Dr. Tom Berry

As always, the Christmas season has been a wonderful time of celebrating our Savior's birth for the Berry family.  A special part of our Christmas celebration involved our trip to Georgia to visit with my older son, Dan, his wife, Kathy and two daughters, Heather and Megan.  A real highlight was joining approximately 1500 other Christians at a candlelight service that included an observance of the Lord's supper.  On Christmas day we were joined by Kathy's parents, Mark and Billie Anderson, for a gift exchange and dinner.  Mildly put, our fellowship was joyful and jovial.

During our visit my mind went back to a time when Dan was about five years old.  We were preparing to spend the Christmas holidays with my parents in Dallas, Texas.  Dan wanted to do his own  packing, so we thought we would let him have a go at it. When he was finished we examined his suitcase and found his Bible; a set of handcuffs; a lump of modeling clay; a gun and holster; two pairs of pants; one pajama bottom and two encyclopedias.  Needless to say, if we had not intervened he would have left some very needed  things behind.

When Jesus left earth and went back to Heaven He left some things behind.  Unlike my young son, everything He left behind was left with His full knowledge and approval.

Luke wrote, "The former account I made, O Theophilus of all that Jesus began both to do and teach..."  (Acts 1:1)  Jesus began a work which He left us to finish.  He died for our sins in order that we might not have to be punished for our sins.  He rose from the dead as a guarantee that He can raise all Christians in victory over the grave.  He ascended to Heaven to be our high priest with authority to forgive sins.  But, He left behind the unfinished task of telling all men this gospel story of salvation.  It will remain unfinished as long as there is one person who has not heard how to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.  We must witness to individuals; preach to the masses; send the gospel around the world.  By personal soulwinning, public preaching, gospel literature; radio and television; and every means we must work at letting every human being know of the salvation available through faith in Him.

Luke continued, "...To whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days..."  (Acts 1:3). 
     John Singleton Copley, known as Lord Lyndhurst, is considered one of the greatest legal minds of British history.  He served Britain as Solicitor-General, Attorney General and High Chancellor of England.  He was also the High Steward of the University of Cambridge.  When he died, a document was found in his desk which gave an account of his Christian faith.  It included the following statement, "I know pretty well what evidence is; and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never broken down yet."  The evidence for Christ's resurrection include infallible proofs.
1.  Jesus foretold His resurrection.
2.  Nothing else reasonable explains the emptied tomb which was guarded by Roman soldiers.
3.  Only resurrection explains His appearances to so many people:  Mary Magdalene; the woman returning from the grave; Peter; the Emmaeus disciples;  the ten apostles on the first Sunday evening; the eleven Apostles one week later; the disciples fishing at Galilee;  over 500 brethren at once; to James and the apostles and the disciples at the time of His ascension.
4.  Only a resurrected Christ could transform clinging disciples into crusading preachers.
5.  Only a resurrected Christ could have converted Saul of Tarsus.
     The founders of every other religion died and were buried.  Only Christ arose from the grave with a glorified body.  His irrefutable resurrection proves that He is the only trustworthy One Who can take us to Heaven.

Luke recorded the last words of Jesus, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Sam aria, and to the end of the earth."  (Acts 1:8).  Peter's deepest resolve was to die before he denied Christ yet he melted before a maid and denied Christ with cursing.  But lo, we see him on the day of Pentecost preaching fearlessly.  We see him on trial before the same men who engineered the death of Christ from the human standpoint, and he is as bold as a lion (See Acts 4:12, 13).  What is the explanation of this transformation?  It is found in Acts 4:8, "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, ..."  Power, to live in victory over sin; to conquer fear; to win souls to Christ.  Yes!  Christ left behind unlimited power and that power is available to every child of God who will allow the Holy Spirit to possess them.

Acts 1:2, "He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles..."   Shall God love all men; give His Son to die for all men; make possible salvation for all men and not provide a means whereby all men can receive the message of truth?  Unthinkable! 
Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."  (Matthew 24:35).
Paul said, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God..."  (2nd Timothy 3:16).
Peter said, "...Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."  (2nd Peter 1:21).
Men and women, you can stand with confidence on the sure Word of God.  Young people, step firmly on the promises of God.  They will never tremble beneath your feet.

"...This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."  (Acts 1:11).    Jesus is coming again.  He promised He would return.  "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again..."  (John 14:3).  It has been nearly 2000 years since He went to heaven.  Kingdoms have risen and fallen.  Spiritual darkness has at times covered much of the earth being dispelled only by revival and great missionary effort.  Saints have been sorely persecuted even unto death.  Has His promise become of none effect?  Shall we despair that He shall return to receive His own?  Never!  Our hearts beat with expectation.  Our faith does not falter.  The Word of God shall not fail.  Jesus shall return.  His coming is hindered only by those lost souls yet to be won in this age of the church.  When their heart's doors are opened to the Savior then He shall come in clouds and receive to Himself all the redeemed.

It is possible that the last one to be saved before His return is right now bowing their head to ask His forgiveness and salvation.  If it is so, are you ready?


Copyright 2002 Thomas E Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted


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