Flemingsburg Baptist Church Youth Group

Love God, Love People, Serve the World Starting One Home at a Time.

Category: Topical Studies

Dare to Trust (Acts 27) Day 5 of VBS



What a ride! This week has been an exciting adventure as we have barreled down the tracks, over the hills, through the turns, and around the loops at Colossal Coaster World with the study of Paul’s life.  It has been a fun week that has been packed with learning about trusting God and facing fears.

Paul was surrounded by a ship full of scared sailors on a wild water ride.  Instead of panicking, he expressed his confidence that no matter how God worked out the details, God would work on their behalf!

Today, we will finish everything that we have learned all week to know that they have learned all week to know that they can trust God no matter what.  With God’s power, they can overcome anything!  Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and hopefully you all have seen a glimpse of Jesus this week as well.

Read Acts 27

Paul had no idea what was coming at him when he boarded a ship to Rome.  He did know that the season for sailing was coming to an end and advised the crew to take shelter during winter months.

He was ignored.  Soon the ship was swamped by a storm called a northeaster.  Even the seasoned sailors feared for their lives as they reinforced the boat with ropes and tackle.  Unable to see sun, stars, or light at the end of the tunnel, the terrified men to take courage.  Paul shared the news that an angel had appeared to him with the good news that the crew would survive.  God had a plan for Paul to preach in Rome.  Paul believed that come high water or horrible weather, God intended to carry out that plan!  He declared, I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me! (Acts 27:25)

Paul was a model of confidence to his scared shipmates.  How about you?  Is your faith unshakable when life is uncertain?  Will your confidence in God be catching to your friends at School.  We have confidence in God because he promises us for us to live is Christ and for us to die is gain.  So no matter what happens to us in this world, if we are a true believer we can trust that God will use it for our good and His Glory.


Dare to Stand Up (Acts 21:27-23:11) Day 4 of VBS

CaptureHave you ever felt like you are on a Tilt-a-Whirl and cannot get off?  That may describe our lives sometimes.  Often, life feels out of control, as if we are being twirled about and spun around.

In today’s bible story, Paul’s life seemed out of control, an angry mob wanted to kill him!  But Paul stood strong and learned to display self-control and sound judgment.

Today, we will discuss many real-life scenarios and how we can learn to honor God with our actions, too.  Even in difficult situations, we can trust God to help them respond wisely by having self-control and sound judgment.

Read Acts 21:27-23:11

Paul was a master at thinking quickly and acting wisely, tailoring his approach to his particular audience.  In today’s Bible Story, the crowds were an angry crowd of Jews in Jerusalem.  When Paul was taken into custody by the Roman Soldiers, instead of panicking, he asked for permission to face his persecutors.

Paul quickly considered the best way to address the people, in their own language, with references to his own Jewish background.  His speech was not a tirade; it was a testimony.  He explained how one moment on the Damascus road changed his life.  And for a while, the people listened.

When soldiers took him to the barracks, Paul respectfully revealed the news that he was a Roman Citizen, legally entitled to a trial.  His action halted the beating that was about to take place.

When he was presented as a prisoner to the Sanhedrin, Paul cleverly used his knowledge of their philosophical preferences to his advantage.  The Pharisees firmly believed in the resurrection of the dead.  The Sadducees firmly did not.  The ensuing argument enabled Paul to extricate himself from his own trial. (Acts 23:8)

Paul’s wise and self-controlled actions furthered his opportunities to share Jesus.  Would your classmates consider you a wise and self-controlled believer?  In a really long line at Kings Island, when your brother or sister are acting up, do you display wisdom, patience, and self-control?  Where does wisdom, patience, and self-control come from?

Dare to Believe (Acts 16:16-34) Day 3 of VBS

CaptureIn today’s Bible story, Paul and Silas first reaction to being thrown in jail was to praise and worship God!  Is that naturally your response in a difficult situation?  Most likely, it is not a typical response for anyone.  We tend to trust in whatever the latest celebrity or whatever is popular says is best.  But all of those things fade away within time.

In today’s Bible story, the jailer recognized that he was helpless to save himself.  Paul and Silas gladly showed him the way out of his sin, Jesus!

Today we will hear that the only plan they can trust is God’s plan of salvation.  Jesus Christ is the only way to live eternally with God.  Not only can we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, Savior, and Treasure, but we can also share His love with others!

Read Acts 16:16-34

Paul and Silas were sharing good news about the Savior in Philippi.  Paul drove out the evil spirit that was controlling a fortune-telling slave girl, which also drove out the income potential for her owners.  The owners quickly pressed charges.  Paul and Silas were beaten, chained, and jailed.  Then the messengers in manacles began to sing praises to God.

However, the music was interrupted by a rock concert, the noise of an earthquake rocking the jail off its foundations!  The jailer, who would have been required to serve the sentences of any escaped prisoner, decided death would be preferred.  Although it was pitch dark, Paul knew what the jailer was about to do and called out to stop him.  The jailer asked, What must I do to be saved?

The jailers first fear was for his own life.  However, he soon realized that Paul and Silas had a message he wanted to hear.  Paul seized the moment to explain how to be permanently, irreversibly saved from the penalty of sin.  The jailer dared to put his future in the hands of Jesus.  What did the jailer do next, once he received this good news of Jesus Christ?  He went and told his family.  See when Jesus saves you it influences those around you, you have to tell everyone about it because that is where your treasure is.

