Well, I’m gonna be honest with you...I’m not doing that good. I am really sore. Here’s the deal. Sherry decided that we needed to get in shape. I told her, "I’m in shape...round is a shape." But she didn’t feel like that was the right shape so she has started us on an exercise...we’re exercising an hour a night. And for all you exercise freaks, I think you’re insane...okay? There’s nothing fun about it. There’s nothing enjoyable. It’s just a lot of pain.
So I just thought I’d open up by whining. Doesn’t that make you feel better? In fact, why don’t you just turn to your neighbor and just whine...just for a minute, just a little bit. That’s good...enough whining, enough whining.
You know, we are kicking off a brand new series called It All Begins With One. And we’re going to take a look together as a church, over about the next six weeks, at the first few chapters of Acts.
If you’re not in a Life Group, right now is the time to get into a Life Group because everyone in Seacoast over the next few weeks is going to study the same things on the weekends, and then we’re going together in our Life Groups during the week. So this weekend would be a great opportunity for you to find where you can get connected with a Life Group because this is going to be a lot of fun. We do this once or twice a year, and it is a great way to connect as a church. Everyone who goes to Seacoast for the next six weeks needs to be in a Life Group.
Before we dive into the series, would you guys do me a favor? Would you just pray with me real quick?
Father, I thank You. What an awesome opportunity to be both with this congregation here and with the congregations that are at other campuses or joining us on a podcast or on the Internet. We’re really so thankful for all those who have gathered wherever they are. Lord, I pray that right now, You will speak through me, Lord, that You’ll use my words tonight to convey Your truth. Lord, I just thank You for it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In 1939, a guy named Leo Szilard...a Hungarian...they described him as kind of eccentric, kind of a charming little guy, and he had fled Hungary, he was a physicist, and when the Nazis began to take over Europe, he fled to America. In fact, he started working as a researcher at Columbia University.
In his research, he realized that a process that some of his colleagues were developing, called nuclear fission, he realized that if they took that process and they applied it to uranium, that theoretically, it could set off a potentially unbelievably explosive chain reaction. And as he began to think about this, he began to think about the implications.
So he went down the hall, and he talked with his friend, Eugene Wigner. Eugene was also a Hungarian physicist, and as they talked, they began to realize this was a lot bigger than the two of them. It was bigger than Columbia University. So they knew they had to share this with someone else. They decided the best person to share it with was another Jewish refuge from Europe named Albert Einstein. They had heard that Einstein was in New York where they were. In fact, they had heard he was vacationing in a cabin on a lake in upstate New York.
So without any further preparation, the two of them jumped in a car, and they drove up to this little town. They didn’t know where Einstein was. One of them had met him before; the other one had never met him. So they just began looking for Albert Einstein.
They saw a little boy walking on the road. They stopped, they rolled down their window, and they said, "Do you know where Albert Einstein is staying?" He said, "Sure, I’ll show you." So he showed them to the little cabin.
They walked up to the cabin unannounced, knocked on the door. When Einstein came to the door, they introduced themselves, and they said, "There’s something we have to share with you." And uninvited, they walked into the cabin.
They spent about 15 minutes explaining to Einstein this theory, this chain reaction theory that was based on work that Einstein had done about 30 years previous. After 15 minutes, Einstein realized that this could have huge implications. In fact, he realized that this could have implications that could change the course of mankind. So he and Szilard sat down and they wrote out a letter to President Roosevelt. They said, "Here’s the deal...there are some scientists working on something that you need to know about."
That letter then led to the Manhattan Project, which eventually led to the development of the first atom bomb, and that little conference in that cabin in New York still has implications 70 years later. We’re still talking about Iran getting a bomb, North Korea getting a bomb, and it all goes back to these guys in this cabin in New York.
Now, if we go back in time 2,000 years, we meet another group of Jewish men and women, and they have just gotten information that they realize has implications that could change the course of history. In fact, they realize that the information they had would change mankind as they knew it. So they had to figure out...What do we do? How do we handle this kind of information?
If you look in your Bible, you’ll see in the book of Acts, that’s where this group of people gets together, and they began to deal with this new information, this revolutionary chain reaction power that will change mankind. So that is what we are going to do in this series...is look at the history and the beginnings of this revolution and it all begins in Acts, chapter 1.
