Some Really Good News

Sharing Joy And Hope Found In The Good News Of The Gospel.

Ross Sawyers
Nov 21, 2021    50m
This message examines the importance and honor of sharing the joy and hope found in the Good News of the Gospel. Acts chapter 2 reminds us of the privilege that believers have of walking together, and enjoying the really Good News, and then bringing it to others. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

121 Community - Some Really Good News
Ross Sawyers: [00:00:05] Paul writes in First Thessalonians 5, he says, "Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." And so we have this week of Thanksgiving with that focus, I hope we're anchored well into that Scripture that God is the one that even gives us the idea of being thankful.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:26] A few years ago, we had a man here that spoke. His name is David Eubanks, and he leads a ministry called Free Burma Rangers, one of the most unique missionaries I think I've ever come across. He was a Special Ops guy in the military for 10 years, and then he's been on mission, rescuing people in distress in Burma, Iraq, several places in that part of the world. He trains all kinds of people in Burma to be able to do those kinds of rescues. When we had him here, we saw a clip that was on national news about him, where he had gone across enemy fire to rescue a child that was just lying in the arms of several people that had been killed. And just watching him go across the enemy fire, grab that child, and come running back. Just an amazing work of... I actually feel bad, I've thought about his kids, and I thought these kids have lived such a life of adventure with this guy, I don't know who they'll ever marry that will come anywhere close to the kind of life that they've grown up in. It's an adventure, it's an adventure for Christ that they're living.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:48] And this week in his weekly kind of newsletter or blog or whatever that he sends out, he talked about an Armenian Apostolic Church, and this is the picture that he had the very first picture in the article of that church. And these are some people associated with it, I think that's Dave there on the right. And when he started describing this church, it was destroyed by ISIS in 2018, and this is the capital for ISIS in Raqqa, Northeast Syria, where this church is. And you see it, it is, he describes it, and we can see the picture and see what he's describing, it is just concrete kind of dangling everywhere. What we can't see clearly in the picture is the unexploded mortars that are all throughout that, and there are also a number of bones from people who had been killed that were scattered among there as well, that was his descriptor of this particular church.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:02] When they saw it, his family was there, his daughter plays the guitar, and she went in and sat down in the midst of those ruins and rubble, and she started to play on her guitar a song, and the song that she played was, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. And David asked his daughter, he said, why did you choose that song? It brought tears to everyone's eyes just as she played. And she said, I just want God to be brought back here, and that's why I played that song.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:37] Well, Dave said he then prayed, and he was asking God, he said, will you rebuild this church? Will you allow this to be rebuilt again? After he prayed, he started thinking and he thought, well, there's probably not going to be any more Christians here because they've been forced to flee, and nobody's going to take the risk to rebuild this church, and he said he felt foolish that he had prayed that prayer. But then he realized that was not a foolish prayer, and he asked God, he apologized to God, he said, I just told God I was sorry, and then I prayed the same prayer again in faith. Now in 2018, when this happened, there's a need for some good news. This is a lot of bad news when you're in the midst of ISIS, and you're Christian, and you're trying to follow Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:33] And I think today, that in the same way that they needed some good news in that moment, we need some good news too. Jim Denison is a guy that I follow on his blog each week, it's The Denison Forum on Culture and Truth. And he just took one day, Wednesday, and just wrote a lot of good news, and just some good stories that are going on, there's good news that's happening all across our country and all across the world, we just have to look for it maybe a little harder than we might normally have to.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:05] But I want to just look at some really good news in Acts chapter 2 verses 21 through 28, so if you have your Bibles, I'd encourage you to open them. If you take notes, I hope, by the way, that you know there's a freedom to be able to write in your Bibles. I think that's a great place to take notes in what God is showing you, if not, journals are great, or Evernote, whatever it is that is helpful for you. And you might be using an app this morning and feel free, I just hope you'll read the scriptures with me as we go.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:36] Just to catch you up if you've not been here, or you're newer here, we always try to give a recap so that you can just get in right where we are. We're looking through the Book of Acts, we're just taking our time moving through it a few verses at a time, I want to make sure that we have a really good understanding of the church and the way it was established. And if you are ever going to help somebody, maybe this is you, you're trying to figure out where would I start when I read the Bible? I would encourage you to read Luke and then Acts. Luke is a great descriptor of Jesus's life, death, and his resurrection. And then in Acts, we see his ascension and then the start of the early church. So when you just want to get an idea of what we're about as Christians, this gives a great picture, and then you take the rest of the Bible and see how it points to all of what happens in Luke and Acts. That would be an encouragement this morning.