Today, you too can be like the jailer and accept the good news of Jesus Christ.  Admit you are a sinner.  Believe that Jesus died to take the punishment for your sin and accept the gift of salvation.  Confess Jesus as you Lord, Savior, and Treasure.

So we have two questions we need to look at in this passage.  First, Paul and Silas was in chain and in prison, but who was really in chains?  The guard was in bondage of sin, while although in physical chain Paul and Silas were free to sing hymns and pray.

Second, who was really set free?  The physical chains were broken, but it was the guard and his family that experienced true freedom that night.

Now it is important to point out that if Paul and Silas had left that the guard would have to pay their penalty for them.  That is exactly what Jesus did for us.  We deserved to be punished for our sins, we deserved God’s wrath, we deserved to be left in the bondage of sin, but Jesus came and loved us so much that He took the penalty for all those that repent of their sins and believe in Him as their Lord, Savior, and Treasure.

Dare to Speak Up (Acts 9:20-30) VBS Day 2


How difficult is it to tell others about Jesus?  In Paul’s case, there were many who wanted to kill him, but he continued to speak up boldly about God!  And then there was Barnabas, he did not waste time wondering what people would think when he defended Paul.  He went directly to the Jerusalem Christians and affirmed that this formerly fierce enemy of Christ was now a faithful follower!

In our world today we face a lot of pressure: to fit in, to be popular, to do what is right, to dress a certain way.  It is difficult for us to be bold enough and daring enough to speak up about God to our classmates, neighbors, and even family.

However, we see that in our passage today God is calling us to dare to speak up because the good news of Jesus Christ is more valuable than our reputation and is worth risking everything to tell someone about Jesus.  Today you will discover that God has given you power, His power, to do what you cannot do in your own strength.

Read 9:20-30

Paul delivered his first message about Jesus in Damascus, the same city as we learned yesterday that he originally intended to arrest people for believing in Jesus Christ.  Acts 10:20 says, Paul began to share his faith immediately.  And what he said astounded and confounded his listeners.  Why would Paul’s message confuse and seem unbelievable to his listeners?

Paul did not wait to speak until he knew everything about following Jesus.  He simply shared what he did know at that time.  And as he shared, Paul became more capable.  So capable that the Jews in Damascus planned to kill him, to stop his message because Paul was being so effective.  A late-night “thrill ride” in a basket delivered him safely out of the city.

Paul found nothing but cold shoulders and hot tempers when he returned to Jerusalem.  The believers there were leery of his intentions.  A believer named Barnabas bravely spoke up for Paul and assured that Paul had experienced a life change.  Accepted as a true believer, Paul tried to assist the Jerusalem believers with their ministry, and again, found out that now the Greek Jews wanted to kill him.

For safety, Paul’s friends shipped him back to his hometown Tarsus.  Did Paul quit telling about his new life in Christ to protect himself, his reputation, and his life?  What about you?  Is the good news of Jesus Christ so valuable to you that you will risk everything in order to tell others about Him?

Our goal today is not to imply that following or speaking about Jesus is always easy.  Sometimes it is not.  The goal of today’s Bible study is to help us understand that the same power that gave Paul the courage to speak is available to believers who pray and obey  You, too, can speak boldly about Jesus.  And that is our goal today is to Dare to Speak Up about Jesus Christ.

Pray that God will open up your eyes that you will see how valuable Jesus is so that you will not be able to help yourself to others about what Jesus Christ has done for you in your life.

Dare to Change (Acts 9:1-18) VBS Day 1

Change is scary, whether it is on a roller coaster and you are going from really high to really low, or from really slow to really fast, change can be scary.  That is what we see in our lives as well, change of grades, change of homes, change of friends, change of teachers, change of teams, and coaches can be scary.

Do you all like change?  Sometimes it is good and sometimes it can be scary.  And that is what we see many times in the Bible.  We see that many adventures in the Bible often begin with a radical change of where they live, of habits, or of circumstances.  In today’s Bible story, God requires two men to turn their beliefs and behavior up-side down so that Paul’s mission could begin.  Because both of them were willing to change the world was changed.

Today we will learn how to trust in God that he will keep you secure and settled no matter what is going on around you.  God is your seat belt keeping you safe as you go through this world of changes.

Verses 9:1-2

Here we see that Paul probably would have won the award for person less likely to become a Christian, or less likely to change at all as far as that is concerned.  The first time he appears in Acts, he was holding the coats for the mob who stoned a believer to death.  Paul was breathing threats, it is a though persecution was the air he breathed.  Paul’s hatred of those that followed Jesus, carried 150 miles toward Damascus.  He was armed with legal documents giving him the right to arrest those who dared to challenge his beliefs.

Verses 3-9

Jesus had other plans.  In a flash of blinding light, He demanded that Paul change direction, not geographically, but spiritually.  Paul did not resist Jesus- he yielded to Him.  And because of Paul’s ministry and writing, the world was changed.

Verses 10-18

However, Paul is not the only person in this story that resisted change.  God spoke to the believer Ananias and asked him to minister to a man who could destroy him.  Do you think that Ananias was excited about doing this?  No, but God gently tugged Ananias toward obedience by giving him a glimpse of Paul’s mission.  This man is my chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles, kings, and sons of Israel.