If you have your Bible, go ahead and open it to Acts, chapter 1. It’s easy to find. It should be well-worn in your Bible. There’s Matthew, Mark, Luke...Luke that we’ve been in for how long? ...27 years, that’s right. We finished Luke, and now we’re starting Acts.
Acts, chapter 1, verses 1-3 says this, "In the first book (that’s the book of Luke. Luke is the same author who wrote the Gospel of Luke; he also wrote Acts), O Theophilus (which is the same guy he addressed in the first book.) So it says, "In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen. He presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God."
Okay, this is audience participation. I’m going to read those verses again, and I want you to see if you can pick out what you think is the key nuclear power, chain reaction phrase that is going to change history, and it’s in these first three verses of Acts. Let me read it again.
"In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen. He presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God."
Did you get the phrase? I want you to turn to your neighbor right now, and I want you to tell them what you think the key phrase is in there. Real quick...tell them. At the other campuses...tell them. Tell the people. If you’re on the Internet, type it in the chat. What is the key phrase? Right now.
I’ll tell you what the key phrase is...okay? The key phrase...the nuclear power, the chain reaction is buried in the middle, and we read it so many times that it becomes common place to us. But there is so much power that it changed mankind. It’s this phrase: "He presented Himself alive." He presented Himself alive to them.
So what’s the significance of that phrase? Well, you see, two months earlier, Jesus was dead. He wasn’t kind of dead. He wasn’t like in Princess Bride, "mostly dead." He was really, really dead. His disciples had seen Him beaten, almost to death. They had seen Him crucified. They saw Him stabbed with a spear until blood and water ran out. They saw Him sealed in a tomb for three days. He was dead.
In fact, no one who ever witnessed a Roman execution walked away saying, "I wonder if the victim survived." They didn’t survive. Jesus was dead...40 days before this, 50 days before this...Jesus was dead. No doubt about it. And now, He’s alive.
Jesus just got up out of the grave. He was dead for three days. Do you hear what I’m saying? He got up, okay? He quit being dead. He just said, "I’m done." He walked out of the grave. He found His friends. He said, "Hey guys, what’s up? I’m alive!" Okay?
To get proper context of this, we hear it so many times that we don’t think about it. Imagine this...imagine your favorite uncle...Uncle Tony...dies. Don’t you love Uncle Tony? I miss Uncle Tony already. I mean...wow! He was such a great guy...
So we go to the funeral home, right? And we do the mourning thing, and we do the viewing deal, and then the next day we have a funeral, and there’s Uncle Tony, and he’s in his best suit. He’s in the casket. At the end, we do eulogies, and there are flowers. They close the casket, and they seal it up. Then they put it in the hearse.
Then we follow the hearse out to the grave site, right? And because we love Uncle Tony, we’re one of the pallbearers. So we actually help carry the casket out to the grave that’s open. Then the preacher says a couple of words...ashes to ashes, dust to dust...everyone says some things.
Everyone leaves except you decide to stay because you loved Uncle Tony. So you stay and watch while they lower his casket down into the ground. You watch as the grave diggers cover the grave over. You watch as the headstone is set in place. Then you get in your car, and you go home.
You feel bad for Uncle Tony, but you knew he was a good Christian man so you kind of deal with the sorrow, and three days later... You’re at home. It’s morning. You go walking downstairs to breakfast, and Uncle Tony is sitting at your dining room table, and Uncle Tony says, "Hey, what’s up? What’s for breakfast?"
How many of you are freaking out? Okay? People do not get up after being dead.
Now, we know that in the Bible, there have been people raised from the dead before, right? But never all by themselves. Okay? Never all by themselves. They always had someone pray for them. They always had a prophet or Jesus or Paul or somebody pray and they were raised from the dead. Jesus is the only Person ever...up to that point and since then...to simply come back from the dead.
All history pointed to that moment. From creation through the Old Testament and the prophets and the kings and all the things that happened around the world, all pointed to the moment, the instant, when Jesus stepped out of the tomb. And everything since then has been created from that moment.
In fact, even our dating system...you know this...B. C. and A. D. is divided by what? They are divided by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It all goes back to that. You see, everything changed at that moment, with the resurrection. The world’s concept of God changed instantly.
