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Preaching Christ in Custody (Acts 4:1-12)

April 16, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon highlights the most essential truth of the Gospel, Christ’s resurrection. Pastor Carter labors the point that without Jesus Christ, there is no hope for humanity. The focus of this sermon is on the uniqueness, necessity, and exclusivity of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ

20140311-184658.jpgAnd they arrested them and put them in custodyand when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well (Acts 4:3, 7-10; ESV).”

Peter was questioned by the same men who questioned Jesus, and not only had these been the same men, they asked Peter the same question they asked Jesus, “by what power did you do this” (Luke 20:2)?  The real irony is in fact that while they were questioning Christ, Peter was outside denying Him. Now, Peter stands boldly testifying before these men in the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit. Peter testifies of the Jesus whom they crucified, but whom God has raised from the dead. This Jesus provided the power to heal the lame man.

The Necessity of Jesus Christ

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone (Acts 4:11; ESV).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was enough to convict the Sadducees, considering they denied anyone being able to rise from the dead, but now Peter takes his indictment a step further.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter was able to use Psalm 118:22 to convict the Sadducees and Pharisees of rejecting Jesus Christ, who is the cornerstone. The reason why this indictment was so convicting lies in the fact that these men believed themselves to be the keepers and builders of God’s house.  These leaders prided themselves on their knowledge and traditions of the law given by Moses.  However, as Christ said to them many times, although they sought the Scriptures diligently they missed the most important truth, the only way to God the Father is through Jesus Christ, His Son (John 5:15-47).

The Exclusivity of Jesus Christ

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12; ESV).

Peter sums up his message with the exclusivity of Jesus Christ.  After illustrating the uniqueness and necessity of Christ, Peter provokes these men to respond to the gospel by giving them the truth of the gospel.  “There is salvation in no one else”. These men had no other option, but to surrender to this Jesus whom they crucified and whom God raised from the dead. This message was great and promising because even though these men had sinned greatly against God, yet God still provided a way for them to repent and receive forgiveness of their sin.

Are you living a life without Jesus Christ?

The presence of God is not a safe place. Those in their sin, run from His Word; but those who rest in Him, know while His presence is not safe, it is the best place to be. There is only one way to God, which God has graciously provided, namely his Son, Jesus Christ. The reason we must have Christ is that there is no salvation without Him.  If there were another way, then Christ would not have had to die on the cross at Calvary. However, because God has provided in Jesus the way to God, we can be reconciled to a God who loves and cares for us.

Are you seeking salvation in some other way today? Do you think that your works will please God? God attested to Jesus through the resurrection. Jesus lives up to His name (Matt. 1:21).  Thus, if you build a life without Jesus Christ, your labor is in vain, because without Him you have nothing (Ps. 127; John 1:3, 15).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Solomon’s Porch (Acts 3:11-26)

April 9, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:
Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon emphasizes the importance of preaching Christ above all others. Elder Duncanson illustrates the implications of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The focus of this sermon is on marveling at doctrine of concurrency, which states God is sovereign in all things even in the decisions of human beings, while holding them accountable for their actions.

The Sovereignty of God

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While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him (Acts 3:11-13; ESV).”

Instead of making a name for himself, Peter makes the name of Christ known. Peter understood this miraculous healing of the lame man was great, but the miracle served as a sign. Elder Duncanson explains that a sign points to a greater reality than the sign. The greater reality that this sign pointed to was the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, Peter used this opportunity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which included indicting these men for committing the greatest sin in history, crucifying Christ.

Human Responsibility

But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all (Acts 3:14-16; ESV).”

Peter’s indictment or rebuke for their sin was essential to preaching the gospel message. These men were familiar with the Old Testament and they knew the law of God. However, they did not realize they were accessories to the murder of Jesus Christ. They had killed Jesus — the Son of God, the Holy and Righteous One, and the Author of Life. Yet Peter did not leave them hopeless to deal with their sin. No, Peter faithfully points them to this same Jesus, in whose name the lame man was healed, and in whom they could receive forgiveness even for this heinous sin.

The Proper Response

And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago (Acts 3:17-21; ESV).”