Therefore, today, we are encouraged to dare to change.  But not just any change, but to be willing to take risks for the Glory of God.  Two questions, from this passage, who can be changed?  So what God wants us to see in this conversion is that the most unlikely people can be converted and are converted.  Second, who do we share the good news of Jesus with?  Just like Ananias, we are to be bold in our witness, risking our lives in order to do what God has called us to do.  And what has God called us to do?  He has called us to go and make disciples of all the nations.

Easter Sunday School Lesson

Outline of Message

Apologetics simply means defending  the faith.

We Need to defend our faith for two reasons.

  1. So that we are strong in our faith and will not be easily deceived.
  2. So that we are able to give a good  answer when others searching have questions for us about our faith.

Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus:

  1. The Origin of the Disciples Belief in the Resurrection
    1. What brought about the change of attitude?
    2. What caused them to be willing to lay down their lives to tell others about this Jesus?
  2. The Post-Mortem Appearances of Jesus.
    1. It could not be their faith that caused a vision because they had none.
    2. It could not be a Dream because they all experienced him and touched him.
  3. The Evidence of the Empty Tomb.
    1. Those that opposed the disciples did not say the tomb is not empty, but accuse them of stealing Jesus’ Body.
      • Why would they steal it?
      • Where would they put it?
      •  Why would they get themselves killed over a lie?
    2. Some say he was not really dead.
    • Romans were proficient killers.
    • No one is going to believe Jesus resurrected if he is limping around bleeding everywhere.

Top Ten Apps for Spiritual Growth

1.       You Version Bible

There are other good versions available such as Logos and Blue Letter, but this is my favorite.  You can change versions easily and lots of options on Bible Reading plans.


2. The Theology Program Credo House

This is my favorite app and the only one that will cost you money.  It is seminary at your fingertips.  This is not a substitute for seminary, because I believe it is impossible to learn ministry behind a computer screen.  But for those who would love to take a formal class in theology but didn’t have the time or opportunity, this is something to consider.  You may not agree with every jot and tittle presented, but you will find it a great way to learn the basics of theology and to explain what you believe and why you believe it.


3.       Got Questions?

Do you have a question about God, Jesus, the Bible, or theology?  Have you ever needed help understanding a Bible verse or passage?  Are there any spiritual issues in your life for which you need advice or counsel?  Again, this is not to be a substitute for your Pastor, if you have questions that you are dealing with I would love to discuss it and help you work through it.  However, this is a great resource if you need a question answered quickly or to help you double check what I say is accurate and to see other point of views.  For example, I had the question if we that believe the Bible only believe the earth is at the most 10k years old, how can we see light from stars millions of light years away?  I did not know the answer and did not have any resources to go to, but the website was able to help me get put back on the right direction.

4.       Twitter

Surprise!  This social networking app can help you grow spiritually if you follow the right people.  However, beware of the false profiles and you do not have to follow everyone that follows you.  If you keep who you follow clean, then this can be a very encouraging and informative tool to help you grow spiritually.  I will make a separate post later to give you an idea of who are the best pastors to follow, but until then here is a link to my profile where you can see who I follow here.

Here is a link to an article by Thom Rainer on how Twitter has made him a better leader.

5.       itunes U

This is an app that provides you the ability to get into theclass rooms at the leading universities across the country for free.  This can help you grow spiritually because there are some seminaries that put their class on here for you to view.


Westminister Theological Seminary: Many notable guests such as Francis Schaeffer, Mark Dever, John Piper and D.A. Carson, also has notable Professors such as Sinclair Ferguson and David Powlison.

Reformed Theological Seminary:  This one is my favorite although it is a Presbyterian seminary.  My favorite course is the History and Theology of the Puritans by JI Packer.  If you want to grow like Christ then you have much to learn from the Puritans.  Other notable professors:   D.A. Carson (The New Perspective on Paul), Wayne Grudem, John Frame, and Alistair Begg (A Seminar on Expository Preaching).

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary:  John Stott Lectures

Dallas Theological Seminary:  Although I do not agree with the school on some issues, I found the course Leadership Dynamics by Howard Hendricks to be helpful.


6.       Fighter Verses

A great app to help you memorize scripture.  You get a new verse each week and helps that will provide an easier way to memorize scripture.

Watch video Here.


7.       The Desiring God

A great app that provides you the ability to watch or read almost every sermon John Piper has given in his great ministry.  Also, book and articles that he has written.

Watch Video Here.


8.       Vimeo

This is an app that is similar to YouTube, but allows longer videos so now you watch sermons.  And my favorite channel to watch on here is the Southern Seminary channel.  On this channel you can watch past chapels and conferences.  I also keep up with Valley View Church on with this app, which is a great blessing to Kaley and I since that church meant so much to us while we were in Louisville.

9.      Ask Pastor John

Great app for those who have questions about the Christian life, from the simple to deep theological questions get answered here.  You can Email your own questions to AskPastorJohn@desiringGod.org

10.   Podcasts

With this app you can listen or watch sermons from the best preachers from all across the country.

A list of my favorites Can be seen here


A Call to Plan. Sermon Given 1/6/2013


What I would like to do here is to try to persuade you to set aside time each week in the coming year to plan—and specifically to plan your life of prayer and devotion and ministry.

