EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 17)
He did the impossible. He defeated death on our behalf. Peter continues his Pentecost message by telling the throng that “Death Could Not Hold Him.” Neither will it hold His real followers.
22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.”
Imagine that. He defeated death. One of the first sermons I ever remember hearing from my first pastor was entitled something along the lines of “Death Could Not Hold Him.” This man was a great preacher. He could paint a word story that kept us enthralled, filled with emoting and tone changes, teaching all the while. He made a man feel like he was there.
So one thinks about this tricky human condition called death. We seem somewhat invincible in our youth—working all day at hard physical toil, staying up late at night, always having so much energy, a few hours of sleep and we’re back at it. But then slowly but surely a few things start going south. The only thing to do is continue staying a step ahead of the grim reaper. We go from laughing in his face to eventually facing the fact that he will win. Facing this reality can be a killer.
But thanks to the Lord He saw a young man with a hungry heart longing for truth and presented an opportunity I did not mess up. Dodging a million bullets since—those unseen slugs that often otherwise find their mark— the Lord blessed with a never-say-die desire to keep moving forward. This comes only by His Holy Spirit. If you live for God you will get knocked down. You can either stay there or get back up. And this is not because death does not await, but because death will not win after all. Because my Father GOT BACK UP, I will too, and so will you if you put your trust in Him. In the meantime the victory comes by laughing death in the face anyway and trying to live absolutely as long as possible working and living for the Lord the whole way. My advice is quit thinking in terms of years remaining and start thinking in terms of decades remaining. More decades means having that many more opportunities to serve the Lord who saved us from death because He died in our place.
There was an old church song we sang in my rookie year that sums up what our attitude should be in this regard. It had a big impact on me because it wasn’t just a song but my life. It was called The Old Account. It featured these lyrics:
There was a time on earth when in the book of Heav’n
An old account was standing for sins yet unforgiv’n;
My name was at the top, and many things below—
I went unto the Keeper, and settled long ago.
Long ago, long ago,
Yes, the old account was settled long ago;
And the record’s clear today, for He washed my sins away,
When the old account was settled long ago.
The old account was large, and growing every day,
For I was always sinning, and never tried to pay;
But when I looked ahead, and saw such pain and woe,
I said that I would settle—I settled long ago.
Until one becomes a real Christian one will never know just exactly what the Lord did by becoming one of us. He actually risked everything. Now, stay with me here because this might get a tad deep. God wanted to ransom humanity. But it obviously could not involve coercion. Each person must decide on his own. But no one could ever defeat death because no one could live without sin. Once Adam released sin into the world all humans have become smitten with it, or might I say slapped upside the head. Someone would have to enter humanity and live a full life without ever committing even a single sin. Someone must be able to actually keep the Law of Moses without violation. You see where this is going.
And no, God didn’t spy His good young Son and tap him on the shoulder and tell Him to go. No father would ever do that to his son. A real father would always go in place of his son. The reality is that the Son did not exist until the Incarnation. There was no such “Eternal Son” in heaven. The only God there was God. And He would have to go Himself. But when He arrived on earth He would have to live a perfect life, something otherwise impossible for us mere mortals. Yet, if He had only sinned once, and it was certainly possible, the entire plan would have been wrecked. There would be no spotless Lamb of God to sacrifice. There would be no Blood of the Lamb to cleanse us of our sins. All humanity would be lost including the Lord Himself. And death would win. And the devil would win the universe.
The Good News is that the Lord did not sin. Not once. And because of that He confidently looked death square in the face with no fear. He would certainly die but would not stay dead. Why? Because “Death Could Not Hold Him.”
For many Christians, a probable majority, there is little or no self-identification with the Lord’s great sacrifice. His sacrifice may be acknowledged but that’s no good. It must be applied. And that can only happen if a person surrenders to Him completely, holding nothing back, and burning all bridges in the process. We must throw ourselves upon the altar of burnt offering and die in order to receive His help and be reborn. There is no other way. Halfway Christianity takes people all the way to hell.
“Your mission Jim, should you choose to accept it, is to get the big idea that God became a Man, lived a life of absolutely no sin, followed the path and plan perfectly, and then sacrificed it all for you. He knew He would be getting back up, but what He really wants is to see you get back up.”
I will leave you with one of my favorite sayings of the Lord Jesus that perfectly typifies His powerful no fear approach to His coming death. He always knew what would happen. It was why He came. That didn’t make it any easier but that much more difficult. How many of us guys, if we knew the death we were about to die, would stick with the plan? But not only did He stick with the plan, He slammed death, hell, and the grave as wimps! He called them out for the lowdown disgusting sorry idiots they are and was even willing to let them hit Him first with their best shot. And boy howdy, did they ever comply. Even then, though, it was not enough. They knew the stakes. They had their opportunity. And they failed. They failed because He was too much Man for them. They simply did not understand who they were messing with.
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up!” [John 2:19] 
© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Posted on May 2, 2020, in Teaching and tagged Apostle Peter, Blood of Jesus, Door of Death, Door of Life, Lord Jesus, Resurrection, Sinners Saved By Grace, The Day of Pentecost, The New Birth, The Sacrifice Lamb. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.