Why the Resurrection MattersApril 4, 2014
Can you quickly open your Bible and point out a Gospel passage? If the exact address is a little fuzzy, let pastor and author Bob Lepine help you out, as he explores 1 Corinthians 15, and the core of the Gospel.
Can you quickly open your Bible and point out a Gospel passage? If the exact address is a little fuzzy, let pastor and author Bob Lepine help you out, as he explores 1 Corinthians 15, and the core of the Gospel.
Why the Resurrection Matters
Bob: There is one thing that distinguishes Jesus from other leaders or historical figures. Here is Christian, hip-hop artist Shai Linne.
[Shai singing Buddha, Muhammad, Gandhi, and Selassie are dead; but Jesus is alive.]
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, April 4th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll spend time today considering why the Resurrection really matters for all of us. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. You know, we are a couple of weeks away from the celebration of the resurrection. If this was two weeks before Christmas, it would be obvious everywhere.
There’d be lights on houses. There would be songs in department stores. There would be decorations everywhere you go. Yet, here we are, two weeks before the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, and people are going, “Oh, yes; when is Easter again?”
Dennis: Yes, exactly. And you know, it’s not that everything that is taking place before Christmas is necessarily all that spiritual and focused on the real meaning of Christmas; but I think, if we’ve missed Christmas, we’ve definitely lost the message of Easter. It’s just too bad because it is the pinnacle of all Christian holidays.
It is the statement—the exclamation point, as symbolized by the cross—that God, not only invaded this planet through His Son, Jesus Christ—but He died on that cross, and then defeated death, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father, as a statement that it is finished and we can be forgiven.
Bob: Well—and there may not be people who have put up their Easter lights—
—because I don’t know anybody who does put up Easter lights; but I’ve been over to your house—and there are some decorations up at your house pointing people to Easter.
Dennis: Barbara has got a banner up that declares that Christ is coming—“Behold the Lamb”—that He is coming to take away the sins of the world. I can’t wait until Easter morning when we get a chance to take that banner and flip it over, where it says, “He Is Risen!” because it is a statement that the tomb is empty—Christ has defeated death—we have hope. As a result, we can have eternal life through Him.
Bob: And there is the wreath that is in your home that’s got an Easter message on it. I mean, Barbara has been busy trying to design resources that can go in people’s homes to just remind us that this is what life is all about.
Dennis: Barbara is all over the Easter holiday. She thinks that we, as believers, are not seizing this day for our families to truly celebrate:
—Christ’s road to the cross, and then His death, and His burial and resurrection. And we really do need to be celebrating these last days leading up to Easter.
Bob: I had a chance to speak at my local church on why Easter matters—why the resurrection really is important—and to point people toward a robust celebration of the Easter holiday. We thought we’d share a little of that with our listeners on today’s program.
Bob: I want to tell you a story as we get started here this morning. This is a story that happened a long, long, long time ago—back before there was iTunes®, and eBay®, and Amazon.com®, and Facebook®. When we were living in San Antonio and we bought our very first, personal computer—it was cool. Then, a friend of mine brought me a modem. He said, “You can connect with all kinds of people on the internet.”
I had a radio talk show in San Antonio. Somebody suggested to me that we ought to have, as a part of our radio talk show, a bulletin board on the internet—where people, who listened to the show, could go and post comments and have some kind of a dialogue or an exchange. It’s kind of—those of you who are wondering what a bulletin board on the internet is like—think a super wall on Facebook. So, I thought, “Well, that’s a good idea.”
So, we started off this bulletin board on the internet. Well, there was one particular theological strain that was going on. I don’t even remember what it was about—but somebody, in the middle of this discussion, asked this question—he said, “Where would you take somebody in the Bible if you wanted to share with them what the Bible says is the gospel?” I thought, “Well, that’s a good question.”
My mind immediately went to 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5, which is one of my favorite passages. It talks about how—if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature—old has passed away / all things are new. Then, it ends by saying, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us”—
—“that we might become the righteousness of God.” I thought, “That’s where I’d take them.” So, I posted that on the internet: “I’d go to 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5.”