That’s right I said your ministry.  We all are called into the ministry.  When Jesus told us to go and make disciples.  He meant everyone.  There are people in your life that BJ & I will never be able to reach for Christ, but God has placed them in your life for a reason.  For you to be a witness to them.

The same Holy Spirit that works inside of pastors also works in you and the same Bible that we preach to you is available to you.  The Gospel that we preach to you is the same Gospel that you will share with others.

We Pastors might be able to define the Gospel a little clearer, but we will never be able to preach a better Gospel than the same one you received from Jesus Christ.  The bulldozer of God’s Spirit often arrives at the scene of our heart ready to begin some great work of building, and he finds that due to poor planning there are piles of disordered things in his way.  I am afraid that one of the reasons why this community is 85% unreached is because Christians have failed to plan.  I believe that the Spirit of God wants to move on this place, but We are not ready for Him.

The way I hope to motivate you to do this is to give four examples of planning in the Bible.  First, some illustrations from the Proverbs; second, the planning of the apostle Paul; third, the planning of God; and fourth, the planning of Jesus.


In other words, we see that not all goals are equal.  It is not good enough to have goals, but that those goals help you get more joy out of your relationship with God so that you in return will be able to glorify Him more.


What makes this especially significant is that as far as we know the plan fell through.  He was arrested in Jerusalem.  He went to Rome as a prisoner and probably never got to Spain. It’s just like we saw in the Proverbs.  God is the one who finally makes the future.  But we plan nevertheless.  God uses our planning even if he aborts it.

For example, if Paul had not planned to use Rome as a base of operations for a trip to Spain, he probably never would have written the greatest letter the world has ever known—the letter to the Romans. Planning is crucial in Christian living and Christian ministry—even when God overrules our planning.

And we all probably have similar examples, when I was planning on becoming a physical therapist, God still used that degree to get me into seminary.  When we had planned on getting done with seminary as fast as possible and returning home to Knoxville.  But God used my planning and preparation to fill a position in Flemingsburg at just the right time.


The ultimate reason for planning is that God is a God who plans and we are created in his image to exercise dominion in the earth under his lordship.

I do not think it is even possible to conceive a God who does not act according to his own eternal planning—that is, a God who has knee jerk responses to circumstances rather than deliberate actions that fit into a wise purpose.

When Adam failed in the garden, it did not catch God by surprise.  Jesus entering this world to die for our sins was not plan B.  When the Romans lifted His Son on the Cross, it was not God just trying to make the most of a bad decision.  No, from the beginning of time, God prepared a way for you to be able to come to Him and be forgiven of your sins, because he loves you.  He loves you so much, that it looks like he hates his one and begotten Son by comparison.

5 6

Make Planning a Regular Part of Your Life

But it won’t work just to plan something tonight or tomorrow.  Planning must be a regular part of your life.  When I make my goals for the year I fold them and place them in the book that I am reading that way, I am able to look frequently at my goals to see if I am accomplishing what I had set out to accomplish for the year.  If you only look at your goals once then you will most likely never achieve them unless you are setting the bar too low.

So my plea to you is that you set aside time each week to plan, especially to plan your life of prayer and Bible study.  For example, since Sunday is the first day of the week (not the last day of the weekend!) and belongs to the Lord, take ten or fifteen minutes each Sunday and think through when you will pray and what you will study that week.  Give some thought how God might want to use you that week in a special way.  Plan the emails you need to write, the Bible verses you want to memorize, the visit you want to make, the book you want to read, the neighbor you want to talk to, etc.

The Proverbs teach us to plan.  The greatest missionary who ever lived was a planner.  God is a God who does all things according to plan.  And Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem because of the most loving plan ever devised.

He planned for our joy; we ought to plan for his glory.

Now as we plan for our time of invitation, I want to be clear.  My message this evening is not try harder by your own will power to be a better person in 2013, but to put yourself in position to be used mightily and supernaturally by God this year.  God promises that our work for Him will not go in Vain; it might not go as we planned, but it will go for His glory and our good.

How to Fight Temptation (Gen 3 & Matthew 4)

–          So from the very beginning we see that the enemy is more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

  • Why is that important for us to know?
    • It is important because if we try to defeat the enemy with our own wits and intellect we will fail every time.

–          In order to know how to defeat an enemy you first need to know how the enemy is attacking.

–          Here we see that that Eve passes the first test.  The enemy comes and challenges God’s Word and Eve responds by quoting God’s Word back to him.

–          This is important for us to know because here we see that we have to know God’s Word in order to save us from falling into temptation.

  1. We all are bent towards thinking that we are the most important being in the universe.
  2. Illustration of how our frustrations and anger shows how we believe we could be a better god.
  3. The irony of the serpent’s remarks should not be overlooked. The couple, unlike the serpent, has been made in the image of God (1:26–27). In this way they are already like God. Moreover, being in the image of God, they are expected to exercise authority over all the beasts of the field, which includes the serpent. By obeying the serpent, however, they betray the trust placed in them by God. This is not merely an act of disobedience; it is an act of treachery. Those who were meant to govern the earth on God’s behalf instead rebel against their divine King and obey one of his creatures.

  1. Up to this point in history, Eve had barely even noticed the tree that they were not to eat from.
  2. They were not lacking anything; therefore, they had no needs that could be met by adding this one fruit to their diet.
  3. This all changes when it is promised to make her wise.  Now all the other fruit in the garden appears to be dull and nothing will satisfy her, but the forbidden fruit.

