resurrection

Embrace The Truth

Truth.  We want to know it and yet so often ignore it.  The truth hurts.  Believe me, I know.  I was just reflecting on my early days of preaching and the feedback I would incur.  Of course nothing is quite as convincing as listening to the recording and realizing that their criticism is right.  But we need to hear and apply truth.

In John 18 Pilate is seeking the truth from Jesus until he finally looks at Jesus in verse 18 and says “What is truth?”  The then walks away.  Why?  Why not wait for a response?

I think that Pilate was getting a little too close to the truth for comfort.  Maybe if I don’t know what the truth is, I can live life however I want.  But Pilate then goes to the crowd and asks them what he should do.  Isn’t that just like the human heart?

 

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What is the truth?   

In our homes we have the Word of God and direct access to God through Christ.  We have no excuse for not knowing and living the truth.  But where do we go?  Popular opinions.  We go to the hot topics of the day and rather than applying Biblical truth to our lives, we look for ways around it.

As we come to Resurrection Sunday this week, may we be surrendered to the truth and embrace the truth.

Jesus, after all, said that He is the truth!  

 

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A Resurrection to Celebrate All Year

05_08_10---Cross-at-Sunset_webThe many people heading to church this weekend proves that the resurrection is still an important part of our ethos, whether admitted to or not.  Would tradition alone drive so many people to attend church only a couple of times a year?  Would it make any sense to go sing some songs about a risen Lord, if you did not believe in Him?  This is a tension I feel every year because I do not understand how anyone can live under the gracious hand of God and not feel some emotion toward Him more than twice a year.  When did church become something to watch and critique rather than a chance to worship the Lord with others, declaring His worth together?  That is a discussion for another time because today is Easter Sunday- a.k.a. Resurrection Sunday.  Regardless of the reasons for the spike in church attendance, it is an opportunity to point as many people as possible to Jesus Christ!  He is the hope of the world.

So, let’s boldly proclaim Christ this Easter Sunday because He has saved us!  This is not a message made for only one day a year, but rather for every day of our life.  Our life should worship God and shine light on the person of Jesus Christ.

Every Sunday we gather and remember this: “He arose!  He arose!  Hallelujah, Christ arose!”   This resurrection changed everything and we have nothing to complain about.

A Life Changed By Love

IMG_1623Love changes people.  Love changes situations.  Love changes cultures.  Do you believe that?  I know the word ‘love’ has confusing connotations in our culture.  Movies depict an image of love as this magical force that overtakes people to the point that they cannot control it – it is called “falling in love.”  That seems nice and for those who are hopeless romantics, it is appealing and sells movies.  But what does love really look like and what does it do to us?

Love changes us.  It makes us buy stuffed animals, flowers and chocolates.  Love allows me to sit up with my children when they are not feeling well and help them when they have bad dreams, even though I am tired and I know they won’t be in the morning.  Love changes people.  Love gives us new perspectives, specifically one outside of us.

Love does not originate in us, despite what we think.  Love originates with God.  God is love.   He gives love away willingly, namely through Jesus Christ.  With that being said, there are two specific ways this is highlighted in 1 John 3.

We are adopted into God’s Family

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him”. – 1 John 3:1

There is sense of astonishment to this love!  How could it be that God would love us so much that He would incorporate us into His family.   If you are adopted into a family, you take on an identity in that family and assume the same rights as others in the family.

God does this even better than we ever could. He lavishes us with His love.  That would mean it is abundant, never-ending, unlimited. That being said, we must consider what exactly this does in order to realize how astonishing it really is.  This adoption provides a future for us when we will see Jesus face to face.    Before we were adopted into God’s family, we were considered objects of wrath, enemies of God because of our sin.  There would have been no way we would ever have been sitting as his table eating dinner together.  But oh what a difference it makes when we are forgiven and loved in Christ.  Our position changes.

This love changes our future.  This love also changes our present situation because Jesus took our sin to the grave and arose victorious over it.

The Devil’s Work is Destroyed

The main goal of the devil is to take away from God’s glory.  He sets out to get people to rebel against God and really to destroy people. That was the problem with sin.  Sin needs to be taken seriously.  It is wickedness and a product of ignorance and blindness toward God.  Why?  Because in Him is no sin.  When we sin we chose that which is not of God.  Sin is satanic by nature, even the smallest sin runs in direct opposition to the work of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ appeared to take away our sin so that we could be in a relationship with God through Him.  God did this because He loves us.

The point is very simple.  If you have encountered the love of God, you will not be the same after.  If you stand before the cross, seeing Jesus dying there for the things that you have done, how do you live in response to that?  What love!  Not many people will die for someone else, especially someone who is completely against them.But God loved the world, you, me, everyone you will meet today— so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, perfect and sinless, to come show His perfect way to us and take all of the sin of the world on his shoulders – offering to all who would believe eternal life—salvation—a place with him in heaven forever!

Do you know Him?  We are in the season of Easter,  a time when we especially remember what Jesus did for us.  Let’s not go through the motions without being completely astonished by the love of God.  It is far beyond us, and thankfully it changes us forever.

