Category Archives: Resurrection

Christ, Our Blessed Hope

Title: Christ, our Blessed Hope

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4.1-5.1

Introduction: This morning we reach the conclusion of this Summer’s Sermon Series: HiStory. Last week we ended the 9th sermon in this series with an empty tomb. The tomb is empty because Jesus is risen. And what’s more… we have this hope that we will rise again in like manner, should we face death before he returns.

Our text for this morning’s sermon is found in 1 Thessalonians 4. We’ll be there this morning, so go ahead and turn there: 1 Thessalonians 4.1. A 2nd place we’ll be is in Titus 2. So, if you’d like to put a bookmark there…

This sermon is the last sermon in a series entitled: HiStory. The premise behind the series is that the whole of the Bible is one story. From beginning to end, the story is all about Jesus. God’s intention from before the foundation of the world was to save his people and to send his son, Jesus, to be the savior of his people.

We opened this series with a look at the perfection of creation and how it was ruined in Adam and Eve’s rebellion. As they were banished from the garden, God gave them a promise of someone who would come and restore things. Gen. 3.15 was the 1st indication that Jesus would someday come. In the future, somehow, someway, the snake crusher would come and restore what was damaged.

We saw how life in the fall was a continual downward spiral, until God destroyed it all in the flood, but saved 8 people and a bunch of animals through the Ark. Creation was destroyed  and God started all over.

This 1st section of the series was my favorite. I loved how our Community Group spent extra time in this section observing a film entitled: Genesis: is it history? Del Tackett was our guide and narrator. I highly recommend this documentary if you’re looking for help in strengthening your biblical worldview.

In Genesis 12, God picked a man from whom he would build a nation and from whom the Promised One would come. This nation would be his people (Israel) and he would be their God. The problem was that they, too, rebelled, like Adam and Eve. Instead of serving and following God, they chose to worship and serve idols.

God sent them Prophets, Priests and Kings, but somehow, someway, they still rejected the God who loved them. Their priests didn’t intercede like they should have. Many of these priests were worried more about themselves than teaching the people and interceding for the people. Their Kings never lived up to the role. One came pretty close – his name was David. He set an example of what the true King would one day look like. But he wasn’t the promised King. No, these Kings led the people astray. God sent them prophets to tell the people His words. But the people rejected the prophets. They beat them, shamefully mistreated them and in some cases, killed them.

In so many ways, many of these prophets pointed to the Promised One, but none of them were him. After many years of being caught up in a cycle of following God, not following God – God grew silent. There were no prophets to tell them God’s Word. No kings either. The people entered a time of darkness and silence for 400 years.

Then one day, after those 400 years of silence from God, the Promised One finally came. God’s voice broke the silence. God’s son lit up the darkness. He came and lived a perfect and sinless life. Then, he died on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for the sins of the world – to restore that which had been damaged. And, after three days of laying lifeless in a tomb, he rose again.

Many of his followers thought that the Kingdom would be restored when he rose from the dead, but instead, he delayed the coming Kingdom. Instead, he commissioned his followers to share this good news of redemption with the world until he does return for his people.

Titus 2.11-13: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

There is so much to unpack in these three verses, and that isn’t even our task today! It is an outline for our lives in this era: God’s grace Saved us, God’s grace is Sanctifying us, preparing us for glory. For now, what I really want to focus on is what Paul calls our Our Blessed Hope, which is Christ’s Glorious Appearing.

  • The hope you and I have as believers, as we live out our lives in this present age, isn’t the rapture to escape the tribulation.
  • The hope you and I share as believers as we live in this present age isn’t perfect health and untold riches of materialism.
  • The hope you and I share as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as we live godly lives in this present age is Christ and his glorious appearing!

Let’s break down Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica:

  1. 1st, he tells the Thessalonians how to live while we wait for his appearing (4.1-12).
  2. 2nd, he tells them what to expect when Christ returns, especially for those who already died (4.13-18).
  3. 3rd, he tells them of the Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11). He’ll finish his comments on this in his next letter, 2nd Thessalonians when he teaches them about the lawless one, the antichrist.

Transition: let’s look at this 1st section, which outlines for us how then we shall live…

How then shall we live?