And the guy went, [sound of a game show buzzer]“Wrong!” So, I just waited—laid back—to see what he was going to come up with. Finally, somebody said, “Well, I would take them to 1 Corinthians 15.” And here is why he felt like this was the place where you would take somebody if you wanted to tell them what the Bible says is the gospel. Beginning at verse 1, the Apostle Paul says:
“Now, I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preach to you, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preach to you, unless you believed in vain.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received,”—here’s the gospel—“that Christ died for our sins according with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; last of all,—
—“as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.”
And we’ll stop there. Now, I read that. I said: “Okay, that’s a good answer. Paul says, ‘This is the gospel’”; but you know what?—seems like it’s just a statement of fact. I mean, if somebody came to me and said, “Will you share the gospel with this person?” and I said: “Okay. I will read him 1 Corinthians 15:1-7.” He would go, ‘Well, okay; but so what?’”
What we have to realize, though—this is the foundational truth on which everything we understand about our salvation is built. If this is true, the rest of it is true. If this isn’t true, then the rest of it crumbles. In fact, Paul says essentially that same thing a few verses later. If you’re still in 1 Corinthians 15, look down at verse 14: “…if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain.” —verse 17: “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; and you are still in your sins.”—verse 19: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only”—
—“we are of all people most to be pitied.”
The resurrection of Jesus is not just one of many important doctrines in Scripture—this is the doctrine of Scripture. Take away the resurrection—there is no good news in the Bible at all. In fact, think about this: If you don’t have the resurrection of Jesus, what you have in the Bible is a horrible, tragic, desperate book. It is filled with nothing but judgment and condemnation, apart from the resurrection of Christ. You would not want to pick it up and read it. There would be no comfort for you. There would be no hope for you. Apart from the resurrection, all the Bible would declare is that God, the Righteous Judge, will someday judge the rebellious, sinful people—but we’re not without hope.
I want us to look at four reasons why it matters that Jesus really did rise from the dead. Now, that’s not an exhaustive list, but we’re just going to consider four reasons—
—why it really does matter whether this is true or not. But before we dive into that, let me just recap a few reasons why I think it’s reasonable for us to think that Jesus did rise from the dead.
Here’s the first reason: As much as Jewish and Roman leaders would have liked to have been able to, nobody was able to go and produce the body once the claims of resurrection were starting to be made. The tomb was empty. There was no body, which has caused some people to think: “Maybe, Jesus swooned; and on His own power, got up, rolled away the stone, and walked out. And that’s what happened. He never really died.”
You study the historical and biblical accounts—Romans were experts at crucifixion. The thought—that they would take somebody down without that person being dead—well, we have no evidence that it ever happened any other time in history, under the Roman crucifixion system. So, I don’t think that the swoon theory works.
Other people say, “Well, the disciples came and stole the body.”
The one problem with that is that the tomb was under Roman guard and was sealed with a Roman seal. Here’s another reason why I think it’s reasonable to believe that Jesus was resurrected: We have 16 eyewitnesses, who are named in the New Testament, and another 500 who are unnamed. As we just read in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says: “Look! A lot of these guys are still alive. You want to talk to an eyewitness—I’ve talked to them.”
And there is no other way—I don’t think—to explain the transformation that happened in the lives of the disciples—particularly, Peter. On the night that Jesus was arrested, somebody came and said, “Do you know Him?” And what did Peter say? “I’ve never met Him”—scared to death! About two months later, Peter is preaching the Resurrected Christ. They take him before the Jewish authorities. They say, “Stop preaching this”; and he said: “I can’t stop preaching this. I’ve got to do what God has called me to do.”
Now, that’s a pretty remarkable transformation. In fact, each one of those disciples gave his life, affirming the resurrection. At some point along the way, if the resurrection wasn’t true, one of those guys would have cracked. The resurrection is real.
So, quickly, in the time we have left, I want to review with you four reasons why I think that matters to us today. First reason why: “What we believe about the resurrection separates Christianity from every other religion in the world and every other philosophical system in the world.”