The Bible says in Romans 10: 9  that if we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised us from the dead we will be saved.

Love changes lives.  I am so glad God loved me so much to bring me back into fellowship with Him.  Jesus Christ offers the same love to you as well!

Remembering and Embracing the Cross

We are approaching the week where we intentionally  remember the cross.  The cross is a symbol that no one would ever have worn because it represented death and humiliation.  Actually, it represented the most cruel death there could have been.  So, it does seem funny that we wear crosses on our necks and adorn our church buildings with them.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

For followers of Jesus Christ the cross represents the power of God to forgive our sins.   The cross is a message of forgiveness and hope.

Recently Jeremy Camp came out with a new album.  There are some excellent songs on there.  This one I have posted below is particularly poignant when it comes to our sin in the shadow of the cross.  I trust you will be encouraged in this hope as you listen to the song.

Yes, the resurrection does matter!

"He is not here; he is risen, just as he said."

Oh, what a difference a few days make.  When the sun went down on Friday, in the shadow of an empty cross and a tomb where the lifeless body of Jesus lay, all hope seemed lost.  But, today is Sunday and the body of Jesus is gone.  He arose victorious!

This is the foundation for the Christian faith and the reason so many will be in church this morning.  Yet, many modern scholars have erroneously concluded that whether or not Jesus actually rose physically from the dead is not essential to Christianity.  They would say the empty tomb is irrelevant and that it would have be difficult to prove it without video evidence. Even with a video of the event, they would likely find something wrong with it.  Even so, historically speaking, there are reasons to believe this actually happened and that it is the basis for Christianity, and not later addition to it.

It needs to be understood that from the early church on there was significant interest in historical accuracy.  The testimony of eyewitnesses was held with high regard making the life, death and resurrection of Jesus historically verifiable.  The resurrection itself became the central message preached by early missionaries, Paul and Peter.  The authors of the Gospels intended to be historically accurate and the eyewitness label given to them early on has remained, never having been disputed.  Even the Christian movement itself was spoken about in other historical sources.  Josephus, a Jewish historian, spoke about the movement as being alive and well even toward the end of the first century.   Therefore, history clearly speaks to Jesus as one who was alive, who died and was resurrected.

Modern scholars have written off much of the Gospel account of Jesus as a metaphor.   This same logic then gets applied to the resurrection as a metaphor for some internal process and not Jesus literally rising in a physical body.  This is a big flawed again, as some have used 1 Corinthians 15 as their reason for it not being true, when it can be concluded from the text that there was a resurrection, even if Paul doesn’t specifically mention an empty tomb.  The scripture says that he “appeared to Peter and then to the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:5).  This is a rather clear portrayal of what happened and yet so many people see things that just aren’t there.  Here again, if the historical account was accurately handled, there is nothing that would suggest this is all metaphor.  This was evidenced in the message of Paul and Peter who both affirmed the death and resurrection of Jesus and the need for a response.  Clearly the significance of the resurrection held far more power in the way lives were lived than a metaphor would have.

Even if these things are true, this still doesn’t answer the question as to their significance.  Some scholars won’t even go as far as to say with certainty that Jesus literally resurrected or that he didn’t.  They just say that the answer to that question is irrelevant.  The claim is that if people were to come across the corpse of Jesus it would not change anything.  This is absolutely incorrect.  If Jesus did not literally rise from the dead, the whole foundation for the Christian faith crumbles.  The fact that the Bible has historical accuracy, has stood the test of time and has seen many people willingly die for its message, gives credence to the message.

The resurrection matters as a literal event, not as just a metaphorical event.  It matters because in that act of sacrifice Jesus Christ covered the sin of mankind.  This is the “new covenant” that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 11.  The Old Testament system for covering sin was no longer needed because there was now a perfect sacrifice.

The physical resurrection shows that there was nothing that could conquer the Lord.  As a literal Lord, a choice is made to follow Him, much like when Jesus called the disciples to follow Him.  If Jesus didn’t physically rise, then why follow Him over any other dead guy?

The physical resurrection gives veracity to the ministry of Jesus Christ.  The ministry Jesus had with healing the sick and casting out demons was vastly different than anything the world had seen up to that point in history.  There would be no reason why anyone in the early church would have invented that as a method, when it was far different than what they were used to.  The same could be said about the resurrection because so much was at stake for following a resurrected Jesus.  It would have been foolishness to have the king die on a cross for his people and then to have the people who supposedly invented it die for the lie.

The physical resurrection shows the power of God to forgive sins and raise people up to be with Him forever.  If the resurrection was just a metaphor for some inner renewal, it would not indicate anything for the future.

The literal resurrection of Jesus Christ does matter today.  There was no ability to record it, but eyewitnesses have all said the same thing about the events.  The fact that Jesus appeared to His disciples only proved to increase their faith and resolve to pass the message on, even in the face of certain death.

Without the cross and subsequent resurrection, there is no Easter and there is no eternal life.