In this passage, we also get a glimpse of how men and women will act differently towards temptation.

–          God has created men to be Leaders, Protectors, and Providers.

–          However, what do we find Adam doing in this passage?

–          That is right you almost forget Adam is there, but we know that he is there because he takes of the fruit in verse 6.

–          Here we see that in the face of temptation men will be tempted to respond with passivity.

–          That is why the enemy first goes to Eve to tempt her, he is challenging God’s created order.

Christianity is not a spectator sport.  It is something in which we become totally involved.  And we know this to be true, we do not become better at football by sitting on the sidelines watching the game, we get better by training and participating.

Passivity is one of the main enemies of biblical masculinity and it is most obvious where it is needed most.  It is a pattern of waiting on the sidelines until you are specifically asked to step in.  Even worse than that, it can be a pattern of trying to duck out of responsibilities or to run away from challenges.  Men who think conflict should be avoided, or who refuse to engage with those who would harm the body of Christ or their family, not only model passivity but also fail in their responsibilities as protectors.  If our sinful desires are allowed to run wild, then it will ultimately destroy human beings.  Not only yours, but also those around you as we see in our passage today.  (Stinson & Dumas, 2011)

Summary of Genesis 3:1-6

–          Here we see that Adam was tempted in paradise, but failed, Jesus will be tempted in the harshness of the wilderness, but was victorious.

Could Jesus have sinned?

–          By a show of hands who thinks Jesus could have sinned, now who thinks that Jesus could not have sinned?  Well you both would be right.  Jesus is fully man therefore he was fully tempted.  However, Jesus is fully God, therefore, God cannot be tempted.  To help you get your brain around this difficult truth, I want you to think of someone that you love most on this earth.  Now I want you to picture imagine that someone wants you to murder them.  Although you could physically murder them, at the same time it would be impossible for you ever to do it.

  1. Jesus beats this temptation by using Deuteronomy 8:3 which shows us that spiritual nourishment is more significant than physical nourishment.

  1. In the second temptation (Mt. 4.5-7) Satan misapplied Scripture (Ps. 91.11,12) in an attempt to get Jesus to jump from the highest point of the temple as a means to test God’s faithfulness to His word, i.e., to protect Jesus from physical harm.  The main point of this temptation is to show us that God is not to be tested concerning his faithfulness.
  2. Jesus refused to create an artificial situation to test the faithfulness and protection of God.  His reply teaches us that the Son of God would live in a relationship of trust that needs no tests.  Jesus rested in the shelter of the Father’s unshakeable security.
  3. Adam and Eve fail to trust in God’s Word for their good, Jesus affirms God’s Word and His goodness by not even needing to put it to the test.

  1. Adam and Eve were tempted to be as wise as God, Jesus is tempted to exchange the end-time exaltation by the Father for a right-now exaltation of a snake.
  2. We too need to compare our eternal joy that God offers us with the short-term pleasures that the world offers.

Summary of Matthew 4:1-11

–          Jesus not only faces the same temptations that we face and that Adam faced in the garden, he defeats them while being physically weak from the wilderness.

So we have answered the questions Why is There Evil in this World and Why Does Temptation Even Exist?

–          We know that evil exists in this world because the sin of Adam separated us from God and allowed sin to come into this world.

–          We know that we are tempted because the problem is not that we sin, the problem is that we are sinners.

–          The reason why some of us keep falling back into sin is because we keep trying to deal with sin as a verb instead of sin as a noun.  We try to fix a particular sin, instead of trying to change our hearts.

What can be done to fix it?

–          Adam was the first man and failed when he was tempted causing all humanity to inherit his sinful nature.

–          Jesus is the new man and is victorious against temptation and provides a way for all humanity to come back into the right standing with God.

So what is the main point of this message?  Try harder at not being a sinner? 

No, this message is not a self-help sermon on how to defeat temptation and sin. 

–          I am not calling us to legalism because legalism says God will love you if you change.  I am calling you to respond to the Gospel, because the Gospel says I will change you because I love you.

–          Asking you to defeat sin with your own will power is impossible because we face a war on 3 fronts.  We are tempted to sin by our own flesh, we are tempted to sin by the world, and we are tempted to sin by the enemy.

God Has Power Over Death (John 20) VBS Day 4

Lesson: Jesus is Alive (John 20)

By any standards, the disciples were in complete shambles.  One of them the betrayer, Judas, was already dead, a suicide.  The unofficial spokesman of the group Peter, the one that had declared to Jesus that although everybody my run away and hide although everyone might desert Christ that he never would.

Yet, he had failed, not just three times, but the last to the questioning of a young slave girl just hours before.  We now see that this rugged brave fisherman, that just a few hours before was taking on the guards that was to take Jesus, was now cowering before a young slave girl and denying that he has ever known Christ.

And as for the rest of the disciples, to go and look for them you would discover a rejected and paralyzed company, they had enough players left for a football team, but they would have been an easy team to beat.  There was no heart in them at all.  They were huddled together for fear that the opponents of Christ might come now to get them.  Although it would be highly unlikely since they were such an unspirited bunch.  Their wind was out of their sails they were not going anywhere.