Here we see why the Gospel is such good news. Even though these men were guilty, they were offered repentance and forgiveness of sin. Peter understood he too was just as guilty as these men for his abandonment and denial of Jesus Christ, in His greatest hour of temptation (Matt. 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18). Although Christ knew that Peter was the perfect candidate to testify of the power of God, by showing that He had the power to restore and redeem Peter (cf. Luke 22:31-32). Therefore, Peter presented them with their sin, which was the bad news, in order that he might offer them better news, the Hope of humanity, Jesus Christ. The proper response to the gospel is repentance and faith.

Do you continue to deny Jesus Christ?

We deny Christ in our lives, even as Christians, when we sin and push Him to the side for our desires. When you understand the mercy of God, the good news of Jesus Christ should cause you to marvel. You not only get the forgiveness of sin, but you get Christ.

Do you realize your sin put Jesus on that cross at Calvary? How will you respond today? The proper response is see yourself as guilty before God, while also realizing Christ is alive and able to forgive. Repent and believe in Him who is the Author of Life.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Healing at the Temple Gate (Acts 3:1-10)

April 3, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:
Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates how the power of God is made perfect in weakness. Pastor Carter extols Christ for providing help in the time of need. The focus of this sermon is on the lessons learned from the needs of the lame man at the temple gate.

Help for the Helpless

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And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple (Acts 3:1-10; ESV).”

This lame man was in need of help daily. He was dependent upon others physically and financially. He knew the right time to be carried before the temple gate. Moreover, he knew that the people would have mercy on him since they were going into the temple to find mercy from God. Unbeknownst to him, God would send help to this helpless man, but not in the way he thought he needed help.

Healing for the Broken

Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them (Acts 3:3-5; ESV).”

Unfortunately, this lame man fell into what Pastor Carter refers to as the “Money Trap“. Carters describes the money trap as common way of thinking that money is the greatest need. With this in mind, the lame was not really looking for conversation. He was familiar with the routine at the temple gate, where he receives the gift and the person who give gets the glory to both of their satisfaction. Instead, Peter and John, as representatives of Christ, look past his wants to focus on his greatest need.

Give Me Jesus

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong (Acts 3:6, 7; ESV).”

Remember Peter was not poor or without money, but he understood the difference between what the lame man wanted and what he needed (Acts 2). Peter had a promise for Jesus Christ, that if He asked anything in His name, He would do it (John 14:12-14). Therefore, the lame man did not rise up because of Peter’s confidence in himself. No, Peter put his confidence in Jesus Christ, knowing He was not only powerful, but faithful. As a result, a miracle took place before the temple gate to glorify God, comfort His people, and make way for a sermon (vs. 8-10).

Is Jesus Christ all I need?

This account of the lame man is a unique illustration of our spiritual state without the power of Jesus Christ manifesting in our life. Helplessness is what makes the Gospel good news. Helplessness is what makes our prayers effective.

Do you see yourself as helpless today? Are you aware of your brokenness? Well, there is a Healer named Jesus Christ who have the power to save, to deliver, and He is glorified when we call upon Him in our time of need. Repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5)

March 29, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:
This week’s sermon emphasizes the practical nature of the Great Commission. Deacon Johnson encourages the people of God to remember that they are the instruments He uses to accomplish His plans. The focus of this sermon is on the promises of God through Christ for His people.

The Promise of Restoration

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So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day…For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 4:16, 5:1; ESV)..”

The hope of the Church is founded on God’s Word, namely, His faithfulness to keep His promises. The people of God are called to preserve knowing that God has promised to restore us in the life to come (cf. Christ’s Resurrection). Therefore, Paul exhorts the Church to continue to proclaim the gospel resting on the promise of restoration regardless of what they faced on earth.

The Promise of Redemption

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Corinthians 4:14-15; ESV).”

Not only did Paul exhort the believers at Corinth with the promise of their future state, but Deacon Johnson highlights Paul’s familial admonition to focus on the present promise of redemption through Christ. This promise of redemption is essentially the Gospel of Jesus Christ, mainly, He died in our place to satisfy the wrath of God, that those whom He redeems have access to a loving relationship with God the Father through Him (Matt. 11:25-30). Therefore, this love of Christ compels Paul to preach Christ and His resurrection knowing he too will be raised (1 Cor. 15).

The Promise of Reconciliation

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 4:18-19; ESV).”