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:32] And we're just taking our time moving through Acts. Jesus is with the disciples in chapter one of Acts, and he tells them that I'm about to ascend and you're going to receive power though when the Holy Spirit comes. You're not going to be doing things on your own, the Holy Spirit of God has not come yet, but you'll receive power when the Spirit comes, power to be my witnesses. I'm expecting you to represent me, and to speak about me, and you'll have the power to do that when the Spirit comes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:07] Jesus ascends, and then they go, and they wait in an upper room and they devote themselves to prayer with a singular mind. And just as a reminder, I've started to mention it, and I just want to make sure we're prayerful and ready to go when we start 2022. And I know you're thinking, wait a minute, can we just do Thanksgiving? But we're going to launch our year in January focused on the same way they were praying, and I'm asking all of our life groups that you spend at least half your time in prayer, not talking about prayer, but praying in the month of January. We're going to have four prayer and praise nights on Fridays in January, if you could just go ahead and put a reminder, save the date, an alert, whatever you have to do, so we can gather up at times of pray together as a church body, and then we'll do that here, we're going to teach you on prayer. So wherever you are and your walk with God, you can walk that journey with us, and we just want to seek God out as we launch into the year. You don't have to wait until then, I'm just saying that's what we're going to do when we get there, just like they were doing in Acts chapter 1.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:11] The Spirit comes in Chapter 2 in a supernatural fashion. And then Peter steps up, and we saw last week, he starts to give his first sermon. Now, this is a guy who only 50 days earlier made a major blunder in failing Jesus. Only 50 days later, he steps up and gives an unbelievable speech, a sermon, a message, a talk, whatever you want to call it, he just kind of cuts loose in the power of the Spirit. Now here's an uneducated man. but he had spent three years with Jesus, and when the Spirit comes, it's amazing what starts to fly out of somebody.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:54] Let's see what he has to say, it's really good news for us, it's really the Gospel, this is the core in verses 22 through 28 in my mind of what he says here. And I just want to break it down into three parts of some really good news. The first is, verse 22, that there's really good news in the life of Jesus, that's good news. The life of Jesus itself is good news, verse 22, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know." This is how he continues his message, it's interesting that in verse 14, he says, "Men of Judea let this be known to you, and give heed to my words." He says some things from Joel, he talks about the last days, and then he talks about the end times.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:55] And then he gets here, and he's saying, hey, listen. And the background of this word, listen, is it's urgent. This is the good news to listen to, there's a lot of things we can be listening to. but this is really good news, so he's urging them to listen to what he's saying. He says it twice within just a short period of time, it's like, hey, listen to this, I want you to listen. There's an urgency here, make sure that you hear it. And this is what he wants them to hear. Jesus, the Nazarene, he describes in this verse, Jesus's life, Jesus the Nazarene, it's where Jesus grew up, he grew up in Nazareth. And he says at the end of this verse, you yourselves know, you know this. So the people he was talking to, they knew this, this Jesus the Nazarene, the one who grew up in Nazareth, he's a man.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:02] So what we know about Jesus is that he's both God and man, this is packed theologically here. He's fully God, and he's fully man, and Peter describes him here as a man, here's the man part of who Jesus is. Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene grew up in Nazareth. He was a boy, a teenager, a twenty-something, and now he went into his thirties, and that's when they were introduced to him at a more public fashion in his ministry. He said, "This man is attested to you by God." Accredited could be that word, attested or accredited, God is the one that is giving him the status of who he is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:46] And what Peter is doing here, is he's making sure that everyone understands that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is the Savior, he's setting that pace for them. God has attested to it, he's the one that designated Jesus as the Messiah. He's a man attested to by God. How did he do it? He did it with miracles and wonders and signs. Miracles, those things that defy the natural, there are natural laws that govern our universe, and there are times that God defies those natural laws, and he moves supernaturally. He does that through wonders, and miracles, and signs.