Because of the resurrection, God cannot be thought of as an abstract concept. Because of the resurrection, God is not a cosmic force. Because of the resurrection, God is not a higher power. He’s not an intelligent designer. You see, because of the resurrection, God was no longer a distant figure that occasionally became involved in history.
See, the disciples knew the Old Testament stories. They knew about Noah talking with God. They knew about Moses talking with God. They knew about Abraham talking with God. But they had never experienced that. To them, God was someone they believed in but very distant. Once in a while, God would come into history and then step out of history, and come into history and step out of history. Now, all of a sudden, they look into the face of Jesus, and they realize He is God. He really, really is God.
See, because of the resurrection, Buddha can’t be God because Buddha didn’t die and come back from the dead. Because of the resurrection, Mohammed can’t be God because Mohammed did not die and come back from the dead. Your cat can’t be God because your cat isn’t coming back from the dead.
Only Jesus is God.
You see, the miracles Jesus did...think about this for a minute...the miracles Jesus did. Sometimes we talk about the miracles like that proved Jesus was God. It didn’t, really. Jesus turned water into wine. That was cool. Moses divided the Red Sea. Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. That was cool! Elijah fed himself, a widow, and her son for a year with one little can of flour. Jesus raised His best friend from the dead. One time the apostle Paul was speaking, and he went on too long, and a teenager fell out of a window and fell on his head and died, and Paul went and raised him from the dead.
You see, the miracles did not prove Jesus was God. Obviously He was a prophet. Obviously He was plugged into something supernatural, but when He rose from the dead, all of a sudden, He’s God. Only Jesus... You guys are like, We know this...we know this. This is big stuff. This is nuclear power. This is chain reaction kind of stuff. Only Jesus showed Himself alive to His friends. No one else has ever done that. No one.
You don’t ever get that chance to show yourself alive to your friends after you’re dead. When He did that, it proved for all time that God exists. It proved for all time that God exists within the framework of the history of man. It proved for all time that God exists in the person of Jesus Christ. It proved for all time that God exists in resurrection power. See, Acts begins with Jesus presenting Himself alive to them.
The disciples...when Jesus came back...you know how you felt when Uncle Tony showed up at the breakfast table? How do you think the disciples felt when Jesus showed up? Holy smokes! I mean, first they’re excited, but then there has to be something that says, "Oh wow! This is big! Guys...this is really, really big!"
It says that Jesus spent 40 days teaching them about the things that He had taught them about before, teaching them about the kingdom of heaven. We’re going to talk in the next week or two about Him returning to heaven...the ascension, but at this point, there’s a small group of men and women who know that they are on to something big. Just like the men who were gathered in Einstein’s cabin in 1939. This small group knew that the power they had gotten a hold of...the resurrection power they had come face to face with...was going to revolutionize the world.
You see, the four gospels are an introduction to the resurrection power. The reason there are four of them is because God wanted to make sure we understood what Jesus did while He was on earth, that we understood that all of it was a run up to the resurrection. All of it was preparation for His death and His resurrection.
Then Acts is the pivot point of the Bible. Did you realize that? Everything else revolves around what happens in Acts because before Acts, it’s Old Testament. Then it is Jesus. Then Jesus dies, and then...boom...there’s the resurrection. Every gospel ends...resurrection, resurrection, resurrection...
Then in Acts, all of a sudden we find out what happens with this resurrection power. Jesus has unleashed resurrection power on the earth. What happens because of that resurrection power? I’ll tell you what happens. Right after this chapter and the next chapter, we’re going to study about Pentecost.
You know what happens on Pentecost is the Holy Spirit comes down. What is that about? Well, when this Hungarian scientist went to Einstein, he theoretically knew that a chain reaction could be set off by bombarding uranium atoms, but he didn’t know how to do it. He knew it could be done, but he didn’t know how to do it. He didn’t know how to harness it. So they spent five years figuring out how to make this happen, how to harness it, how to create this bomb, and then that was the Manhattan Project. Pentecost is like the Manhattan Project of Christianity.
See, the disciples suddenly had resurrection power, but it wasn’t catalyzed yet. It wasn’t ready to launch yet. On Pentecost Sunday (in Acts, chapter 2) that’s when God poured out the Holy Spirit. That’s when the resurrection power was catalyzed and all of a sudden...all of a sudden...all this power was unleashed on earth through men. When Jesus rose from the dead...that was God’s resurrection power. But then in Acts, we begin to see that same resurrection power flowing out through men.