I. We Walk with our Lord (4.1-12)

exp.: rd v 1-3a; Sanctification is often seen in two phases. There is the immediate phase and the process phase. In a very real sense, we are sanctified at our conversion. And, in a very real sense, we struggle with sin throughout our lives – not experiencing total sanctification in this body until this life is through. Our statement of faith teaches this better than any other document. Let me quote from the BF&M 2000:

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

  1. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior
  2. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
  3. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
  4. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Glorification is what we’ll experience at his glorious appearing. For now, though, how then shall we live?

I think it helps to understand that there is in one very real sense the sanctifying process that God is at work in us and on the other hand, there is a very real sense that there is our responsibility to be at work in the sanctifying process. Many Christians call this ‘the walk’. In Philippians Paul told the Christians at Philippi that they were to be “working out” their salvation with fear and trembling as God was “working within” them to will and to act according to His good purpose. Look what Paul says to Thessalonians here:

  • Be holy: rd v 3-7; avoid immorality, impurity;
  • Brotherly Love: rd v9-10; and then he gives them some instruction on neighborly affairs: rd v 11-12
  • Walk properly before outsiders: live quietly, mind your own affairs, work with your hands, and be dependent on no one.
  • Being Holy is how you live within yourself – it manifests itself externally, but it is an internal quality. Brother Love is the display of your holiness within the church. But there is contact with the real world, too. That is your … as he calls it …‘walk’ as seen by outsiders.

app.: We walk with the Lord and our work is a witness to those who are lost. Not that our walk saves us, but that rather our walk is a demonstration of what we believe to a lost and dying world.

t.s.: How then shall we live? 1st, we walk with the Lord. 2ndly,

II. We Wait for His Glorious Appearing (4.13-18)

exp.: waiting means that life goes on – day after day, month after month, year after year as we walk with the Lord; And, a big part of life is death; this was a concern for the Corinthian church we looked at last week – and, it is a concern for these folks in Thessalonica, too. They didn’t have a lot of doctrine to go with their newfound faith. Remember, the Jews had a foundation for their faith. The Gentiles, not so much! So, they had a lot of questions. For them, they wondered what would happen when their loved ones died. Would those who passed on miss out on Christ’s return?

Let’s read what he tells them; rd v 13-14; Paul told the Corinthians in his final letter to them that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord; Paul tells the Thessalonians here something very similar: that as their loved one’s body lay in the grave, their spirit was with the Lord; Then, when Christ returns, they will accompany Him.

ill.: As I quoted from Joni Eareckson Tada last week: One day actual spirits will return to their actual graves and reunite with stone-cold dead forms and – in the twinkling of an eye – we shall be changed. Paul says, that those of us who are still alive will certainly not precede those believers who’ve gone before us.

app.: Rd v 15-16; And so, while we continue in this body, we wait. As our loved ones die and are buried, we wait. We wait for his glorious appearing where we will … rd v 17-18: 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

t.s.: We have this hope – not a hope like it is going to rain, but a certain knowledge and faith that communicates: at his glorious appearing we shall be with him.

So, How then shall we live? we walk with the Lord, we wait for his return, and..

III. We Watch for The Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11)

exp.: why do we watch? Well, read with me v1-2; we watch because it is unexpected and we don’t want to be caught off guard. Rd v 3-4; look at these three phrases that describe the suddenness of Christ return:

  • Like a thief in v2
  • Sudden destruction in v3
  • To surprise you in v4

Exhortations: (in v6-11)

  • Stay sober and awake! Because, it will come suddenly and without expectation!

Transition: there are many terms and teachings on this doctrine called eschatology. And, in preaching a message like the sermon this morning, I’m ever aware of the differences of opinion when it comes to End Times. That’s right, I said opinion. There are those who would disagree with me: they are so dogmatic, that they think they’re the only one’s who are right!

Let me take some time to lay out four truths that we should all agree on and avoid the hot topic areas of disagreement. This Wednesday night, our Community Group will be discussing these different views and I’ll lay out for you there what I see in these passages and in Revelation. In that meeting we will look at the areas of disagreement. For this morning, I arrange these doctrinal truths on which we should all agree from the book on systematic theology by Wayne Grudem. Bruce Demarest, a mentor of mine at Denver Seminary, also has a wonderful systematic theology in 3 volumes. It doesn’t read as easy as Grudem’s, but it is a wonderful indepth look at the end times. I’ve chosen to use Grudem’s outline because it was handy.