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:32] The wonders arouse our astonishment about him, and signs point to spiritual truth. Now, when we read the Gospel of John, there are seven signs that are given in the Gospel of John, seven things that Jesus does that signify spiritual truth. Now think about how astounding this is, we have the Bible, and in John, there are seven signs. At the end of John, he said, if I were to write everything that Jesus did, there wouldn't be enough books to contain it, there wouldn't be enough. We only get a small glimpse of the wonders and miracles and signs of Jesus, and yet we spend a lifetime trying to grab hold of what we were given. Imagine if we had everything that he had done, we couldn't even handle it, we couldn't even begin to grasp it. God gives us glimpses, he gives us pieces, of what Jesus did.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:40] Well, what were one of those signs that Peter would have in mind? He walked those three years with Jesus in Jesus's thirties, and what would he have seen? Well, in John chapter 2, the very first sign, that which pointed to a spiritual truth, was at a wedding. It was in Cana of Galilee, on the Sea of Galilee, that's where Cana is, and they were gathered for a wedding, a festive occasion. Wine was a prominent part of what that celebration would be, it was symbolic of the joy and abundance of what happens in those moments. But there was a problem at this wedding, and they had run out of wine, and that's a major mistake to not have enough for the guests. Well, Mary, Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus was there, his disciples were there at this wedding And Mary, she had an idea of who Jesus was and what he was about, and so she tells the servants, hey, you go to him, he'll take care of it for you. And Jesus said, do you know what, I wasn't quite ready to make myself known like this, but Mary was confident that Jesus could take care of it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:01] That's a good way to pray, by the way, just know that Jesus can take care of it, just bring it to him and leave it to him. And it looks like, I don't know where Mary went, but she just kind of said he'll handle it, and then here you go. So Jesus saw six stone waterpots over here, and he said to them they hold about 20 to 30 gallons of water, and he said to him, I want you to go fill these stone waterpots with water. And so they go and do it. He said, fill them to the brim. They fill them to the brim, and then they come back, and Jesus says now draw out of it and serve the guests. And the water had turned to wine. The person that was serving said, you know what, usually you do the good stuff first and you save the bad stuff for later, and I assume that's because maybe you're just not quite as aware a little bit later.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:05] So, what was Jesus doing here? What was he pointing to? What was the sign, what was the Spiritual truth that he was making known? Jesus did things with incredible purpose, well, Israel was spiritually barren and dry, somewhat religious, but dry. And Jesus was letting them know there's something new here, that there is a joy that's just arrived, and there is an abundant supply of that joy, and they'll start to see that unfold.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:42] When we look at the life of Jesus, it's really good news because it's a life of joy, and it's a life of power, and a life of the miraculous, and a life of wonder so that we're constantly amazed and astounded at what it is and who it is that Jesus is. Do we still see that today? Do we still see miracles and wonders and signs today? Yeah, we do, we do. We ought to, when we awaken, just look outside and that ought to cause an astonishment of what's happened.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:20] I heard something upstairs before, but it just kind of hit me here. John Piper eats breakfast with his wife, I think most mornings and they overlook Minneapolis. And one morning he awakened, and the sun rose and he said, Noel, he did it, he did it again and starts yelling. Can you just imagine your spouse just kind of, look, look what he just did, do you know what he did? He just caused the sun to rise on the good and the evil in this city, can you believe he did it again? That we should be astounded daily that he even gives us breath to breathe, the grace to live.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:01] Ramesh and Gloria Landge are friends of ours that we've partnered with in India since 2004, and I don't know that there's a time goes by that I don't see something, he wrote, where they haven't seen some kind of healing, or some kind of miraculous work that God has done. And God's very purposeful when he does does the miraculous, because the Gospel follows it, and people come to Jesus. It's not just about can I be astounded at the wonders and miracles of God? It's about drawing people to him that they might see the Savior and say, oh, what a wonder he is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:34] Oh, there's really good news just in this one piece of what Peter said in this message in the life of Jesus. But there's also good news in the death of Jesus, in verse 23, "This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. We have an interesting tension here, this is a tension that I find in most life groups that I've ever been a part of, most Bible studies I've ever sat in in, most conversations I have with people, at some point this tension becomes a part of the dialogue, when we think about God's sovereignty and human responsibility. It was God's predetermined plan that Jesus would be put to death, there's not another way to read that. Some of us people talk about predestination and predetermination and say, they don't believe it, I don't know how you cannot believe it if you read the Bible, because that's what it says, in God's foreknowledge, he knew it, predetermined plan foreknowledge, God's sovereignty.