Jack Graham - We are Alive
Hello, everyone, and welcome to Prestonwood. We are so glad that you have joined us online. And looking forward to sharing a message with you right after Easter, after one of the most unforgettable Easters we've ever experienced, even though we weren't in buildings, churches around the world were proclaiming the love of God, the life of Christ, the risen Savior. And now we're asking the question what is next? Well, the title of this message is "We are Alive". Yes, you, me, we are alive because Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life and whoever believes in me though he be dead, yet shall he live".
So, because Christ is alive, we also are alive. And Jesus has given us His Church, His people as the living, breathing body of Christ today. He said, "I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it". And so, when we look at the church today and we ask ourselves, "What are we to be doing in these times? What is our why? Why are we here? Why do we exist"? We need to go back to the beginning, right back to the New Testament times, the first century and discover our mission, our mandate that comes from the Living Christ. Because we are alive!
One day Billy Graham was preaching a revival crusade up north somewhere and a very liberal minister who didn't believe in what Billy was preaching, He said, "You know, if Billy Graham comes to our city, he'll set Christianity back one hundred years". And Billy heard about it and they asked him "What do you think about that"? And he said, "I don't want to set Christianity back one hundred years". He said, "I want to set it back 2000 years". Yes, we want to go all the way back to the beginning when the church was birthed, and because we learn there who we are and what we are to be about. Because I believe we are seeing signs, symptoms, if you will, of spiritual awakening in America and even around the world.
People are asking questions. People want to know is there hope? People are so fearful, afraid, anxious, depressed. Hotlines are skyrocketing in terms of calls because people are suicidal in these times. Losing jobs, losing their wealth, losing their health, and people don't know where to turn. There's so much emptiness and so much loneliness. People have tried so many different things. They've tried, you know, self-help or tried philosophy or even psychology or tried pleasure or tried possessions; and none of these things satisfy. So, I believe that the world, people all around us are giving us, the Church of Jesus Christ, an opportunity. An opportunity to show them and to share with them real hope, real life. And that's what I'm going to be talking about today. Because we are alive because Christ is alive.
And there are three things that I want you to see in a passage of Scripture in Acts chapter 2 that show us who we are, what we're to be, as the Church. Beginning in verse 21 of Acts chapter 2, Peter stands up on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit arrives in great power like fire igniting the Church, Peter stood up, the same Peter who ran in fear and cowardice when he denied the Lord, yet he is now restored, he is full of the Holy Spirit. You know, one thing that I've said here at Prestonwood for many, many years is what we need to do is to get the roof off and the walls down. Get the roof off and the walls down.
You say, "What do you mean by that"? Get the roof off so that we can get God's Spirit in, God in His Church. Get the roof off! And when we get the roof off and the Spirit comes down, we get the walls down and the Church goes out. So, in our generation let this be a time when the Spirit of God floods us and fills us with His Spirit, fires us to a new day of fulfilling the Great Commission. Let's get the roof off; let's get the walls down and let's go and do what God has called us to do! So Peter's standing, and he's preaching and he's bringing the seminal message of the Church, but it's the same message of Christ that we preach today. He says in verse 21, Acts chapter 2:"And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved".
Well, that's simple. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. This is a salvation message. In just a few moments I'm going to be giving you an opportunity to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and to be saved. And why would you call upon His name? Because the Scripture says: "hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs (that is, miracles) 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". In other words, the cross, the resurrection, that wasn't plan B. This wasn't an afterthought; this wasn't an accident. But in the infinite mind and heart of God, the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. Jesus went to the cross. He was crucified.
Again verse 23: "and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, loosing the pangs death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it". I love that! Death could not hold its prey. Death could not contain Jesus and He burst forth on the third day; He rose again. Death did not hold Him. And then David the great king says concerning him. This is Peter preaching: "I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope". There it is: the message of living hope Because of what Christ has done, he lived, he died, he rose again. And what happened after the resurrection after Christ was risen? He ascended before the very eyes of the disciples. Forty days after he'd been seen by many and proved to be alive by the resurrection by many infallible proofs according to the Scriptures. There were eyewitnesses to the living Christ and the disciples.
One of the greatest evidences for the Christian faith was the transformation of those disciples from cowardly, cowering in fear to flaming powerful witnesses of the Gospel. Now they're changed by the resurrection, they're filled with the Holy Spirit, and they're lifting up as boldly, courageously proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ and they are exalting Him. This is the one message, the one mission, the one mandate that God has given us and that is we are alive because we are exalting Christ. A church is alive when Jesus is in the midst of that church. Alive, exalted! Jesus said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all unto Myself".