  1. There will be a sudden, personal, visible, and bodily return of Christ. like a thief in the night… Note all four aspects of his return:
    1. Sudden and unexpected
    2. Personal: he is coming with his army of angels
    3. Visible: this isn’t some spiritual type of return, we’ll see it.
    4. Bodily: Christ Body isn’t in the grave and he didn’t have just a spiritual resurrection after his death. He was raised physically, and he’ll return physically.
  2. We have no idea when Christ will return. The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mt 24.44); for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Mt. 25.13); Jesus said that no one knows the day, not the angels, nor even the Son – only the Father knows the day he has chosen. (Mk 13.32-33). You and I can know the season – we can see the time for his return, and I believe that it will be soon and very soon. But as for that day… no on knows.
  3. We should eagerly long for Christ’s return. Maranatha, Even so, Come Lord Jesus. And as Titus records: 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Christians should be eagerly and expectantly longing for Christ’s return. For someone to hope for his delay because he loves this world and his life in this world demonstrates a tremendous misunderstanding of what this life is to be. If this is all you hope for, you’re missing something very important. You’re not understanding sin and its effects.
  4. No matter how you get there eschatalogically, Evangelicals pretty much all agree on the final results: we will all stand before the Son of God – unbelievers to judgment and believers to their reward. Believers will live forever with Christ in a new heaven and a new earth. In this place – this new heaven and earth – believers will worship God in a never-ending kingdom where there is no more sin, no more sorrow and no more suffering.

Conclusion:

Dr. Harry Pritchett, Jr. tells the story of a friend he had, who taught 8 year olds in Sunday School. In a Sunday school class of 8-year olds Philip stuck out because of his Down’s syndrom. Eight-year-olds can be cruel. The third-graders did not welcome Phillip to their group. Not just because he was older. He was “different.” And because he suffered from Down’s Syndrome, he had many difference that were quite obvious: facial characteristics, slow responses, symptoms of what we used to call ‘mental retardation’.

One Sunday after Easter, the Sunday school teacher gathered some of those plastic eggs that pull apart in the middle — the kind in which some ladies’ pantyhose used to be packaged. The Sunday school teacher gave one of these plastic eggs to each child. On that beautiful spring day each child was to go outdoors and discover for himself some symbol of “new life” and place that symbolic seed or leaf or whatever inside his egg. They would then open their eggs one by one, and each youngster would explain how his find was a symbol of “new life.” So … The youngsters gathered ’round and put their eggs on a table, and one by one, the teacher began to open them. 

One child had found a flower. All the children “oohed” and “aahed” at the lovely symbol of new life. In another was a butterfly. “Beautiful,” the girls said. Another egg opened to reveal a rock. Some of the children laughed. “That’s crazy!” one said. “How’s a rock supposed to be like a new life?'” Immediately a little boy spoke up and said, “That’s mine. I knew everybody would get flowers and leaves and butterflies and all that stuff, so I got a rock to be different.” Everyone laughed. The teacher opened the last one, and there was nothing in it. “That’s not fair,” someone said. “That’s stupid,” said another. The teacher felt a tug on his shirt. It was Phillip. Looking up he said, “It’s mine. I did it. It’s empty. I have new life because the tomb is empty.” The class fell silent. From that day on Phillip became part of the group. They welcomed him. Whatever had made him different was never mentioned again.

Phillip’s family had known he would not live a long life; just too many things wrong with the tiny body. That summer, overcome with infection, Phillip died. On the day of his funeral nine 8-year-old boys and girls, confronted the reality of death, marched up to the altar–not with flowers. Nine children with their Sunday school teacher placed on the casket of their friend their gift of love – an empty egg …

You see, believers get it. They know the meaning of the empty egg story. Like Philip, they say I have life because the tomb is empty; they know the hope of life after death because Christ is risen. And, they know the hope of His Glorious Appearing –

  • And so, they walk with God every single day of their lives;
  • They wait patiently, knowing that one day he will return and
  • They keep a watchful eye out, because it will happen when this world least expects it.