Although those in Christ have received the promise of restoration and redemption, God has also called them to share this message of reconciliation with others. Paul obeys Christ’s command by challenging these believers to go out into the world with this message of hope, which is only found in Jesus Christ. Armed with these promises and the mission of God before him, Paul reminds the believers of Corinth to embrace their call to witness unto the nations.

Are you an Ambassador of Christ?

Every christian has been given these promises of restoration, redemption, and reconciliation in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. The love of Christ should compel us to share this message of hope with others, imploring them to be reconciled with God on behalf Christ. Thus, those who are in Christ have been called to witness of the love and severity of God, knowing that as His ambassadors, God is faithful to His Word.

Do you see your need of Christ today? Do you realize that death is certain and eternity lies ahead? Please do not delay any longer, Christ is the only One able to reconcile you to God the Father. He is the Only to redeem and reconcile us to God the Father. Repent and believe the gospel.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Spirit in Community (Acts 2:42-47)

March 19, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:
Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon highlights the characteristics of the true church of Jesus Christ. Pastor Carter revives the spirit of the true church in our day by setting forth the spiritual disciplines of the early church. The focus of this sermon is on the early church’s devotion to learning, living, eating and praying together in community.

Learning to Together in Community

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And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles (Acts 2:42-43; ESV).”

The early church heard the Apostles’ teaching daily. They went to the temple to learn from the Apostles (i.e. the mouthpiece of God), then they spent time afterwards devoting themselves to fellowship with one another in each other’s homes. God did with the Apostles as He did with Jesus Christ attested of them with signs and wonders.

Living to Together in Community

…and the fellowship…And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need (Acts 2:42,44-45; ESV).”

Alongside Spirit-filled teaching followed Spirit-filled fellowship. The early church understood that God gathered them together in Christ. They knew Christ called His church to the intimacy of cooperating and sharing in the community for their good and God’s glory. They did not just give. The power of Holy Spirit gave them new passions and priorities reordered toward God and each other. Thus, they delightfully, joyously, and creatively found ways to give as needs arose.

Eating to Together in Community

…to the breaking of bread…And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people (Acts 2:42, 46-47; ESV).”

Jesus Christ was most often found eating (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34; John 2, 13). There is no surprise we see the church following our Lord. Food is a basic necessity of our body, thus, Christ meets even our most basic needs as both Lord and Savior. In fact, the people of God eat and drink their fill of Jesus Christ in the Old and New Testament (Ex. 24:11; Matt. 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 21:7-23; John 13). Our fellowship at communion is a time of fellowship and sharing with Christ (1 Cor. 10:16).

Praying to Together in Community

…and the prayers (Acts 2:42; ESV).”

After teaching, fellowship, and eating there was time given to prayer as a community. Learning sound doctrine leads to prayer. Bible teaching and study go along with prayer, they are inseparable.

What does a Spirit-filled Community Look Like?

The true church of the living Jesus Christ is a community of believers. Believers in Jesus Christ, that is, formed by the Holy Spirit with passions and priorities reordered toward God & each other. God has called us together and He expects us to be together.

What shapes your life? What are really your passions? The Spirit of God creates an appetite for the Word of God. Likewise, the most valuable resource available in the Church is people; and our most valuable resource as people is time. Generosity, as needs arise, is a distinctive mark of a Spirit-filled church.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Peter’s Sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2:22-41)

March 12, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:
Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon continues with Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, to which Peter labors the point, Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior. Pastor Carter shows us the importance of preaching Christ. The focus of this sermon is the subject, point, and goal of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost.

The Subject of Peter’s Sermon

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Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it…This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing (Acts 2:22-35; ESV).”

On Pentecost, Peter sets the table for what true preaching looks like. Pastor Carter describes good preaching as Spirit-filled, bible-based, and Christ-exalting preaching that explains, exhorts, proclaims to others that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. During this account at Pentecost, we see that the preaching of Christ accompanied the Spirit.

Jesus Christ was Peter’s subject. Peter spoke more powerfully and clearly when he spoke about Christ rather than in a different tongue (cf. 1 Cor. 14:18-19). Peter, through the power of the Spirit, illustrated how God attested to Jesus, mainly, in the working of miracles. Miracles were signs that showed that Jesus not only had the power of God, but that He was God.

The Point of Peter’s Sermon

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:36; ESV).”