Peter, on Pentecost, gets up. He preaches... This guy ticks me off; I just have to tell you...as a preacher, okay? As a guy who likes to preach. First sermon...first time out of the box, okay? Peter doesn’t study one minute...not one minute. As poor a job as I’m doing here, I’ve studied hours to get even this bad, okay? Peter doesn’t even crack a Bible. He gets up, he speaks, he goes through the whole Old Testament, he doesn’t hit one felt need of his audience, he accuses them of killing Jesus, and at the end of his sermon, what happened? You guys know...3,000 people joined the Church. What is that about? I finish preaching, and four people walk out.
Let me tell you about the first time I preached...true story. The first time I ever preached, I was a teenager. I had an uncle who was a pastor. Who would’ve figured that? I had an uncle who was a pastor, and he invited me to come preach at his church. So, man, I studied, and I had myself an outline and points and all that good stuff, and I got up, and I preached and preached and preached my heart out. I mean I gave them everything I had. I started from the beginning to the end and worked my way to the middle and did it again and over, and when I sat down, I had preached for an entire 10 minutes...10 whole minutes.
The people were just stunned and confused. My uncle got up, and he said, "Well, he’s a good boy. I’m sorry..." You know, just kind of...
What’s up with Peter, you know? What’s up with Peter is that he had resurrection power. He had plugged into the Holy Spirit, okay? That same power that raised Jesus from the dead was at work in Peter, and 3,000 people gave their lives to Christ.
Like the next week, Peter is just walking to the temple like he did every day...he’s walking to the temple, and there’s a lame guy by the gate of the temple, and Peter stops and goes, "You know what? It’s time for you to stop being lame. Let’s go...up to your feet...let’s go! Jesus heals you...let’s do this thing!" What happens? The guy starts jumping up and down. He starts doing jump-n-jacks. How does that happen? How does that kind of thing happen? It’s not just miraculous healing and preaching; this amazing community is formed...a community like has never been repeated on earth.
Let me read a description of it. If you’re in Acts, just flip over to the fourth chapter, and let me read just three verses real quick. "Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common, and with great..."
See, people have tried to repeat this superficially, but there’s a secret. There’s a secret to it. "...they had everything in common. And with great power (there’s that word), the apostles were giving their testimony..." To what...what were they giving their testimony to? "...to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need."
How does that happen? How does that happen? Before we get done with Acts, demons are going to be cast out. Before we get done with Acts, dead people are going to be raised. By the time we get done with Acts, this little Jewish sect of just a few men and women, who knew the secret of the power of the resurrection, will have grown to tens of thousands of people spread across the entire known world in a span of less than 20 or 30 years. How does that happen? It’s a chain reaction of unbelievable proportions; it’s resurrection power...it’s resurrection power.
So, in the last few minutes we have together, what does that mean to you and me? I mean, that’s good history, right? But what does that mean to you and me? Acts was 2,000 years ago. Let me give you three things real quickly that it means to you and me.
1. The first thing it means is God is real. God is real. John 1:14 says, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
You see, the resurrection proves the reality of God. Did you know the resurrection is one of the most attested to events in history? In fact, when Luke wrote this book, there were still hundreds of people alive in Jerusalem who had seen Jesus alive. They had seen Him put to death, and they saw Him alive.
If Luke had written that Jesus showed Himself to people alive, and no one else had seen it, they would have laughed at him, but no one laughed at this book because it was an accepted fact that Jesus died, and He rose again. It is attested by over 500 eye witnesses. Evidence points back again and again that Jesus rose from the dead.
The best evidence I have is the fact that Jesus’ disciples...every one of them...eventually gave their lives for the cause of Jesus Christ. No one willing dies for something they know to be a lie. People die all the time for causes that may not be true, may not be real, may not be right, but they believe in them. No one dies for something they know is a lie.
Why would 11 men go to their death saying He is God who has risen from the dead?
You know, there’s a new attack on faith. There’s a new attack on...is God alive? And it is an attack by intellectuals. As you read the books by Christopher Hitchins and Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris (they call them the new atheists)...these guys are brilliant. They’re brilliant. They’re funny. They’re creative. And they write these books that are really, really hard to refute, and it brings your faith into question.