Jim Boice, who was the long-time pastor at the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, says this—he says: “Christianity is an historical religion. It is a religion that is not based primarily on an idea or a philosophy. Most of the religions of the world can exist apart from their founder. You can have Buddhism without Buddha—
—“and so it is with many other religions. But the thing that separates us from them, Jesus is alive.” So, the first reason why the resurrection matters is because we really, really, really, really believe that Jesus is alive—really alive!
Here’s the second reason why the resurrection matters: “The resurrection means that Christianity is more than just something we believe—it is something that we experience.” You don’t need turn here—but in Ephesians 1, Paul says this—he is talking about the immeasurable greatness of God’s power—he says, “…His power is great toward us who believe according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
Here is what he is saying: “The power of God that is at work in you is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. So, the reason the resurrection is true is not just because it’s a truth claim—that we affirm and believe—that Jesus is alive; but because He is alive, He makes us alive.
He gives us power to live a godly life.”
In Romans 1, Paul says, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel…” But what did we say the gospel was?—the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. “I’m not ashamed of the gospel”—why?—“because it is the power of God unto salvation.” It’s not just a truth claim—the resurrection sets Christianity apart from all other religions and philosophies—and it also demonstrates and releases the power of God for salvation, for your justification, for your sanctification, and for your glorification.
Third reason why the resurrection matters is because: “It establishes Jesus as the One who is worthy to sit on the throne of heaven and judge all of mankind.” In John 5, Jesus says, “God has given to me”—to Jesus—“the authority to execute judgment.” He says, “He gives it to the Son of Man.”
And we see the picture of this authority being given to Jesus in this great throne room scene in the Bible—in Revelation, Chapter 5. I want you to turn there because I want you to see God delivering the authority to judge to the Son because of His triumphant resurrection from the dead.
Look at verse 6 of Revelation, Chapter 5:
“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain,”—now, I just have to stop there to say—that’s the resurrection: the Lamb standing, who was slain—“with seven horns, with seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He went and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who was seated on the throne. And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, golden bowls full of incense,—
—“which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the scroll, and open its seals, for You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they shall reign on the earth.”
Now, let me just stop you right there. What makes Him worthy?—His sacrifice and the fact that He is raised to establish His kingdom. Then, verse 11 says:
I looked, and I heard around the throne the living creatures and the elders and the voice of many angels, numbering myriads and myriads, and thousands and thousands, all saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To Him who sits on the throne,—
—“and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever.” And the four living creatures said, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped Him.
Now, why is this scene of the Lamb—being seated on the throne and given the scroll of authority—why is that so significant?—because, in that scene, He is being ordained to be the One who is worthy to—not only govern—but to execute judgment. One day, each one of us is going to stand before Jesus to give account for what we’ve done—right and wrong—for what we’ve left undone that we should have done. The risen Lamb—God has given Him the right to pronounce judgment on us on the basis of our deeds.
If I left you here, we’d be in sad shape; but the fourth reason why the resurrection is important is because, without it, we have no hope. With it, we have not just a hope—we have a living hope.
First Peter 1, beginning at verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ according to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last days.”
We don’t just have a hope. If you are in Christ, you have a living hope. On that day—on the day that you will face the One who is worthy to be your judge—as a result of the resurrection and because of God’s great mercy, those who are in Christ, will not only face a Judge, but we will have an Advocate. We will have the One who is not only worthy to pronounce judgment, but the One who is able to pronounce forgiveness.
Here is how it works: All of us born, physically, alive; right?
All of us were also born, spiritually, dead. When we talk about being spiritually dead, what we mean is that, spiritually, you are completely unresponsive to God. You did not want to—in fact, you could not respond to God. It’s not in our nature to be able to do that. So, you’re born physically alive, but spiritually dead. Being born again means that God, by His mercy, changes your heart so that you are no longer unresponsive to Him—but now, you respond to Him—you are alive to Him.
Now, you will pass from this life to the next—all of us will. The first thing that will happen when we pass is—we’ll stand before the Lamb, on the throne, to pronounce judgment. The question at that point is: “Did you become responsive to God in this life, or did you persist in your stubborn rebellion?” At that point, that judgment is made. Those, who are responsive to God in this life—they enter into eternal rest with God.
Those, who continue to persist in their stubborn rebellion against God—the Lamb pronounces judgment on them of eternal punishment for their wicked rebellion—which, by the way, they deserve—which, by the way, we deserve—which brings us back to that living hope.