On the way up to Jerusalem, Jesus made it clear to them that He needed to suffer and die in Jerusalem.  And that on the third day that he would rise from the dead.  But they just did not get it.

Whatever, hopes and dreams they might have shared had been dashed and broken by the events that had so recently taken place.  When they had removed themselves from the scene, they had looked at one another and said well it was fun while it lasted.  But it is over now, and in a Palestinian tomb this great story of salvation had apparently come to a grinding conclusion.

See these men had no concept of a messiah that would come and die nor did they have a concept of a messiah that would rise from the dead.  Their Jewish background was as such that the story that they had understood was that when the messiah had appeared He would reign forever.  So how could it possibly be that Jesus was the messiah when he was so clearly not remaining forever?

He was gone.  And they said to one another we had our hopes that he was the one to redeem the people of Israel but apparently not.  And of the occasion that we read of in John chapter 20 they still had no way of grasping the fact from the Bible that this empty tomb was significant in relationship to the identity of Jesus Christ.

And then you allow the clock to tick and pages in the Bible to turn and you go out just seven weeks, and in just 49 days everything has changed.  These same men, this paralyzed crew, this dejected bunch, are now back out on the streets of Jerusalem.  It would be one thing if they had covered up their shame and are now back at work, back to tax collecting or back to fishing or back to doing whatever a zealot does.

However, it was not what they were doing at all.  They were actually back on the streets declaring to the people that God had raised this Jesus to life and as Peter would say we are all witnesses of the fact.  You could ask anyone of us and we would be able to tell you that this Jesus who you crucified, God has made both Lord and Christ.

Now the question is obvious to any thinking person,

What was it that turned these men from fear to feat?

What was it that transformed their paralysis to such an embolden expression of power?

What was it that took what seemed to be a Friday evening catastrophe, and turned it into a Sunday morning victory?

And what I want to suggest to you is that when you examine the circumstances, that the only reasonable explanation of the transformation of the disciples can only be traced to the resurrection of Jesus himself.

I want you to take the evidence that I give you today and act like an attorney and see if it would hold up in court.  And if you watch Criminal Minds, imagine that you are on that BA Unit and you have to study the behaviors of these disciples to come to the conclusion of what really caused them to act in the way that they did.

I am going to present to you evidence that supports that the resurrection then meant that Jesus can be proclaimed as messiah after all.  Remember they believed that the messiah will come and remain forever.  He was gone, so therefore, he cannot be.  He is back from the dead, therefore, He must be.

And the resurrection would allow them to look at the scene of humiliation on the cross, the shameful death of this Jesus and to realize that in light of the fact that he has now risen from the dead.

This explains now why Jesus was making the point that forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name.  What possible forgiveness could there be in a dead messiah?  But in a risen messiah, suddenly the picture is dramatically changed.

Without the resurrection, the disciples might have remembered Jesus as their beloved teacher.  But there would be no basis for believing him to be their messiah.  Certainly, they could have gotten together and had themselves a couple of conversations about the wonderful things that Jesus taught them.

And then a month later, have another little coffee meeting and then discuss the wonderful places that Jesus took them.  But we would have never found them discussing the marvelous reality of the risen Christ and their continued presence with them, without the fact of the resurrection.

Now for some of you today that might be wondering about Christianity asking themselves what evidence if any for the resurrection of Jesus, you will find that if you go to the source text you can gather the evidence under three separate headings.

I do not have time this afternoon to go in great detail about each one of these but I just want to give them to you and if you one or two spark your interest you can look into further studies in that area yourself or you can ask me your questions later on.

First, as I have suggested that part of the evidence can be found in the origin of the disciples’ belief in the resurrection.  I did not say in the disciples’ belief in the resurrection, I said in the origin of the disciples’ belief in the resurrection.  What brought about the change?

Any serious investigator is going to ask,

How do these people hidden in fear, suddenly arrive 49 days later proclaiming that Jesus is alive?

And even the most skeptical critic who denies the historical event of the resurrection is still left with having to come up with some mysterious X-factor that got the movement going.

Some of you come here this afternoon saying I do not believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ took place so that cannot possibly be the explanation of the change.  Well, we will now call you to the stand to explain to us why the disciples were so radically different in such a short period of time.

The Disciples were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming this, without any payoff from a human point of view.  They faced a life of hardship.  They often went without food, slept exposed to the elements, were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, and finally, all of the disciples except for John are murdered for their belief in Jesus Christ.

So how do they go from hiding in a room fearful of death to willing laying down their lives as sacrifices in order to tell others about Jesus Christ?

If you want to investigate, you have to go there to the origin of the disciples’ belief in the resurrection.  If you want to investigate, you also have to consider the post-mortem appearances of Jesus.  The evidence shows that the messiah was witnessed in physical bodily appearances after his death.

Of course, some claim that these were mere figments of their imaginations, or they were subjective visions.  They suggest that these disciples have had these visions as a result of their faith.  That it was not that these encounters with Jesus were reality but a product of wishful thinking and their faith.

WhatSo full of what?  They were not full of faith.  They thought it was over.

One of them committed suicide.  One of them really tripped up.  And 10 of them were sitting around in the darkness of night saying if you come back to this door make sure you do the special knock.

Because we do not want just anybody coming through that door.  We just never know when someone might charge in and grab us and we will be the next ones up on that cross.