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:01] And then when I'm preaching, I try to make it we, it's not you, I'm riding here with you, this is just my role. But Peter is saying to them, you nailed him to a cross. He's making sure they feel the full weight, and the full guilt, of what they did. And guilt, by the way, is not a bad thing when it's legit guilt. If we don't have legit guilt, we're not ever going to understand our need for a Savior. He's making sure they feel the full weight, you did this, you're the one that got the Roman authorities together, you're the one that stirred up the crowds and got them into a frenzy, you're the one that was shouting, crucify him, you did this, he says.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:58] And we know it doesn't take much to stir up a crowd, I had a friend that's marched in a parade before, not a parade but one of the protests of some sort. And he got in there, he just wanted to know if people even knew how they were protesting, and he just started asking, hey, why are we here? And the answer is varied, and it's like they didn't even know. It's like, let's just get a crowd together, whip them into a frenzy, and start yelling crucify. Then he said, this is what you did. Now, before we get too hard on the Roman authorities and the crowds in that day and that we wouldn't have been there, the reality is because of our sin, you could just as easily say that we nailed him to that cross. You did, and I did, we're guilty because of our sin. There's a tension of God's sovereignty and human responsibility, human freedom, you did it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:00] The biblical writers that seem to me have no trouble with the tension. In John 6:44, Jesus says, "Unless the Father draws them, they'll not come." The Father is the one that draws us to himself. In verse 47, he says, "You have to believe to have eternal life." Somehow, there is God's divine sovereignty here, and then there's a responsibility to believe it. We struggle more with the tension than it seems the biblical writers did. God is sovereign, and somehow, we have responsibility in it as well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:42] We see something like this play out in Genesis as well. In chapter 37, or so somewhere in there, we start to see the life of Joseph unfold. And, Joseph, there's some family dynamics that are a challenge here, Joseph's dad, he's kind of playing favorites with Joseph. He has 11 brothers, they're not so fond of the idea that Joseph' getting a little better treatment than everybody else. Joseph has some dreams, his brothers don't come out so good in those dreams, they're kind of bowing down to him that usually doesn't go well and brotherly dynamics. So they concoct a plan, and they throw him in a pit, and they want him dead, they just want him out. Then they decide, why would we waste that, we can make money off of him, so they pull him out of the pit and they sell him off into slavery?

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:36] Well, then he finds himself everywhere he goes, finding favor God, he's got favor with God and people start to notice that. And so, he finally ends up in a jail because a woman seduced him, and he it wasn't on him, he ran, but then he still got falsely accused, so now he lands in jail for several years. He helps people quite a bit while he's in jail, but everybody seems to forget about him until when he's about 30. This started when he was 17, then when he was about 30, finally, he gets promoted to second in command in Egypt. This is a way I pray for our country, by the way. I pray that God will raise up men like Joseph, who will be advisers to those who are leaders in our nation? I pray that he'll raise up men like Daniel, who will be wisdom to our leaders? I pray he'll raise up women like Esther, who have the courage to stand against things when they're about to be done wrong against the people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:37] So Joseph ends up in second in command, and he does really well, and then he gets reunited with his brothers, and the story kind of unfolds. At the end of the story in Genesis 50, Joseph's dad dies, now the brothers are sweating because they're wondering, what's Joseph going to do to us now? He's been kind to us as long as our dad's been living, maybe that's because he didn't want to upset our dad. What will he do now? Well in verse 20, it's a beautiful verse on God's sovereignty and human responsibility. He said, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." See, God takes that, which looks evil and bad, and is evil and bad, and he turns around and he uses it for good. God is a God who is sovereign, and he's God who is providential, meaning he takes both the good and the bad, and he channels that for his purposes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:46] Oh, there's good news today, there's good news in the life of Jesus, and there's good news actually in the death of Jesus. Because Peter writes, in his own letter, First Peter 2:24, and he says, "And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." That's why I can say his death is good news because he bore our sins on his body on the cross.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:26] And do you know how I said we're as responsible as they are for nailing him to the cross? Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." What did Paul say? I have been crucified with Christ. We nailed him there, the good news is we're nailed there with him so that our sin dies on that cross with him. We're united with Christ in His death, we're also united with Christ in his resurrection, and in his life.