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The Resurrection Matters, Part 3

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of Christianity. Without Jesus literally rising from the dead, there is no Christianity. So far we have seen how the resurrection impacts various aspects of our lives. Let’s look at another way the resurrection of Christ changes our lives to glorify God. (See 1 Corinthians 10:31)

The resurrection of Christ helps me to see my current circumstances, no matter what they may be, as an opportunity to make Christ known to others. Often we think if God would change our circumstances or those ‘certain people’ in our lives, then we could make Jesus known to others easier. Although we all want things changed at times, it’s not the case that we need things to change in order to speak to others about Jesus. The apostle Paul was in prison at the end of his life. He met a gruesome death from the Roman government for preaching the gospel. What was his mindset while in prison? How did the resurrection of Christ affect his outlook? “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!” (2 Timothy 2:8-9)

What a perspective considering his current situation! Paul, bound in chains, under constant guard, and facing his execution mere days away expresses great confidence in making Christ known! They thought putting him in prison would stop him but he just started telling the Roman guards about Jesus. Now this is where God’s wisdom outdoes our wisdom! Roman soldiers were regularly moved around to various posts and missions. Sometimes they would watch prisoners. Sometimes they would sail across the waters to fight a battle. Sometimes they would escort important dignitaries. Think of all the people and places a Roman soldier who had committed his life to Christ would be able to reach with the good news of Jesus! Whereas Paul was one man traveling the world, but now in prison he can reach soldiers with the good news who would then take the message of Jesus into all the world! In short, we might think the work of God was hindered because Paul was in jail. But God used his very imprisonment to help spread the gospel over the whole world!

Look at again Paul had hope: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…” If God can take a dead body and give it life, He can do the same thing with my “dead situation and circumstances” to bring “life” to other people. So what “prison” are you facing? Do you know that God wants to use you right now to make Christ known to others? You may think the gospel is imprisoned, but a rock-walled, sealed tomb of Jesus could not keep life from going forth to change the world for God’s glory!

 

The Resurrection Matters, Part 2

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! Last week we saw that without the resurrection of Christ, forgiveness of sins is not even possible. Further, our faith is useless. We should drink and dope ourselves into oblivion if Christ is not raised from the dead! (See 1 Corinthians 15:14,32) But He has been raised and so there is hope for forgiveness of our wickedness if we turn to Christ alone for rescue. But biblically speaking, how else does the resurrection of Christ impact our lives when we follow Christ?

Christ’s resurrection becomes the basis and guarantee of Christian’s resurrection and glorification. Now what do these words mean? Sin and death came into the world through Adam, but righteousness and life comes through Jesus Christ. “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 ) In short, Adam brought death but Christ will bring life even for those who are in the grave who have trusted Him! Christ will raise me from the dust of the earth, no matter how much corruption my body undergoes! He knows where every molecule of my body is in order to put it back together and raise it up when He returns! Since He created the whole universe from nothing, it should be no problem for His power and wisdom to put my body back together! Because Christ conquered the grave, those who are His will also be raised with that same power that raised Christ from the dead!

Glorification happens at the resurrection. What does this mean? It means that I will never again have a sinful heart, a broken body, or any death to face. I will live in perfect righteousness and fullness of fellowship with the Lord Himself. My body will not only be raised from the dead, but glorified, that is, made ready for my eternal living with Christ! “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:41-44 ) To say we will have a “spiritual” body doesn’t mean that we will be ghost-like. It means that we will have the bodies we have now changed to never face death and prepared to enjoy all the spiritual realities that await us!

It’s when we look at what God has done in the past in raising Christ from the dead that I can look at the future and face my own death without absolute panic! Why? “Because I (Jesus) live, you also will live.” (John 14:19) The bottom line question is this: when you die, will you live again with Christ? Have you committed your heart and life to follow the One who has overcome the grave?

The Resurrection Matters, Part 1

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! When you read the New Testament letters, you find it teaches on a multitude of issues: marriage, relationships, conflict, church order, leadership qualifications, divorce, singleness, administration, end time prophecy, salvation, etc. Interesting enough, the Apostle Paul states, “I determined to know NOTHING among you except Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) How can Paul talk about all these various issues and yet state he doesn’t want to talk about anything else except Christ and Him crucified? Is Paul just expressing a desire that he would like to talk about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection all the time but can’t due to all the other issues that need addressed in life? Or is there something else going on a deeper level that connects all of these other issue around Christ and His work? The latter is the case if we will take time for a closer look at what the bible actually teaches about these various topics.