So what faith was it that produced the visions of this risen Christ?

As Jews, they never would have imagined a risen Christ who ate fish with them.  Because the Jewish mind believed in the resurrection, but they believed that the resurrection would take place at the end of the world.  And apparently it was not the end of the world.  And they believed that the resurrection would be general in its impact and involve all people rather than it being specific involving an individual.

Therefore, if you want to argue for the fact that the disciples imagined it or created this in their minds, we will have to say that they might have imagined a translated Christ, one that God took into heavens, but they would not have imagined a risen Christ that would eat breakfast with them.  Who said you can put your hands in here and touch me here and can walk the Jerusalem streets and who encountered them in such a variety of manners?

We need to lay all of the options out sift through them and pick out the best of the competing explanations to explain why the evidence is true and not otherwise.  That is what you need to do.  Christianity invites it.

It is prepared to standup against rigorous investigation.  And the reason why some of you do not believe today is not because you did the rigorous investigation and found it empty, but because you never did the rigorous investigation.

And VBS comes and VBS goes, you walk in and you walk out.  You pay little attention at what is going on and you look at the crafts and you look at the games and you look at your friend or you look at your teacher and you think to yourself, I do not see why these people are involved in this at all.  Your glad the service does not last too long and you look forward to the wonderful Dinner and let us get on with our lives.  That is your line of thinking, trust me I know because I have been there.

However, do you realize that your eternal destiny is hinges on this.  That the events we are considering are of the most pivotal event in world history.  That there has never been or will be in the whole shape of time, a more significant event than this.

That the question and the answer to the question of the empty tomb is absolutely fundamental to living life and facing death.  That this is not some pointless interest that is for some people and not for others.  Or, a mental crutch for weak-minded people.

So in our case for Christ’s resurrection.  We have to deal with the evidence of the disciples sudden boldness, we have to deal with the post-mortem appearances of Jesus, but next we need to deal with the evidence of the empty tomb.  The amount of evidence that supports the empty tomb is vast.  Again, if this is your hang up additional study will be fruitful for you.

For example, when you look at this material with an open mind the burial story itself is historically credible.  I mean this is one of the questions you should be asking as an unbeliever, is there any credibility in this at all?  Or does this give me the impression as I read it that somehow a group of individuals went in a room and came out with a religious idea and they hang it on the cross of Jesus Christ?

Well then, you are a sensible person.  You must look at the evidence, you must read it, and you know what you will discover?  You will discover that not only is this a book that is capable of your investigation of it.  But you will discover that when you read it that this book is actually investigating you.  You will discover that the person that wrote this book made you.  And that this is actually a handbook that explains you existence.

It will be a wonderful day when you take it out of the glove box and you will see answer to the question,

why am I am the way that I am? 

I wonder if there is an answer to death? 

I wonder if there is an explanation of life? 

I wonder what the matter of this empty tomb is?

And you will discover for example that the story of the tomb makes perfect sense.  A well-known man comes and asks for the body saying I have an empty tomb can I have the body to place him there?  The women did what women did at that time.  It was customary for them to be the embalmers the carriers of spice.  There were no conflicting reports concerning the burial of Jesus.  And in fact, the awareness of the tombs location was apparently something that everyone could have went to.  If there was a body in the tomb, it would have been impossible for the resurrection story to survive for five minutes.

How could these men go out and say Jesus is a live if they are giving tours of his tomb with the body still in it?  Also, the empty tomb is recorded as being discovered first by women.  In that context under Roman rule women did not have a vote.  And in Jewish culture they could not even give testimony in a court of law.  Shepherds could not either.  And the women were regarded as the lowest, when it came to these matters.

And yet you read the story and what does it say, early in the morning while it was still dark Mary Magdalene came to the tomb.  Let us imagine for a second that we are putting together a mythology story.  And we are sitting in a room, and I decide to make my contribution to the discussion and say that early in the morning Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.

Any sensible person is going to say no do not say Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, well I say what about his mother Mary?  No, they are going to say, do not say a woman went to the tomb.  Say a man went into the tomb, because no one is going to believe a testimony of a woman.  I mean if we are going to make a fiction let us make it a good fiction.  Do not say the least credible person in Roman and Jewish law, try to make up the most credible person to support your myth.

Therefore, the fact that it is the women that go into the tomb points to the fact that it is historically true.  Otherwise, we have to believe that the formulators of this non-sense determined that it would be a good idea to take the leaders of the Christian church and to right from the beginning, humiliate them as cowards by writing that they were cowards hiding in a room scared, while the big brave women were out tending to Jesus.

The earliest Jewish arguments support this.  When the Jews came to the tomb, they did not say it is not empty, they instead accuse the disciples of stealing the body.  This proves that the tomb was empty by the argument that they present.

If they could have shown that the tomb was not empty, that would have been far easier than coming up with this notion of the disciples going out to steal the body.  It is actually very difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds.  Those that object to it do so for other reasons.

Get on the bus and go home until the next VBS and this is the kind of thing that you are going to hang your hat on.  And I want to ask you do you really want to do that?  You say the reason why the tomb was empty was not because Jesus had risen from the dead but because the disciples had stolen the body.

First of all, why would they steal the body?  Secondly, where would they put it?  And thirdly, why would they hit the streets with a lie and get themselves killed for it?  I will gladly take that one in a court of law.  I would be glad to deal with that one.

