of expectation. And kings would rise up, prosper for a time. Is this the one? No, he's not the one. He fell.

He died. But there's this burning. There's this churning. There's this yearning for this promised leader to come.

Okay? Very, very important to recognize that Old Testament expectation. Now, along with that sense of this conquering king, we read that this Messiah of God would be someone who is even more than a national leader. This coming Messiah was one who would provide spiritual deliverance to his people.

Not simply political deliverance. He was going to provide spiritual deliverance. He was going to undo what Satan did to man at the fall in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3.15. You know, the first statement of the gospel that there would be one who would come and bruise Satan's head after Satan had tempted man into the fall that ruined all of us. And as you read through the Old Testament, the family line, the ancestral line of this one who would come would be traced through Abraham and through the tribe of Judah and then through David in the Davidic Covenant.

He would be born in Bethlehem, Micah 5.2. And we've looked at all of this in the pretty recent past, and so I'm not going to go over and have you look up all of these things except for this one text in Isaiah 53. Turn to Isaiah 53 with me. What the Old Testament picture is creating a sense and an anticipation of one who is unspeakably great, who is high and lofty and powerful.

In Isaiah 53 verses 5 and 6, we read something else about this coming deliverer. In verse 5, we read that he would be wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray.

We have turned, every one, to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. One who would come not only and deliver the people, but would be a sin-bearing Messiah. And then you read in Scripture, as I alluded earlier, these are promises that were not just for Israel. God promised Abraham that through him all the nations would be blessed in Genesis 12, Genesis 15, Genesis 22. And in that little brief outline that I've given you here, we just see that rising from the pages of the Old Testament is this great one who would be identified with Yahweh and deliver his people both politically and spiritually, not necessarily at the same time.

And so this Messiah was considered to be the anointed one, meaning that he was set apart for the divine call on the office to fulfill all that God had promised to his people over the course of these many promises given over 1,500, 2,000 years. And now, you know, I just don't want you to lose sight of the historical magnitude of what we're talking about. Here we are talking about it 2,000 years after the time of Christ. We're considering things that have been in place and in writing for 4,000 years.

The historical timeframe here is just incalculable. Now, here's the question for tonight. This is a serious part of building a Christian mind, and you need to have this installment, you need to have this brick in the wall that serves to guard your mind and circle around and give you the appropriate realm of Christian thinking.

You need to know these things. And that brings us to our second point here tonight, the New Testament fulfillment. The New Testament fulfillment. The question is, how does that Old Testament expectation carry over into the New Testament?

All right? You've got this massive Old Testament expectation of one unspeakably great who was to come in the name of God. Now what does the New Testament and how does the New Testament relate to that?

Well, let's start here. The Greek word for anointed one is Christ. The Christ was, and here's what the sense of the term is, the Christ is the one who was the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end time deliverer. Whoever the Christ was, and that's really, really critical for your thinking and understanding what we're saying here this evening, whoever the Christ was, was the one that they were expecting to come and fulfill all of these New Old Testament hopes that had been laid down over the course of 2,000 years of prophecy. That's who the Christ was, the anointed one, the expected deliverer. And the expected is the really, is just so important there, generation after generation after generation longing for this one to come in their lifetimes and not seeing it. And there's just this accumulated growing over time expectation and hope longing for him to come. And you see it in the New Testament when men like Simon in the temple at the birth of Jesus and Anna, she served night and day in the temple longing for this Christ to come.

It's all of that is rooted in this long history of the Old Testament, beloved. Now you and I, we are so used to the term, the name Jesus Christ, that we miss the full significance of it. In New Testament times without a very good grounding in the Old Testament, without an explanation of what terms mean and what the historical roots of those terms are, you know, there are many people who would just think Jesus Christ, like I'm Don Green, Don is my first name, Green is my last name, Jesus first name, Christ the last name. That ain't it.