The only reason we have a living hope is because Jesus is alive. And Romans 10 says this: “If you want to stand before the Lamb one day and be saved, then, you must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.” See, the resurrection is not only key to our faith—it’s key to your salvation. Believing in the resurrection and being transformed by the power of the resurrection is key to where you live in eternity.
Have you experienced the resurrecting power of Christ in your life? Have you been brought from death to life?
Have you been brought from being unresponsive to God—persistent in your sin, stubborn in your rebellion—to a point where you now respond to God and where the inclination of your heart, in a growing way, is to want to do the will of the One who died for you?
If you haven’t had that resurrection, this Easter morning can be your resurrection. It can be the morning for you in which you have a living hope that life does not end at the grave. The One who conquered death stands ready—not just to judge—but to forgive, to transform your life, and to give you the living hope—and to one day—on the Day of Judgment—instead of saying, “You are condemned,” to say, “Welcome home.”
If you, this morning, have sensed that God is stirring in your heart, today can be your resurrection day. Call out to Him. Confess your sin. Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead—that He is Lord.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to a message on why the resurrection really does matter. And I just want to point our listeners to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, because you’ll find there a link that talks about two ways to live and really explains what it means to be a follower of Christ and why it is the way to live.
Dennis: And why you need to make a commitment to surrender your life to Jesus Christ and let Him be your Savior and—yes—your Lord. It’s at the foot of the cross and the empty tomb where we find life. This is not a fairy tale. The God-man, Christ, lived a perfect life and then gave His life as a ransom to get us into a right relationship with Christ.
And I think the question for every listener, right now, is: “Have you done that? Has He invaded your life?”—and as Bob said in his message—“Has He brought new life out of death?”
That offering is for you—right now.
Bob: Well, and our hope is that, during this season, our listeners will be talking with friends, and family members, and neighbors, and coworkers about why this season really does matter. This is a great opportunity for you to have conversations with folks about matters that may feel uncomfortable at other times of the year—giving the next door neighbors a set of Resurrection Eggs® as an Easter gift, for example—that’s a great way to share your faith with your neighbors.
Or take the banner that Barbara has created and hang it on your front door—having it say, “Behold the Lamb of God,” on one side and then flipping it over to say, “He Is Risen!” when Easter comes. Just another way that you can decorate your home—you can engage your children around what the Bible teaches about Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. In the upper left-hand corner of our website—
—you’ll see a box that says, “Go Deeper.” When you click on that box, it’ll take you to a page where you can see a number of resources that we have available designed to help you make this celebration of Easter, this year, a significant celebration in your home. Again, our website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or if you’d prefer to call, call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
You know, at FamilyLife, we are convinced that the foundation for every healthy marriage and family is the foundation of a right relationship with God. For us to be good husbands and good wives / good moms and good dads, we first need to have a reconciled relationship with the God, who created us and created our family. That’s why we take time to emphasize things like Easter—
—and how you can make Easter a priority in your home—because it’s that spiritual foundation that matters most.
And I know a lot of our listeners share that conviction. In fact, we hear from many of you about that. We want to say, “Thank you for your prayerful support of this ministry and for believing in what we are doing.” I know some of our listeners are Legacy Partners, who make monthly contributions to support this ministry; and to those of you who make an occasional contribution, we appreciate you, as well.
In fact, if you can make a contribution right now, we’d like to send you, as a thank-you gift, a set of prayer cards. There is one for a husband to pray for his wife, one for a wife to pray for her husband, and a card for parents to use to pray more effectively for their children. These cards are our gift to you when you support FamilyLife Today with a donation. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button in the upper right-hand corner that says, “I Care,” make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone, and ask for the set of prayer cards when you do that.
That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
And we hope you have a great weekend this weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to be talking about a very special event that FamilyLife is going to be hosting in three cities this fall. We’ll give you all the details on Monday and talk about why marriage really does matter now more than ever. I hope you can join us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
Song: Jesus Is Alive (House of Tea Remix)
Artist: Shai Linne
Album: The Atonement (p) 2013 Lamp Mode Recordings
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