The point of Peter’s sermon was Jesus Christ is Lord. Likewise, the point of good preaching is the proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ. Peter acknowledged the fact that God had ordained Christ to be crucified, but God would not hold these men guiltless because of this fact, instead he would hold them accountable of their sin (cf. Adam, Pharaoh). Pastor Carter defined the intersection God’s sovereignty and human responsibility with the theological term: concurrence. Concurrence is the amazing and incomprehensible truth that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility work together to bring about God’s desired ends. This cooperation does not relieve us of moral responsibility, and nor does it indict God for human sin.

The Goal of Peter’s Sermon

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them…(Acts 2:37-40; ESV).”

After Peter had powerfully made his subject clear, now, as the goal of good preaching, he exhorts them to respond to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peter’s goal was the same as Christ’s goal, that men and women would come to Him as Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit had made this word effectual in the hearts of these men, hence, “they were cut to the heart.”

Do you want to know who this man is?

Jesus Christ came into this world according to the foreordained plan of God. Fortunately, the most important thing in history, mainly, the salvation and hope of humanity, was not left in the hands of fickle human beings. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to faithful gospel proclamation; and for this reason, those who trust in Christ are saved from the penalty of sin.

Jesus Christ is alive! Other men have been crucified, but Jesus was raised from the dead. You have to embrace Jesus or all is lost. No one gets saved by not repenting of their sin. Repentance is a prerequisite to salvation in Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Gospel! Christ is the only hope of humanity from the power, presence, and penalty of sin. Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow over sin and the turning away from it. The call to repentance is not a call to clean up yourself before you come to Jesus; it is a call to acknowledge you are unclean, sick and lost. The gospel is not a negotiation, it is a command to come to Christ in faith, hear His word as supreme authority, believe Him as your only hope of salvation, and repent of your sin against Him (cf. Is. 55, Matt. 11:25-28)!

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

What I’m Reading Now

March 8, 2014

It has been a while since my last installment of what I’m reading now. However, don’t take that as a sign that nothing is being read.  Contraire mon frère!  Weekly sermon preparation requires much reading. And preaching through Acts seems to require more than usual.  Still, besides the books I am reading that are particularly profitable for the weekly expositions, I am also reading other fruitful and even enjoyable books as well.  Consider these:

How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek Thomas.  This book (currently free on Kindle by the way :)) is essentially a series of sermons on Romans 8 preached by Derek Thomas at the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, MS.  And though at times it reads a little choppy (as sermons turned into books can at times), don’t let that distract you.  This book is filled with soul-boosting truth.  Romans 8 has been called by many, their favorite chapter in the Bible.  Thomas treats it with the respect it deserves and reminds us why so many us find comfort in the words found there in.

 The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck.  Though I am not a big fiction fan, this book recently caught my eye. My wife received a Kindle Fire for her birthday. We looked around for a good entertaining book to break in her new device. The Pecan Man was recommended as To Kill a Mockingbird meets The Help. We enjoyed both of those books so why not give The Pecan Man a try.  Good idea. Good read. Good story. It is not often I am reading the same book my wife is reading.  It is great to be able to converse about an interesting, mutually enjoyable read.

Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller.  This is actually a re-read.  Currently we are reading Counterfeit Gods in our Home Fellowship Groups at East Point Church. Personally, I enjoy Keller’s writing.  Even when I disagree with him, I yet find him insightful, engaging, readable, and provocative.  Counterfeit Gods is my favorite of Keller’s many books I have read.  Perhaps it is because idols are more prevalent in our lives and the church than we are willing to admit. A careful reading of Keller makes this painfully, and yet Christ-exaltingly true.

A Praying Life by Paul Miller.  This was recommended to me by one of the sisters in our church.  I had heard of this book previously. However, I have read my share of books on prayer, so I was not particular about reading another. After all, what more could be said, right?  However, her enthusiasm for the book struck me as at least garnering a look. Also if we are honest, few, if any of us pray as we ought and therefore perhaps Miller’s book would spur me on once again to pursue more diligently this neglected and most precious of graces.

By the way, just received my brother Thabiti’s new book Captivated.  Looking to begin that one as soon as I finish The Pecan Man.  Gotta hurry up. Can’t let my wife finish before me!

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