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:15] There's a third piece to this, that's really good news. It's the life of Christ that's good news, it's the death of Christ that's good news, and it's the resurrection of Jesus that's good news. In Hebrews Chapter 12 verse 2 we're told to "Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." It's a joy that he went through what he went through because he could see through it to the resurrection, to the fullness of life that he would have in God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:54] Verse 24, “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power." We have the Gospel right here in 22, 23, and 24, it is as potent right here as it is anywhere in scripture. And I love what Peter says in Second Peter chapter 1 verse 12, I've been hanging out in Second Peter, and it's been so refreshing because the Bible just speaks to the reality of our world, and Second Peter just seems to sum it up so well. But one of the things that Peter says in Second Peter 1:12 is that he's going to stir them up by way of reminder. He says, I'm going to stir you up by way of reminder, even though you know it, and you've been established in the truth. And as long as I have my earthly dwelling, Peter says, I'm going to continue to stir up a reminder in you of what it is that Jesus did.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:49] What we cannot forget is the purification of sins that we received on the cross. A few years ago, I started hearing people frame it this way we need to remind ourselves of the Gospel, and I thought, OK, that's new phrasing, I really haven't heard people say that in most of my Christian life. And yet, that became common vernacular in the Christian world of reminding ourselves of the Gospel. And I said, OK, well, when we're saying that, what are we saying? And I was reading Saint Peter the other day, I love it because Peter's saying, I'm going to remind you of this, I'm going to stir it up. You're already established in the truth, but you can't hear it enough that Jesus lived this perfect and astounding life, he died on the cross, and God raised him from the dead. We need to be reminded of that, it's how we came to Jesus, it's where our salvation came, it's also how we live today. It's where our power comes today, it's being rooted in the Gospel, so we keep reminding ourselves of what it is that Jesus did for us, and that's what motivates our hearts to live for him today, so we stir up by way of reminder, and that's what we're doing here.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:54] It was a new word for them when he was preaching it right there, for us it's a reminder today, for many it might be new. But what does he say here? "God raised him up again, putting an end to the agony of death." That word agony means pain, and it means like birth pain, that's its sense here. And for those who have given birth, you know the agony of what it is to deliver a baby and the pain of that. And you know the joy when the baby arrives. He's saying. there's an end to the agony of death because we're ushered into a resurrected life. We move through death into resurrection. And we'll see it in the scripture used to support it, they'll move through it unharmed into eternity. It was impossible for him to be held in its power. By the very nature of who Christ is, who God is, it was impossible for him to be held in the power of death, so he conquered it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:25] Jesus said in Mark 9:31, he said that this would happen. He said that “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” So when we think about the resurrection, Jesus told them this was coming in, Luke 24:6, after the crucifixion, he's entombed, and then they go to look and find him on that third day. In Luke 24:6, he's risen, he's not here he is risen, he is the resurrected Christ, it's impossible for him to be held by.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:08] Paul would later write in a letter to First Corinthians about the resurrection. And Paul is writing, and he lays out the Gospel very clearly in First Corinthians 15, That Christ died, according to the Scriptures, he was buried, and that he was raised from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures. According to the Scriptures, the reliable, trustworthy Scriptures.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:40] I was at a David Crowder concert the other night, and I love that in one song, I don't even know which song it was, but said all the stories are true. It's all true, it's reliable, it's trustworthy, all the stories are true. Paul lays that out, then, he says. I'm the most unlikely apostle of all because I was a persecutor of the Church of God, I hated it, I persecuted it. And yet, by God's grace, I'm his. And I'll labor all the more now, but not me, it's his grace in me.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:31] And then they were questioning whether the dead could be resurrected? Could we be resurrected? And he responds like this, he says, "If there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain." What we do here, this is vain, it's empty, he says. And then he says, and your faith is vain if that's true. If there's no resurrection of the dead, then your faith is empty and vain. And then he goes on to say that "If the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.". Not only is it vain and empty, but it’s also a worthless faith, if Christ has it been resurrected. See, we're not talking about just believing in God, we're not talking about, we can kind of chuck the resurrection and love the teachings of Jesus. Paul is saying, "Your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. there's actually no hope because you're still stuck in your sin."