Let’s pray…

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Filed under 1 Thessalonians, Eschatology, Messiah, Resurrection, Scripture, Sermon

The Church’s Foundational Doctrine

Title: The Church’s Foundational Doctrine

Text: 1 Corinthians 15.1-11

Introduction: We’re in 1 Corinthians 15 this morning. Our topic: the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15.1

“Our Savior’s resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.” – John Locke

John MacArthur says: The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter.

If Christ is not risen, we are to be pitied more than all other religious peoples. 1 Cor 15.17-19: 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Christ repeated this idea dying and rising again to his disciples throughout his ministry with them: 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. Mk 8.31-32

David Jackman, the British preacher recorded in his commentary on 1 Cor. 15: The climax of the story of the cross is the resurrection. Indeed, without that demonstration of his triumph, we could have no assurance of Christ’s victory.

How can these men make such an assumption? Can it be true? Does the crux of Christianity rise and fall on this one doctrine? 1 Corinthians 15 declares it to be so. Turn there with me.

We’re in the midst of a sermon series on HiStory. The premise has been that there is one storyline that rises above the many stories of the Bible. That in actuality, although the Bible contains hundreds, thousands of stories, there is to it a basic story of Salvation: That God was always at work saving his people.

Paul presents three separate testimonies or pieces of evidence to the Corinthian church demonstrating the reality of Christ’s resurrection. The purpose is clear: without the resurrection, salvation as we know it could not happen. Consider Paul’s teaching to the Romans: that if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead… you will be saved.

I think it is important to point out that the Corinthians didn’t have a problem with the resurrection, per se, but rather with their own resurrection. With that being said, let’s look at the evidence Paul presents to them. As in a trial, I’d like to call each piece of evidence Exhibits. First we have Exhibit #1

I. The Church (1-2)

exp.: rd v 1-2; In our opening sentence, we read: Now I would remind you, brothers – the word remind, is really an interpretation, not a translation. The thought is right, but it is inaccurate as a translation. Let me remind you that I say this with caution. 1st, I’m no Greek scholar. I practice Greek like I ride my bike. I’ve got one and I ride a few times every week. But, that doesn’t make me a pro. I’ve never ridden in a race. 2nd, there are people who do this translating work who are a lot smarter than me. With that said, let’s look closer at this phrase Now I would remind you, brothers…

This word translated ‘remind’ means to make known. Luke 2.15: 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” The angels didn’t remind them: they announced!

In modern day English we might say something more like: I’ll have you know… which means you probably already know, you’re just not acting like you know. Maybe that is why the translators used remind, because their knowledge of the matter is already sure. So, he’s just reminding them… but in a stern way

In the original language though, the thought is clear: Paul is not happy with them. He’s chiding them. Some people, it would appear, have begun to live like they never even heard of Christ. And Paul is saying, That isn’t the Gospel I preached to you!

Ill.: Can you hear your momma or your daddy in your head? That isn’t the way I taught you to … Paul is saying something like: I’ll have you know, brothers that the Gospel I preached to you is the one you received, in which you stand and are being saved.

Something interesting to note: The Gospel (εὐαγγελίζω), is the same Greek word as Preached (εὐαγγέλιον), The Gospel is a noun and ‘preached’ is a verb. That’s the difference.

  • I Preached (εὐαγγέλιον),
  • You Received, (arorist, not passive)
  • In which you stand, You are living out; Stand; in the pft, the idea that they are in a present state of being because of this past action in their lives. It is the Gospel being lived out still.
  • The result: by which you are being saved – a passive verb. God is saving them, they can’t save themselves.

Paul is in effect saying: Whatever word you’re getting of no future resurrection or that it already happened is rubbish! That’s not what I taught you. In both of his letters to Timothy, Paul refers to a man named Hymenaeus. Hymenaeus was a thorn in Paul’s side. He cause Paul a great deal of harm. It appears that some of his teaching was that the resurrection had already happened. Paul calls this false teaching a sickness like Gangrene. It makes me wonder if this false teaching had infiltrated other congregations, as well. Like here in Corinth. We don’t know that, but it is apparent that there were men who were just making stuff up!

A great reminder for us today: we must be careful who we chose to listen to or read.

Paul continues in v 2; Rd v 2 with me: and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Some people think this is a proof text for apostasy. They say: This is one of the verses that proves you can loose your salvation.

