Victoria Park Christian Centre
Suite 1, 342 Albany Highway, Victoria Park 6100, Western Australia
In the Northern hemisphere they are well into the Spring season and all of the flowers are now fully open. Did you know that’s why they named this month April? It’s from the Latin verb “aperio” which means to open. Even though it’s Autumn here, the opposite season, we can relate to the openness of this month because of Easter and the open tomb. Let’s look at the opening events that resulted from resurrection Sunday onwards.
The first people to have an encounter with the risen Lord were the women at the tomb, the disciples and the travellers on the road to Emmaus. They were convinced that Jesus was the Son of God sent to bring salvation to the world. We know this from Jesus’ prayer in the garden:
They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. (John 17:8)
However, they hadn’t understood what the open tomb meant and that is why when they had the news that Jesus had risen from an angel, and the women, they couldn’t believe it. It took a supernatural encounter with Jesus where He opened their minds for them to understand:
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:45-48)
Following this supernatural encounter with Jesus they ALL believed and rejoiced and received Jesus just like Thomas as their Lord and their God: Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
The Jews and the Romans had made a decision well in advance of resurrection day to reject the claims of Jesus. Paul explains the reason:
We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. (1 Corinthians 1:23)
You see, the Jews stumbled at the lowliness of Jesus’ birth, parents and education, company and ministry. But the especially rejected His suffering and death, which, according to their Law, meant that He was cursed. As we know they expected a hero to set up a kingdom on earth for them. The gentile Romans likewise had strong mythological heroes as their gods – hundreds of them. They thought it foolish to segregate their worship to just one god. Neither the Jews nor the Romans were open to the good news that riches should come through Jesus’ poverty. They don’t understand that there should be life for men in His death, and salvation through His crucifixion. Blessings should come from His curse, and peace and pardon with God through His blood. It was right that He should be raised again from the dead.
As the disciples had openly received Jesus as their Lord and God, after He ascended to heaven, they had no problem busying themselves with His instructions. First they waited for the heavens to open and the Holy Spirit to descend on each believer as Jesus had promised. Once they had received the Holy Spirit they were equipped to carry out the other instructions as they had Christ in them the hope of glory. Christ on the outside is no good to you – you need to have Him inside you to be effective. Paul tells the Colossians that unless they have Christ in them they have no hope of glory which is God’s presence with them:
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)
The disciples in the power of the Holy Spirit then began to openly witness the truth of Jesus Christ and His salvation. With Christ in them, they emulated the ministry of Jesus Christ by preaching the kingdom of God, healing the sick, casting out demons, cleansing, and everything else Jesus had commissioned them to do.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
Innumerable people saw Jesus’ power working through their open witness and works which caused their minds to be opened. They also believed and received Jesus as their Lord and God. We have the same commission today and the people are the same. I know that, because when we open weekly to the public, confused, sick, depressed and often demon oppressed people come through our doors. Many stumble over Jesus and His teachings, like the Jews. Just as many have gods for protection such as house gods, land gods, sky gods just like the Romans. I also know that we have the same Jesus as the Bible says:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
We also are witnesses to His power through the Holy Spirit still working to open minds and perform miracles on a regular basis.
The only hope for this sinful world is to receive Jesus as their Lord and their God. Throughout the Bible people have been called to believe and receive:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [authority, power] to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
It seems to me that many believers are not opening themselves up to receiving Jesus as they don’t know how to. It’s because the church has watered down this “receiving” doctrine to become an “accepting” one. Receiving calls for action – some “busyness” – whereas, accepting is passive. “Will you accept Jesus as your Saviour?” conjures up a Jesus that is standing meekly waiting for people to accept Him and being grateful when they do. It depicts a Saviour that is begging or standing or knocking at the door of a drunkard, drug addict or prostitute and pleading for them to accept Him without any trouble on their side. This is totally unbiblical and is not what Jesus opened up by His death and resurrection. Yes it’s true that Jesus did it all for us and that “it is finished.” We cannot do a single thing to earn our salvation. We are saved by grace, and not by works but the rest of that teaching says:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:9-10)
It’s believe and receive and do! When we believe, we are the ones who gain eternally not Him. All power and dominion in heaven and earth have been given to Jesus and He gains nothing when we come or loses nothing when we don’t. It’s for me; I am the gainer or the loser. Jesus says through scripture that if anyone will come He has died for them and will plead for them but they must not be passive but deny themselves and take up their cross.
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
That’s not passive! Jesus makes the terms and we meet them. Today’s teaching of “just accept” has nothing troublesome about it. Any cross is the most troublesome thing in the world. It took a healthy young man and killed Him so that we could follow Him by becoming totally obedient to the Father and His will and die to ourselves and one day rise with Him in glory.
This believing and receiving of scripture is forming an attachment to Him emotionally and intellectually as Lord and God which is life changing. It is the receiving of Him and His teaching and obedience to them in every compartment of your life. That means that everything else is secondary to your Lord and Saviour – your partner, your kids, your job, your hobbies and everything. Anything else is a compromise. All relationships must be touched through this relationship. He must be the power behind everything we do and the only power.
It’s April – the open month. Won’t you open yourself and receive Him and be His witnesses and let people see healing and deliverance through you as you obey His commission as your Lord and your God?
This message is an excerpt from a sermon given by Andrea Lock at Perth Healing Ministries Chapel on 3rd April, 2016. Our services are open to the public, and our Healing Ministry operates three public sessions each week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you would like more information, please use the contact form below. Bless you!