Biblically speaking, we have to say from the beginning that if Christ is not raised then there is no possibility for having our sins forgiven. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17) If Christ had not been raised from the dead, then that would have been proof to us that Jesus failed at making forgiveness of sins possible. But listen to Romans 4:25 and how Christ’s resurrection proves that His payment for sin was complete! Jesus, “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Why did He rise? Remember a fundamental truth of scripture: “The payment for sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Since Christ had fully paid the price for our sins, death could not keep Him. He HAD to come back to life!!!

Think about Acts 2:24, “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” It was impossible for death to hold Him, not just because He was all powerful (and He is!) but because death no longer could legally be imposed on Him since there was no sin left to die for!!! Praise the Lord!  So when we come to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, when we turn from living for ourselves and surrender to Christ, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the full price for my sins. How so? He rose from the dead. Because sin was defeated, death lost its grip on Him! And if you have placed your life trust in Christ, then you too are guaranteed to rise from the grave. Since Jesus has become my sin bearer, I will rise since I have no more sin to answer for before God! Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe! Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow! There’s much more to cover next week but if you are Christian, will you just take time now to give praise and thanks that Jesus’ resurrection proves God has taken care of all your sin? If you are not a Christian, isn’t it time to surrender to Jesus who showed you so much love in His cross?

 

God’s Glory, Part 2

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! Last week we looked at how God’s glory is what all reality is about. We’ve also seen that we were created to reflect God’s glory but we seek to mar and twist it by our sin. The essence of sin is to not show God for who He is in His glorious majesty by our lives, desires, actions, and words. This sin separates us from God and results in our condemnation. But Christ came to restore us as ones who live once again for the glory of God. But how does this look in day to day life? If reality is ultimately about God’s glory, where does the concern for my life come into play? Biblically speaking, the wonderful good news is that God has wrapped His glory up in my good. Let’s look at a few scriptural examples.

God’s glory is the basis and goal of my salvation. I can be assured that God is concerned about my salvation because He wants to make His glory known! 1 Chronicles 16:35 says, “Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” In this verse, my good is me being saved and as a result God gets the glory!  Second, God gets glory when I get encouraged by Him. Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” So why not pray this way when you are discouraged? “Lord, please encourage and strengthen me to honor you so that you may get glory!”

Another way God has wrapped His glory up in us is by turning our suffering into good. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17) Romans 8:28 says God will make all things work for good for those who love Him. Our suffering is never wasted. In fact, God will turn it in such a way that He will work it for our good to prepare us to rejoice in His glorious presence. Just think: God is as committed to making your suffering turn to your good as He is to Him getting praised for who He is!

Fourth, God has promised to keep us as His people despite our many failings and sin for His glory. “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.” (Psalm 106:7-8) Why will we make it to heaven after we trust Jesus even though we will still sin many more times? Because God is going to get glory for doing so! We can be assured of our salvation once and for all because God is eternally concerned about Himself getting glory. May the Lord Jesus be praised for His glorious grace!

God’s Glory, Part 1

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! Ever wonder why it is we drive hundreds of miles to look at the Grand Canyon? Or why some people jump out of airplanes just for the thrill of it? Or why some can gaze intently at a masterpiece painting for hours? At the heart of all that we do, we are looking for God’s glory. But what do we mean by God’s glory and why is it the driving force of our lives?

The glory of God is something we have often heard about but do we really know what it means? Paul says, “Whether we eat or drink, we should do it all for God’s glory.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) The word “glory” in the Old Testament means ‘weight’ or ‘substance’. There is a weightiness to God’s character and being.  We often use this in a negative way in our area when we talk about someone who is not a decent person. We say, “There’s nothing to him.” What we mean is that there isn’t any character qualities in the person that’s worthy of mention. But not so with God. He is full of glory and “weightiness.”

If you think of an addition problem it might help to understand what God’s glory means. 1+2+3+4+5=11. If we ‘added’ up all of God’s character and attributes, the ‘sum total’ of them would ‘equal’ the glory of God. For example, God’s infinite wisdom, plus all power, plus mercy, plus His justice, etc. equals ‘the glory of God!’ It is, without trying to be redundant, the God-ness of God! “Who is like the Lord?” (Psalm 113:5) The answer: not anyone or anything! “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5)

We are made for God’s glory. We are made to reflect God in what we are and what we do. The problem is that we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) This means that we have deliberately disobeyed God’s commands to reflect His character. In short, we decided to break the mirrors that show forth who God is and what God is like. We have sought to eclipse God’s glory and ruin what God is like in our own eyes and in the eyes of others.  And the penalty for this is death.