Ill.: I received a phone call from a man in Oregon who said he is moving to Tyler and looking for a church. He said the purpose of his call was that he wanted to see what I believe. In the course of my doctrinal interview (which by the way, happens more than you think) we came across this doctrine. Can you lose your salvation? No, I said. I do not believe in apostasy. At this stage of the conversation, I began to realize that he didn’t want to know what I believe. Rather, he was looking for someone to debate with him. This was one of his many verses to ‘prove’ to me that you can indeed lose your salvation.

Those of you, who know me, you know my understanding that one does not and cannot lose their salvation.

This is one of those verses that helps me with this doctrine. As you see it in English, you might infer that one can lose their salvation – that is to say if you hold fast like it is this condition God has set up with believers. I’m willing to save your soul, but one false move, Buddy and you’re out of here! That isn’t the way this is set up. Paul isn’t saying if you do this, then that and if you don’t….

There are clearly people who make a profession of faith. They come to church and maybe even get involved. They can even share Christ with others, but one day, they walk away from the faith. This man who called me would say they lost their salvation. I, on the other hand, would say they were probably never saved. I say ‘probably’ because I don’t know. They may very well come back to Christ in the future. That is my prayer. I know people like that. You probably do to! That is my hope that they’ll return. They may grow up, have some kids and begin to realize their frivolity. If that happens, they cannot crucify the Son of God all over again. But they can repent and be restored.

It appears to me that much of this arguing is mostly semantics in nature. Someone says they lost their salvation, I say they never really were saved to begin with. The end result is the same. They say that someone comes to Christ after having lost their salvation. I say they’re rededicating their life. The result is the same.

app.: Here is all we really know from what Paul says: If you’re not living out the Gospel, you’re probably not saved. Again I say probably, because I don’t know. That call is way above my paygrade. I know that sounds harsh, but that is all we have. A salvation experience is evidenced by the life of a changed person. Paul says – if you’ve gone through this whole experience and walked away from it all, then your salvation was all on you – not God. You’re resting your hopes on your ability, your obedience, your following the rules, your church attendance, your…whatever. And if salvation rests on you – then you’re not saved. If you think you can get into heaven on your dad, your husband, your service, your money – think again. That is all in vain. And, you’ll walk away from it someday. Why? Because you’re incapable of fulfilling such a impossible task.

t.s.: in this phone conversation with this man from Oregon, I told him he might like to call another pastor, who shall remain nameless in this recording. This man thought I was saying to him, you’d be happier somewhere else. Well, that is true, but it wasn’t what I was saying. I said, you like to debate – so does this pastor. He got upset with me and said, you want me to go to a church that condemns your’s, because you don’t believe God’s Word.

Now that upset me. But I was nice and closed the conversation with kindness. But he’s got it wrong. No church, nor any person will be my judge, but Christ alone. And that goes for you, too. Sure, we do our best to maintain purity in this local body. That is our responsibility. But it is Christ who sits as judge over salvation.

And I think that is really what Paul is saying here: Salvation that comes by the hands of humans is no salvation at all. It is Christ alone who saves and the church is evidence, a testimony to the risen Christ.

His 2nd exhibit…

II. The Scriptures (3-4)

exp.: rd v 3-4; in accordance with the Scriptures. The scriptures testified to what would happen. The NT Scriptures testify to what did happen. Notice Paul says I delivered to you. This isn’t something he made up or designed. This isn’t something he created. He simply delivered to them what the Bible said would happen.

That’s the mark of a good preacher. Be very leery of someone who gets up and is crafty about God’s Word. A preacher’s job is delivering the groceries. That’s it, he’s just a delivery boy. It is the same with teachers.

Let’s look at these three components.

  • Jesus died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; Jesus told the two men on the road to Emmaus about how the Scriptures pointed to the Messiah and his death. 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Jesus pointed to Jonah as a sign for this unbelieving generation. The disciples quoted from Psalm 16 and Psalm 22 and Isaiah 52-53 and the list Goes on.
  • He was Buried
  • He was Raised on the 3rd Day in accordance with the Scriptures. His body did not see decay, as David had foretold.

app.: Paul uses this phrase twice according to Scriptures to point to the fact that the Word of God is a piece of evidence to be witnessed and acknowledged when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus.

t.s.:  His 3rd exhibit.

III. Eyewitnesses (5-10)

exp.: Eye-witnesses; rd v 5 and that he appeared… There is a good list here.