One of the reason in my estimation that God has chosen to bless this church, Prestonwood, in such an amazing way for the past generation is that we have exalted Christ and He is draw to Himself so many who are believing and responding. And just last weekend we saw an amazing response. Over 1000 conversions to Christ recorded when we preached the Gospel last weekend online. It's an incredible thing to me, an amazing thing to me! But it's all about Jesus. It's always about Jesus! And when we get back in our churches in the coming days, and we're going to be regathering churches in the coming weeks and perhaps months. But when we're getting back together, when you're going back to church, make sure that you're engaged, you're involved in a church where Jesus Christ is exalted. Where Christ is Lord; where Christ is crowned as King. Because He is above all. There is no prince, no power, no principality, there is no potentate, there is no president or prime minister, there is no king, there is no lord but one Lord and His name is Jesus! He is the "King of kings, and the Lord of lords".
And when we exalt Christ, when Christ is in the midst of everything, in the middle of everything we are, everything we do, He is our mission, He is our mandate, He is the power, He is the compelling presence of the church when Christ is present. And what is true in the church, is true in your life, is true in your family. If you want to get your family together, you want to get your life together, center your life in Christ. Exalt Jesus as the Lord of your life. The Bible says "God has highly exalted Him (Jesus) and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God".
Every knee is going to bow. Whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, one day you will bow before Jesus. You will either bow for Him in salvation or you will bow before Him in condemnation, depending on whether you have trusted Him or not, whether you have received Him as Savior or not. If you've trusted Him, you will bow before Him in adoration and in salvation, but one day you will - believer or not - bow before the Lord Jesus Christ because He is Lord of life and He is Lord of all. We are alive because we are alive in Christ. He is risen; He has ascended on high. Look again in your Bibles in verses 33 and following. It says after God raised Him up: "Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit".
You see, on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection, 10 days after Christ ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit descended upon those believers gathered in an upper room, just a small band of followers of Jesus. Jesus had told them to go and to wait and to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They did exactly as He told them to do. They waited, and when the Holy Spirit came, then they exploded, they ignited, they united to take the Gospel to the world. And according to the book of Acts, they turned the world upside down. That's what I'm believing! I'm believing while we have been waiting, while we have been praying in these days. Yes, we've been preaching, and yes, we've been serving as a church, but God has taken us to a place of waiting. And I believe when we get back together as God's church, it's going to be different. It's going to be totally different because I believe that revival that we've been waiting for, praying for is on the way!
So, we are alive because we are exalting Christ. We are also alive because we are spreading the Gospel; we are preaching the good news, the Gospel of Christ. You don't have to wonder what the Gospel is. 1 Corinthians 15:1 says: "I declare to you the Gospel, how that Christ died for our sins, rose again on the third day". He rose again on the third day. It's the Gospel of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus. And I don't mind telling you, I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm grateful to be a Gospel preacher! There are many great truths of Scripture to explore. We grow in our faith and deepen our walk with God, but there's no greater message than the the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Again, I say, when you go back to church, and some of you have never been in church. It's been a while since you've been to church, then you get in a church where Christ is exalted and where the Gospel of Jesus is preached. And when that happens, when you're in a church like that, I tell you what happens; people come to faith in Jesus Christ. That's what happened on this day when Peter preached, for in verse 37 it says: "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart", that is, they were convicted. The Holy Spirit was convicting them. I often wonder today, where is the conviction in the church, in churches? We have compromise, we have carnality, we have coldness, but where is Holy Spirit conviction in the church? When the Spirit moves there's a conviction of the heart. And these people who do not know Christ, now they're confronted with their own sin and their conviction and they ran and said "What do we need to do? What do we need to do"?
Again, I'm saying I believe people are giving us a chance right now, if we're faithful with the message, if we're full of God's Spirit, that many will come to us and say what do we need to do? Because so many are hurting, so many feel helpless and they're saying, what do we need to do? They're convicted of their sin and compelled to know more about Christ, know more about how to be saved. So, they came, and Simon Peter gave them a very clear invitation. He said in verse 38: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ". There's that name again! That beautiful name of Jesus. There it is! "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, and receive the gift of the (Holy) Spirit".
What does all that mean? To repent means to turn from your sin and to trust in Jesus Christ. It means you're going in one direction; you turn around, you go in a brand-new direction. It means a change of heart, a change of mind. You're changed by the power of Christ. And when you believe and receive Christ in your life that means you're repenting of your sin; you're turning from your sin and you are receiving Christ and Christ only as your Lord and your Savior. Listen to what Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you will all perish". You will perish without God and without hope, so repent. And these people were repentant. And then Peter said, "Be baptized because of the forgiveness of sin". Because we are forgiven of our sin, because of what Christ has done for us, we want to be baptized as an open testimony of our faith in Christ.
Now water baptism, being baptized in water, it doesn't save; it doesn't help to save. But it demonstrates what Christ has done in your life. It tells people who you are and what you believe. It tells people to whom you belong and what you believe. And actually baptism, if you've ever seen a baptism in water and immersion, which is the New Testament way of baptizing, it demonstrates, it dramatizes really the death and the burial and the resurrection of Christ. So, when you are baptized, you go into the water, you go under the water, you come up out of the water, that's baptism and that is because you have believed in Christ. Because you have professed your faith in Jesus Christ. Our profession of faith in Jesus Christ is always public. It's deeply private, what we believe, but it's always professed publicly.