It does for me...it’s a challenge. Then I step back, and I say, "Is God real? Is He real? Is this all just kind of a myth that men make up to make themselves feel better?" Except...for one thing...they can’t explain the resurrection. They can’t explain the resurrection.
The only answer for the resurrection is that God is real, and if the resurrection is real, then the rest of it is real as well. He is God. He lives. He cares. He wants to be involved in our lives.
2. The second thing about the resurrection is we can tap into resurrection power. We can tap into resurrection power. Romans 1:16 says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." It is the power of God for salvation.
How many of you grew up in some kind of church? Did you ever sing a song (I’m not going to sing...don’t worry) that said, "There is power, power, wonder-working power..." How many of you ever sang that song? We have Pentecostals back there...woo! The song said, "There is power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb. There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb." Then the verse said, "Would you be free from your burden of sin? There’s power in the blood..." And then it said, "Would you o’er evil a victory win? There’s wonderful power in the blood."
We sang that song as kids, and it was kind of sing-songy, and we didn’t think about it, but the truth of that song is amazing! There’s power in the blood.
Let me ask you some questions...
Where do you need resurrection power today in your life? Is there brokenness in your life? There’s power in the blood. Is there fear in your life? There’s power in the blood. Do you feel lost? Do you feel alone? Do you feel like you don’t know what’s next in your life? There’s power in the blood of the Lamb. Maybe you struggle with guilt or with worry or with anxiety. There’s power in the blood.
Maybe today you need a healing either in your physical body or in your finances or in your relationship or in your marriage. You know what? For healing...there’s power in the blood. Maybe you need forgiveness today. Maybe you just need a huge dose of hope in your life. The reality is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the chain reaction...atomic power...resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is power for whatever you need, and it’s available to you today.
3. The last thing about the resurrection power... How do you access God’s power? You access God’s power...the Bible is very clear...by seeking Him with all your heart, with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You’ll seek Me and find Me..." Do you notice that? "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all Your heart."
How do you seek God with all your heart? First of all, you have to stop pretending that you have it all together. You have to stop looking good. You have to stop looking like you have all the answers. You have to put aside your pride. You have to stop worrying about what other people think. Then you pour out your heart to God. You come to God, and you say, "God, I’m a sinner." And you confess your sin to God, whether you did when you were six years old or sixteen or sixty or you never have...you approach God, when you need to seek God with all your heart, you approach Him saying, "I am a sinner." And you confess your sin.
Then you ask Him and say, "I want you to be Lord of my life." Oh, I did that. I walked down an aisle and they sang Just As I Am, and I made Him Lord. No, no no...you have to make Him Lord today again because you need that power. You need that power. You have to have that power. How do you get that power? You seek Him with all your heart. You confess your sin. You say, "Lord, I want You to be Lord of my life." Then you just pour out your heart to Jesus. You tell Him what’s going on in your life. You plead your case before God.
And here’s the deal...here’s where old-time church, I think, maybe had it right and maybe we’re missing it sometimes in our lives in the 21st century: You’re not always going to experience power in a quick three-minute prayer. Okay? You’re not always going to find God’s face in five minutes or before the last song ends.
They used to do something in the church I grew up in, and they called it tarrying. Tarrying basically just meant waiting. It meant, "You know what, God? I am so desperate for Your power that I’m not going anywhere until I hear from You. I’m not going to go anywhere until I feel the power in my life."
See, that’s what it means to seek God with all your heart. To say, "God, there’s not schedule. There’s no arrangement. There’s no obligation. There’s no anything. There’s only me, and there is You, and I have to experience resurrection power in my life because I’m dying, and I need to be alive again."
So where do you need resurrection power, and what are you doing...what are you willing to do...to experience that power?
Would you pray with me?
Jesus, how do we say thank you for raising from the dead? We don’t have words. But Lord, because You did, we know that You’re real. We know that You live. We know that there is power in Your name. Lord, we know that because You came in the form of a baby, and You lived among men, we know that You care about us. Lord, You want us to experience power...resurrection power.
Lord, I pray for everyone who is listening now....Lord, those who are desperate for You, those who it’s gone way beyond just an intellectual assent, it’s gone way beyond just a little bit of a need, but Lord, they’re dead, and they need to be raised from the dead. They need resurrection power in their lives.
Lord, I pray that as we seek Your face, we will find You. Lord, I pray for power, and Lord, I believe You for it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.