  1. Cephas, if find it interesting that the ladies are not mentioned first; this is Simon Peter.
  2. The Twelve, a title for the closest disciples. There aren’t really 12 anymore because Judas has died before the resurrection; however, it is a title for that group, even if there aren’t that many at that moment. And, at first, Thomas was there either. But eventually, he was.
  3. 500 brothers – most of who are still alive. We don’t know when this was or where this was. 500… brothers? It must have been at the ascension. But it doesn’t have to be. But Paul is saying, Hey, most of these people are still alive. You can ask them about it. Edwin M. Yamauchi, former professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: Do you realize that if each of these 500 men were to testify in a court of law and each were given just 6 minutes of examination, there would be an amazing 50 hours of testimony?
  4. James: the Lord’s brother; this one is pretty powerful for me. James used to be an unbeliever. You probably remember when we were in the Gospel of Mark of how he, his momma and siblings thought Jesus was crazy. He was embarrassed at the behavior of his brother, Jesus. Paul lets us in on something incredible here. Without this letter, we would have no idea that James was an eyewitness to the resurrection.

James saw Jesus resurrected from the dead and what a difference it made in his life. His life was so affected by what he witnessed that the direction of his life changed. James became the pastor of the church at Jerusalem and a leader in the early church. He served the Lord with his life.

  1. The Apostles: all of the Apostles.

ill.: Nothing beats a great list of eye-witnesses. David Jackman tells of Frank Morrison, who set out to write a paper disproving the resurrection. His paper was to be entitled: Jesus, the last Phase. He started with the crucifixion and ended with the testimonies of the witnesses. In the course of his trial, he mind was changed and he was convinced that Jesus really did rise from the dead. The end result was his conversion to Christ and his book, Who moved the Stone? Josh McDowell has a similar testimony of his efforts in college and the overwhelming evidence that demanded he cast a verdict of Risen!

app.: Paul says to the Corinthians: some of you aren’t living your life by the Gospel – at least not on the Gospel I preached to you. I presented to you truths from the Scriptures that point to this very phenomena: the Christ was to suffer and die, be buried and rise again three days later. Furthermore, there are hundreds of people who testify to this fact: Jesus is risen!

t.s.: Today is July 30th. Do you know what happened on July 30, 1967? Joni Eareckson dove into Chesapeake Bay and broke her neck. 50 years ago today. That human error has put her in a wheelchair for the last 50 years.

Conclusion:

Some years ago her mother-in-law invited her and her husband out to Forrest Lawn, a cemetery. Being a Sunday afternoon, she thought of a hundred different things she’d rather do, but being the dutiful daughter-in-law, she and her husband headed out to meet her mother-in-law.

The Realtor met them at the plot and began her sales pitch. The plot is located in the section called Murmuring Pines. She gave her spiel: with Joni’s head here and her feet there, she’d have a wonderful view of the mountains. Joni kind of chuckled to herself… like it really mattered where her bones lay.

The family walked around, but Joni rolled her wheelchair over her plot – the very place her body will be laid to rest when she dies – and she turned to face the mountains in the distance. A gust of wind blew through that area, rustling her hair and indeed, creating a murmuring sound in the pines. She writes that a profound peace settled over the scene.

Suddenly, in a sort of way that just overtook her, she realized that she was actually situated over the place her body would rise from – should she die before Christ returns. Listen to her in her own words: Jesus is quoted in John 5.28: for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out. Astounding! One day actual spirits will return to their actual graves and reunite with stone-cold dead forms and – in the twinkling of an eye – we shall be changed.

I think of Ezekiel 37: Can the dead bones live again? You bet!

Joni continues: We shall come forth and rise strong and brilliant with hands and arms, feet and legs, and like Jesus with his glorious body, we shall be perfectly fitted for both earth and heaven.

Sitting in my wheelchair under the pines, it was enough to spill tears. That grassy hillside ignited the reality of the resurrection, wrapping sight, sound, and touch around all the sermons and essays I’d ever read on the subject.

What Joni began to realize in that moment was something possible because Jesus has already been resurrected. And that is the hope that you and I have, too. Because he has conqured the grave, you and I have the hope – not hope like I hope it rains – but a certainty that says, that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Resurrection, Sermon