Some of you do not believe because you believe that the women were at the wrong tomb.  I will take that one as well.  What are the chances of a mother forgetting her child’s place of burial?

Some of you believe that he was not really dead.  You believe that once he got in the cold tomb he revived and had a bowl of cereal and then hit the Jerusalem streets.  Are you really going to lay your hat on the fact that the Romans were proficient killers, but just so happened to make a mistake with Jesus?  And that a limping bloody Jesus convinced his disciples that he had been resurrected?

Let me say to you as I draw to a close that those kind of alternative explanations are more incredible than the resurrection itself.  They demand more from a man or woman than faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ does.  The reason why you do not believe this afternoon is not because of lack of evidence, but because you have chosen not to believe.

Two questions and we are through.  Question number 1, is this information reliable?  See that is the question that you need to ask.  Am I up here on a wing and a prayer, am I up here as some kind of religious professional as a representative of Christian mythology society having myself disengaged my brain somewhere in the earlier part of my life and determined that on the base of all this trumped up non-sense that I will give my life to studying the Bible and to seek every opportunity to get to tell others about it.  Well of course, you could conclude that I am crazier than glue and continue on with your life.

But I pray that there are others that you might know and respect, whose testimony that you find more difficult to set aside than mine.  See you have a belief in the miraculous in relationship to this.

You either believe in a scientific or psychological miracle, were normal men and women who were going about their routine days, became conspirators and liars who were prepared to die for their myth.  That is a psychological miracle that I cannot get my head around.

Or, you embrace a biological miracle in relationship to Jesus.  Your assumption is that the soldiers who were doing the bidding of their headquarters came to break the legs of the individuals still living, when they failed to break the legs of Christ that they did that somehow because they did not understand the difference between life and death.  The whole point of the guy taking the spear and plunging it into the side of Jesus was to determine whether he had passed away or not.

The two thieves’ legs were to be broken to take away the platform in which managing to sustain their chest cavity for a moment or two.  Once their legs were broken, the chest cavity would be collapsed and the loss of oxygen would hasten the time of death.  But when they had come to the center cross Jesus is already gone.

And they said there is no need to break the legs here.  Look, I will show you he is already dead with the spear.  That was the point of the spear in the side, it was a death blow to prove that he was dead.

So you are either going to walk out of here on the basis of a biological miracle or you are going to walk out on the basis of a psychological miracle  or you are going to walk out on the basis of a theological miracle.  A theological miracle is the best explanation of the facts, for it points to the reality of the resurrection of Jesus.

Nothing else explains the empty tomb, the post-mortem appearances, and the sudden change of heart of not only the disciples, but also of James and Paul.  They believe it so much that they were all willing to die for this belief.  Now ask yourself what are the chances of 12 people making up a lie and then willingly dying for it?

My final question this afternoon is this.  Is this information relevant?  Why take this time this afternoon to talk this way?  Why not simply talk about one or two nice things and how to have your best life now and get on our way with the world?  Why not give you a word of encouragement and talk about love and peace and happiness and family?  But that has not been what I have been given to talk about.  You need to determine as I do, is this information relevant?

And without a literal resurrection, the Christian faith is worthless, at best Jesus is just a prophet.  But you could not put your faith in him as a messiah, that would be foolish.  To say that the resurrection is a symbol is equally as stupid.  And yet you will find those that proclaim that message because they want to hold onto their traditions on Sundays, but live how they want every other day.

Without the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus, Christianity is worthless and that is why Paul with all his intellect argues so forcibly in 1 Corinthians 15, that if Jesus Christ is not risen, then we as Christians are to be most pitied.

He is basically saying: If Jesus Christ is not alive then those that have died are still in their sins.  Our faith is worthless, our preaching is in vain, the whole thing is a sham, and a waste of time.

Now you see the flip side of this is of course, that Jesus Christ is Alive, then it is supremely relevant for here is a friendship like no other, here is forgiveness that can be found in no one else, here is a future that is all wrapped up in the fact that He is alive.

  • Apologetics simply means defending the faith.
  • We Need to defend our faith for two reasons.
  1. So that we are strong in our faith and will not be easily deceived.
  2. So that we are able to give a good answer when others searching have questions for us about our faith.

Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus:

  1. The Origin of the Disciples Belief in the Resurrection

–        What brought about the change of attitude?

–        What caused them to be willing to lay down their lives to tell others about this Jesus?

  1. The Post-Mortem Appearances of Jesus.

–        It could not be their faith that caused a vision because they had none.

–        It could not be a Dream because they all experienced him and touched him.

  1. The Evidence of the Empty Tomb.

–        Those that opposed the disciples did not say the tomb is not empty, but accuse them of stealing Jesus’ Body.

  • Why would they steal it?
  • Where would they put it?
  • Why would they get themselves killed over a lie?

–        Some say Jesus was not really dead.

  • Romans were proficient killers.
  • No one is going to believe Jesus resurrected if he is limping around bleeding everywhere.


What crime was Jesus charged with? (the people could not find any charge against him.)

Why was a large stone rolled in front of the tomb? (to keep thieves from taking the body)

Who was the first person to discover the empty tomb? (Mary Magdalene)

Where were Peter and the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them? (Locked in an upper room)

How did the disciples respond to seeing Jesus?  (They rejoiced)

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