The people that Jesus called to Himself in the Gospel, He called openly to follow Him. Don't be ashamed of Jesus. And the first opportunity you have when your church, and our church is gathering again, we're going to be baptizing and I want to encourage you to profess your faith in Jesus Christ and to be baptized as a follower, as a believer in Jesus Christ. And then he said, "receive the gift of the (Holy) Spirit". That means Christ comes to live in you. When you repent, when you receive the forgiveness of sin then the Holy Spirit of God lives in us! "Christ in you, the hope of glory". You are alive in Christ. Paul said, the great apostle, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me".
So, you see what happens here when we preach Christ and the Gospel; Christ exalted, magnified and glorified? People are convicted of their sins and then they are converted by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the primary job, the one main job that God has given us and that is to evangelize people, to bring people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. From death to life, from hopelessness to hope in Jesus Christ. But there's one final thing I want you to see and that not only we are alive because we are exalting Christ and we are evangelizing people who need Jesus, but now we are engaging the church in growing and becoming all that He designed us to be. Well, verse 41 says: "So they that received the word were baptized, and there was added to that day (Notice they added them to the church. They became a part of the family of God, the Church) three thousand souls".
On that one day! Three thousand professed their faith in Jesus Christ, they were baptized. First day the church was born but that wasn't the end; it wasn't a decision; it became a discipleship because verse 42 says: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, and the breaking of bread, and prayers". In other words they got together in the body of faith and believers began to meet together, study God's Word together, pray together, share Christ. They're engaging now, the fellowship of the church, and growing together as a family of God. They continued steadfastly, strongly in their faith in Jesus Christ. And that's what I'm challenging our church and Christians all over the world to do in these days, to gather with your church.
As long as we need to be doing it this way, we'll be doing it, but when the doors are open and we're filling our churches and buildings and rooms once again, make sure you align yourself, you attach yourself, you assemble yourselves with the body of Christ, with Christians who exalt Jesus Christ, full of the Holy Spirit who preach God's Word, who teach God's truth. Get in a church like that and again, growing in your faith. You see what's happening? There's salvation; they are repenting and receiving; they're confessing and professing; and now they're living in the power of the Holy Spirit. They're alive, alive, alive! Please, please, don't just watch church.
I appreciate the opportunity through media to teach God's Word, to preach Christ and the Gospel. I really do. Our television ministry, radio ministry's a powerful witness. We thank God for this. We thank God for the ability to come to you online today. But none of this is a substitute for your engagement, your involvement in a local fellowship and New Testament church of Jesus Christ. And so, the first opportunity you have, find a church, get in a church! Engage yourself in the body of those believers! We want to get back to work. That's what we're hearing today. We need to get the country back to work.
Well, I'm saying, we need to get the church back to work! And when we get back to work, we'll be witnessing, we'll be giving, we'll be sharing, we'll be exalting Christ, we'll be doing all of these things that will be an advance of the kingdom of God. It will be a spiritual explosion! I'm believing it for the future! That there will be a spiritual explosion and an expansion of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we're going to come back better and stronger than we have ever been. And we're not going to be doing this in our own strength. "Not by might", Zechariah 4:6, "'Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord". We'll be doing it with renewed faith and vision and courage and conviction and in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are alive! Be brave! Be strong! Be bold. He is with us; He is in us. We are His Church!
Some of you have never made that decision in your life to trust in Christ as your Savior. I'm going to invite you to do that, as we always do at Prestonwood. We always invite people at the end of our messages, at the end of our services to openly follow Christ. And we can do that right now. You can trust in Christ. You say, "How will I do that"? Simply pray this prayer, and it's a prayer that must come from your heart as you repent of your sin, and receive Christ. But pray like this:
Lord Jesus, Thank You for loving me, dying on the cross for my sins. I believe You rose again. And right now I ask you to come into my life. In Your name, Lord Jesus, I ask you to come into my life, forgive my sins, change my heart, make me Your child, and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, may I live for You all the days of my life till You come for me or call me home.
Pray that prayer right now. Invite Christ into your life. Some of you, you're already a Christian but you haven't been involved in church. You've been away from the Lord primarily. You've been out of church. You've not been serving. There are things in your life. But this has gotten your attention. This whole pandemic. God is getting your attention. And He's been speaking to your heart about renewing your faith and getting back, coming back spiritually.
You can do that today by rededicating your life. Renewing your faith. The Christian life is a series of new beginnings. This can be a new beginning for you as a Christian. So why don't you pray something like this: Lord Jesus, I'm coming back to You today. I been far away, but I'm coming back home. And I want to renew my faith. Lord Jesus, be the Lord of my life. Take command, take control of me. Fill me with Your Spirit. Use me for Your glory. Make a new beginning in Christ in your life today.