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:37] And then he says, "Those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished." So if we actually think there's a heaven, and that we move from this life to that one as Christians, if Christ wasn't raised, then they've perished all the ones who've gone before us. And, "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." If there's no resurrection, then we're the most to be pitied for the life we're living. But we don't have to be pitied today because the resurrection is true, and it is fact. And Paul, in Philippians 3:10, his desire was, "That he might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:32] We are in union, we've been raised up with him, Colossians 3:1 says. So we are in union with Christ in his death, and we're in union with Christ and we're raised up with him, it's our dead hearts are made alive in him, we're united with him, and when we're in union with him, then we're also in union with his life. So his life, a life of power, is the life that flows through our life. So there's a union we have with Christ in his life, his death, and his resurrection.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:02] Now, look what Peter did here, he supports his assertion about the resurrection with Scripture. He talks about Joel in the first part of his message, the primary piece of it is quoting Joel. Now, he's quoting Psalm 16:8-11, he's anchored to scripture, he knows who he's speaking to. He knows they revere the scripture, and he now is supporting what he's saying through the scripture. In the same way, when we speak of Christ, we support an anchor with scripture.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:40] Now, sometimes we may have to start where someone is in the culture if they don't believe the scriptures like Paul did Acts 17 when he saw all these altars to gods and then he saw one to an unknown God, and he used that as a way to start talking to them about the true God. He also quoted their poets, all the things in the culture he used to bridge that gap, to then talk about who the known God is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:10] What does that say about today? Some people have scripture, and we can anchor ourselves to that to give support and let them see the truth of who Christ is. We always want to end up there, sometimes we can start a little quicker. Other times, though, here's a question of our cultural day, we can't know truth. Well, that's no different than Acts 17, it's an altar to an unknown god. Can I not start with someone to bridge that gap and say, you know what, I know that you say there's no truth and it can't be known, can I take a shot at it because I can tell you the truth can be known? And truth is actually in a person, it's in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who declared himself to be the resurrection in the life, the way, the truth, and the life. The truth is in a person, in a relationship, you can know him, and you can know truth.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:12] So I love what Peter does here, he's taking them back to what they revere about the Scripture, I wonder how he even knew to do this, except for he had been with Jesus for three years. In Luke 24, we see that Jesus explains himself from the Scriptures, Peter had been hanging out with Jesus, and I wonder if he thought he was capable? Most of us don't think we're capable of actually telling someone else this good news about Jesus, we think we won't know what to say, we think they're going to ask us questions we can't answer. And they might, by the way, I've found, I don't know, to be my best friend. Yeah, that's a great question, I don't know, but let's go figure it out. Peter seems to have been well versed in the Scriptures, he'd been with Jesus for all those years, the Holy Spirit had come, and now that just seems to be flowing out of him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:29] I want to encourage parents, grandparents today, if you've poured God's word into your kids, it's in there, and the Spirit of God breathes life into that word. And when we get in conversation with somebody, you never really know what's in there or not because you've been listening to sermons, you've sat in life groups, you've had conversations, you've read God's word on your own, you'd be amazed at what's sitting in there if you just surrender yourself to God and let the Spirit of God moved through you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:01] That's what's happening here, there is no way Peter thought he'd be quoting Joel, and the Psalms, and tying them to the prophecies of who Jesus is. He takes this Psalm and it's 25-28, he's quoting that Psalm 16, “For David says of Him, ‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. 26‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; 27BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY." We know that David is writing something here that's a messianic prophecy because David is still in his grave, he didn't come out of the grave. And what he's saying here is, is your Holy One will not undergo decay, Jesus is that holy one, he moved through death, and he moved through death unharmed. And what Jesus did here, "He MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’ When he's writing this about Jesus, he's saying, look, I know the ways of life through you, God, and you're going to make me full of gladness with your presence. That's good news, I'm going to be present with you, God, and that's good news.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:10] Now I love Psalm 16:11, it's one of my favorite verses, and I tend to think about it for myself, not that Jesus was the one that was talking about this and the joy he was about to have as he moves through death into that resurrected life in all eternity with his Father again, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." See, we have a culture that is lustful for pleasure and joy, and culture is after the right thing, we should all be after pleasure and joy, the human heart is designed that way. The cultural problem is it's chasing that pleasure and joy in places that will end up in disaster, hazardous, in concrete ruins, with unexploded mortars everywhere. But there is a joy and a satisfaction that's in Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:17] I was eating lunch with a friend the other day and we were talking about, he brought up and mentioned, something about C.S. Lewis. And Lewis talked about, our relationship with God as a divine dance. And Timothy Keller writes and expounds on some of what Lewis said, when we think about the Triune God Father Son and the Spirit, think about a divine dance between them and the triunity of God. And that there for all eternity has been a mutual joy, a mutual gladness, a mutual self-giving, a mutual glorying, there's a deferring. When we think about ourselves, we tend to orbit around ourselves, self-centeredness taints everything. And in a dance, it's hazardous to become the center of the dance, it's hazardous as humans, when someone tries to lead that's not supposed to lead.