Death in the bible doesn’t mean the end of something. It means ‘separation.’ Because we have sinned against God’s glory, we are separated from Him relationally right now. We know about God but we don’t know Him relationally because we have sought to shatter His glory. Further, if we die in this condition, we will be separated from Him forever. We will be forever ruined, living in a broken reality called hell where the beauty God’s glory is hidden from our eyes and experience. But there is good news. Jesus came to restore the glory of God! He died to pay sin’s penalty: death. He rose again to show His work was complete and accepted by the Father. And we can be restored to show God’s glory if we would turn from our God glory robbing sin to follow Jesus who is the glory of the invisible God! (Hebrews 1:3) More next week!

Happy Resurrection Day!

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! It’s time to celebrate Resurrection Sunday! This week I want to give you a few evidences that point to the reality of the Christ’s resurrection so that you can see that Jesus’ resurrection is based on fact and reality. So let’s begin!

Some skeptics say Jesus’ disciples were so devastated at losing Him that they made up the idea of the resurrection to give them hope of going on. But this view doesn’t account for the multiple sightings by various people in different situations of the resurrected Christ. Also, the tomb was still empty. All the Roman or Jewish opposition had to do was go to the grave, produce the body of Jesus and stop the new belief in Jesus’ resurrection. But the fact was they couldn’t produce the body because He was not there. He had risen, just as He said! (Matthew 28:6). Further, how do you account for those who didn’t believe in the resurrection at first later being convinced that they had seen a formerly dead man now alive?! (eg. John 20:25-27)

Another attempt to discredit the resurrection is to say that it was all based on hallucinations. People can get in such a frenzy that they can hallucinate anything! This is true but several things need to be kept in mind. One, there is still the empty tomb. No amount of hallucinations solves the issue of the empty tomb and the missing body. Two, people do not have mass hallucinations. An individual may hallucinate but not entire groups with the same hallucination. Remember, multiple people in various scenarios saw the resurrected Christ. Three, all of the sightings of Jesus were consistent with each other. This was no hallucination!

Perhaps the biggest attempt at dismissing the resurrection is to say that someone stole the body. There are multiple problems with this theory. One, again is all of the credible witnesses in various places over 40 days that saw and touched the resurrected Christ. Two, neither the Romans nor Jewish leaders would have stolen the body because their whole point was to show Jesus was dead! Why not produce the body of Jesus once the disciples started preaching the resurrection and just produce the body? They couldn’t. They couldn’t because He had been raised. But what if the disciples stole the body? This doesn’t work either. Again, most of them fled at His crucifixion and were in hiding. The ones that stayed knew that the tomb was heavily guarded by Roman soldiers. These soldiers’ lives were at risk if they lost a prisoner. In short, they would be executed if they failed at guarding the tomb of Jesus. The soldiers on pain of their life would not let unarmed disciples take the body. Also, if you’re a disciple, why die for preaching the resurrection of Christ if you know it’s a lie? Sure one or two might. But all of the disciples except John died for preaching Christ. John merely died of old age preaching the resurrection!

Friends, there are many more “convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3) for the resurrection Christ. But why not give thanks for the hope we can have beyond the grave because of Christ’s resurrection! Happy Resurrection Day!

Are you a Mary or Martha?

April 26, 2016

Grace to you! Often times the message we hear from church is that we all need to get out of our pews and serve more. But there can be a time when serving actually hinders our relationship with Jesus Christ. Biblically speaking, there needs to be a balance and priority.

Listen to these words from Luke 10:38-42, “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching . But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Notice how serving the Lord can potentially cause problems. First, it can cause problems if we over commit to activities instead of spending time with Jesus. Martha was culturally expected to host Jesus and all His disciples. This was no small feat in a day when all meals were made from scratch. Jesus told her that her focus on activities was causing her to fear and worry. Busyness in church life can be a joy killer. Many people are busy but not productive. Productivity comes first by sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Second, serving the Lord can cause problems with other people if we are more focused on activity than Jesus. Martha is not only a busybody, but now she’s upset with Mary for not helping! (vs 40) She even scolds Jesus for not making Mary help her! When you begin to have problems with others in the church for not serving like you do or getting frustrated with the Lord for not moving others to do what you do, then you know that you have become more focused on the activity than sitting first at Jesus’ feet.

Third, serving the Lord can cause use problems when we over assume authority. Martha not only assumed she had to take care of everything, but she assumed because she was serving so much she had the right to tell Mary what to do. Have you become bossy of others? Do you overstep your bounds in the church with others about what they do or how they do it? If so, it’s a clear sign you have forgotten to sit first at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him!

Jesus’ reminds Martha that only one thing is necessary: spending time with Him! In life there will always be opportunities for service and activity at church. But spending time with Christ is far more important than activities. This is not to say we shouldn’t serve or be active. But it is an issue of priorities in the right order. If we spend time in worship, then that will direct and guard all of our activities for the Lord. Our service will be a blessing rather than a burden for us and others if we sit at Jesus’ feet first!

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