That ain't it. That to say Jesus Christ to join the name of the man Jesus of Nazareth with the loaded theological biblical term of Christ, the anointed one, is to link those two things together in an inseparable way with far reaching consequences. For the Jews in the first century to join the name of the man Jesus to the title of Christ was absolutely earth shaking.

This was a magnitude 10.0 earthquake on the Richter scale for their thought and for their expectations. To say that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ meant nothing less than this. It meant that the Son of God had come to earth. And if the Son of God had come, then there's a sense in which the Messianic age had arrived. Now, with all of that in mind, turn to Matthew chapter 16. And we're building a case here, beloved. We haven't even gotten to the substance of things yet.

We've just been laying groundwork for now. And in Matthew chapter 16, verse 13, Jesus is going to bring out a confession out of the mouth of Peter to clarify who he was for the sake of the circle of disciples. In verse 13, we read this, now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, who do people say that the Son of Man is?

That's a self-referential term. Jesus is asking them, in other words, who do people say that I am? And they said, some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

There was a fog in the mind of the people. They saw that there was something special about Jesus, and they tried to associate him with significant figures of the Old Testament, prophets, maybe another coming of John the Baptist. There's something significant about them, but the common theme of all of those is that he was a man.

And that's not the full answer to it. And so Jesus, in verse 15, said to them, but who do you say that I am? And look at what Simon Peter says. He replied, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You're more than a prophet.

You're more than a man. You are the Christ. He's saying, Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of thousands of years of Old Testament expectation. You are the one that God said he would send. And Jesus answered him, said, blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Peter, you have just spoken out words of divine revelation.

God gave that understanding to you. You are blessed because God has opened your mind to see the truth about who Christ is. You're the Christ, the Son of the living God. And notice that the passage opens, verse 13, when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi and it has a climax where it says Jesus is the Christ. Now Peter's confession is stunning in the magnitude of its importance. Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, affirmed by Christ as having been given to him by revelation from God, that confession meant nothing less than this. It meant that the turning point of history had arrived. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

In other words, there is no one else to look for. Everything that our nation has been longing for for 2,000 years through the Torah, the first five books of Moses, through the historical books, through the development of the prophets, through the Psalms, everything that they had been pointing toward found its fulfillment in Christ. Now that's earth-shattering to a Jew. To a Jew, it meant everything that all of their national hope was fulfilled in this one who had walked on earth as known as Jesus of Nazareth. Now beloved, here's what we need to do next as we recognize the magnitude of that confession. If it was only what Peter said here, I could understand if you thought maybe I was making too much of one text in Scripture.

That's not the case. When you read the book of Acts, beloved, you see the apostles stressing this theme everywhere in their preaching. As they preached to the Jews in different localities, they were saying this. They were saying, the man Jesus, so recently with us and walking amongst humanity, the man Jesus is the Christ of God. He is the anointed one. And I want to take you through six different passages in the book of Acts now so that you could see this theme. And sometimes it's only through an overview message like this that you can see the overarching themes that are woven into all of the book of the Bible that you might miss if you're not looking at things in a global perspective.

That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit. And here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, just before we close today's broadcast, I just wanted to give a special word of greeting and thanks to the many people that listen to our podcast internationally.

It's remarkable to me. The last report that I saw listed 83 different countries that in one way or another are listening to us. And I just want to send a special word of greeting to those of you that are in lands that are distant from my own home here in the United States.

You know, we've seen people from every continent except maybe Antarctica, and people from countries like Ireland and Australia and Singapore, Canada, the UK, India, I have friends in all of those countries. And whether you've met me face to face or whether you only know me as a voice through your favorite device, I just want to say God bless you. Thank you for your interest in the Word of God. And may the Spirit of God work deeply in your heart as you continue to study God's Word. Thank you for being with us. Thank you for your prayers. God bless you. My prayers and love are with you as well. And we'll see you next time on The Truth Pulpit. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-15 04:56:33 / 2024-05-15 05:07:35 / 11

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