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:33] Our men's retreat speaker last week, he said he's been trying to teach his 15-year-old daughter how to dance, and he said the problem is she wants to lead, and we keep running into each other, and it doesn't work. Then he said that's the problem with us and the Holy Spirit of God, we keep wanting to lead instead of allowing the Spirit to lead and being in step with Him. And Lewis, when he talks about the Divine Dance says, you know, people think that God's trying to get something from us. See, God's not trying to get something from us, he already has infinite joy and infinite happiness in the triunity of the Father, Son, and Spirit, what he's doing is giving us something. So when we're invited to worship and praise and thank him, the very essence of glorifying someone is to recognize the beauty for what it is, and we simply honor it because of the beauty and we appreciate it because of what it is, and God himself is that beauty. We've been made, Lewis says, for the dance. God is giving us something, and he knows that our joy and our pleasure and our gladness will come when we receive the invitation into the dance, and we follow him in his lead.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:10] Jesus, he's looking forward to the fullness of the gladness of being in the presence of God. And for every person that believes on Jesus, we're invited into the dance that we were made for. If you know him, I hope you're enjoying the dance. If you're curious or a skeptic, could I ask you may be a different way to go at your curiosity and skepticism? What if you read the Bible as David Crowder describes it in his song? What if you just tried reading this as if it's true, and see what God does? See if you might become a part of that dance and find the joy and pleasure you're seeking. Oh, that we might all be motivated by this pleasure and joy that's in the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:13] Well, David Eubank prayed that prayer of apology to God, and then he prayed in faith that God would rebuild that church. As soon as he prayed that prayer in 2018, a man came up to him and said, what are you doing here? And Dave said we came here to help and to pray, and that man said, I'm trying to rebuild this church. I'm an Armenian Christian, I've been shot four times by ISIS, but I brought my family back to rebuild this church. There once were five thousand of us here, now there's 15 Christians, and we're here to rebuild it. And when Dave Eubank wrote that article, he said the church now is rebuilt, people are coming, and they're loving, and they're growing, and this is the church that just got finished. We sang a song earlier about beauty from ashes, this is what God does with human hearts, he takes the rubble and the unexploded mortar and the dry bones, and he makes something beautiful out of it, that's the grace of God. And this was built not just by a few Christians, but by different ethnicities, different faiths, different religions. One Arab sheik said the Christians gave us shelter when we needed it, and now we're so glad to help them by rebuilding this church. Christians run into the plague, Christians run to the hard places, Christians move to the dark places, and bring light, and relief, and help, and the Gospel, and good news where there's nothing but bad news. What a privilege we get to walk together, to enjoy that really good news, and then to bring it to others.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:37] Father, thank you today for the power of your word, God. Thank you for Peter and for taking some normal guy and empowering him by your Spirit and strengthening him from your word, and then just the boldness to deliver it. Today, God, I pray we would feel that if we're in a spot where we've not said yes to Jesus, I pray, God, that we'd feel the full weight and guilt of what it is to be sinful and opposed to you. And then, Father, in this, realize that you can take that rubble and that mess and that you can build that into something beautiful. So, God, I pray you'll take human hearts that are messed up, and instead God make something beautiful out of them as you've done again and again and again.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:31] Father, thank you for your life, thank you for your death, thank you for your resurrection, Jesus. And thank you that we have hope today beyond this life that we will be resurrected from the dead. Thank you that you've already taken our dead hearts and made us alive, and there's that potential for others, God. And, Father, I thank you that in all of this, you've invited us into a divine dance, to be a part of the divine joy, the infinite joy, and that you're giving us something and giving us a privilege and an opportunity and something to be a part of. Father, I pray we'd find it in you today, that we'd find our joy and our pleasure in you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:10] Help us, Father, in this Thanksgiving week to be grateful all week long for who you are and what you've done, and to quickly share that good news so others might at least have it to consider it. And I pray that in Jesus' name.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:24] So let's be quiet before the Lord, and whatever it is he might be saying to you today, let's let that kind of rest so that you might be able to walk in obedience to it. If you need help with anything we'll be available to be that help. Let's just be quiet before Him.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051