Easter

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.17.17

 ‘What Hope are you Buying’

 

1 Peter 1:3-9   

 

Easter offers a “living” hope (v3)

Every hope your soul can lift up is merely a wishing hope

We cannot guarantee that our hopes will be obtained, or kept

Biblical hope is different, it’s knowing rather than wishing

Easter’s hope is given by Jesus Christ who is v3 the ‘Lord’

Easter’s hope is guaranteed by Jesus Christ who was ‘raised’

The Apostle Peter calls this a ‘living hope’

It cannot wither, or die, because (v5) the ‘power’ of God keeps it

You cannot match that, the world cannot match it, and human religion cannot match it

What is this living hope?

Jesus who died on a cross to pay for our sin, was raised in victory over our sin and death

Those who trust in Christ, (v1) are born again:  God does something we don’t!

v4 our new life includes an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading

v3 This hope is not to those who deserve it, but according to God’s Mercy

Right now this mercy is ready for anyone in any condition  

     “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”  Romans 10:13

Are you willing to acknowledge you need to be saved? 

Is God giving you faith to believe that Jesus is the One who saves?

Will you submit to call on him:  Jesus, forgive me and have my life

 

The hope of Easter can withstand a messy world 

Disappointments, suffering, conflict and loss are inescapable (vs 6-7)

The Bible doesn’t try to claim that faith will remove all of them

Bible does claim that hope in Christ can stand up to all of them

God is in every difficulty, with the same intensity he had in saving us

God is purposeful in every trial, regardless of people’s intention, God causes it to be for our good

God tells us how it ends:  Christ victoriously returns to glorify his people

Life is hard, heartaches are real, but our joy remains

Nothing can diminish hope that is imperishable – undefiled – unfading

If our trust is in Christ, it’s impossible to be hopeless

“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us” Romans 5:5

The promises we have in Christ are both unchanging, and glorious

When we feel hopeless, it’s because we are not fully trusting Christ

Our hope can actually increase with our difficulties,

Trials freshly remind us that our hopes belong in Christ alone

 

Resurrection hope keeps us in anticipation (vs 8-9)

The best is always yet to come

Christ whom we love above all else, is ‘preparing a place for us’

Our aging body will be raised new, and our soul will be made complete

It is coming!  Life that’s whole and joy that is undisturbed

We have hope now, but its greatest fulfillment is still ahead

Our hope is in Christ, so it is fulfilled (v7) when he is revealed

Do you love Christ?  You will be with him, that’s anticipation!

 

Are your hopes merely wishes?  Does your joy survive the battering of life?

Christ is alive to give you hope that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading

 

GOOD FRIDAY PREPARATION

unewald2

To help lead our thoughts about the sacrifice Christ made to pay the price for our sin; I am sharing the following thoughts from the Puritan scholar, William Ames. He describes the death of Christ for sinners with poignancy and crispness of language.

The death of Christ is the last act of his humiliation in which he underwent extreme, horrible, and most acute pains for the sins of men. His death included the loss of conscious enjoyment of God; the tasting of the wrath of God; with sadness, fear, and dread in agony.

He experienced being forsaken, denied, and betrayed by his most intimate disciples; false accusations and injustice; mocking, whipping, and crucifixion; the forsaking of him by His Father; and the full consciousness of Gods judgment on man’s sins.

Christ’s humiliation was then completed by the expiration of his soul in greatest torment and pain of body, burial, and continuation under death for three days.

From “A Puritan Theology” by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones

WHAT WAS THE GREAT BURDEN OF THE CROSS?

“Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46

 

What was the great burden of the cross?

1.  We tend to focus on the physical suffering

The burden of the cross went far beyond physical pain. It was a horrible death, but thousands endured that pain

2.  Jesus suffering went beyond emotional and mental stress

Jesus knew the Old Testament prophecies that describing his death.  Imagine knowing for years you would be tortured to death!

We see weight of this burden in Gethsemane, when Jesus said “my soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death”

3.  The great cost of the cross was to be “forsaken” by the Father

  • Jesus had been silent during the injustice of His trial
  • He had not cried out when they horribly beat Him
  • When they nailed his hands and feet he said “Father forgive them”
  • As the agony grew he spoke words of mercy to a thief beside Him

But when our sin was placed upon him, then Jesus cried out in chilling anguish

 

How was Jesus “forsaken” by the Father?

We should first clarify what it does not mean

Jesus was not abandoned, because his sacrifice was accepted by the Father

The love of the Father not withdrawn. Jesus said  “My Father loves me because I lay down my life” (John 10:17)

1.  Jesus was “forsaken” by when the Father punished him without mercy (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Jesus became responsible for our sin as if he committed them 2 Cor 5:21  Gal 3:13

The Father did not withhold any wrath, but punished Jesus fully for our sin

God forgives people, not sin! Every sin will receive its due penalty, either on us or on Jesus

2.  Jesus was “forsaken” by the Father withdrawing his comfort

Holy God could not comfort his son, when he “became sin”

It is hard for us to grasp what it meant for Christ to be “forsaken”

  • We cannot comprehend the wrath that fell (praise God that in Christ, we never will!)
  • We cannot fathom the shame our collective guilt was to one so pure
  • We cannot appreciate what it meant for Jesus who had loved the Father with all his soul, to have him turn away

God the Son, was punished by God the Father, in order to save those who had rejected them both

 

Why is it important we know the true burden of cross?

1.  So we will know the greatest burden that could be ours

No suffering on earth can compare to being forsaken by God. Nothing could be worse than to face God bearing the guilt of our sin

 

2.  So we will recognize how committed God is to punishing all sin

If God did not spare his Son when the guilt of others was upon him, he will not spare those who will come before him bearing their own guilt

Why does God hate sin so deeply?

  • It corrupts what he created ‘good’
  • It separates us from him
  • It turns those he had loved from eternity into his enemy

3.  So we will know the greatness of the sacrifice made for us

Christ was willing to endure the presence of our sin on Himself

If there is no greater burden than than to be forsaken by God, then there is no greater proof of his love than to have Jesus take our place

We cry want God to prove himself by intervening in our temporal affairs, neglecting how he has proven himself by intervening in our eternal affairs

Christ cried out “My God, why have you forsaken me” – so we would never have to

 

JUST AS HE SAID

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said  Matthew 28:5-6

I think each of us needs this same reminder to take to heart what Jesus has “said”

Every word our Lord has spoke is precious and true. Yet how many words from his mouth have you forgotten?  What has Jesus already said, that would would minister to your heart today, but it has fallen from your attention?  And what has your Savior done that proves to you his goodness and faithful remembrance of you?

Give timto remember that Jesus always remembers you.

Reflect upon how he always fulfills what he has said. 

Thank him for the amazing display of what he has already manifested to you out of his love and mercy. 

Do you embrace the title of “believer”? Then live in expectation that Christ has spoken wonderful truths about his purposes for you today, and that he always does what he says!


EASTER LEFTOVERS 3.28.16

Is Jesus alive? It really does matter

 

I Corinthians 15:14-19

We all want to fill our life with what really matters. You may have nothing against Easter, but you wonder – does it really matter?

 

Many people think Jesus’ resurrection is an empty myth

The Bible itself describes the implications if that is true

If Easter is not true, Christianity calls itself empty and foolish

v14 our preaching would be empty: it is meaningless to be here talking about a myth

v14 our faith would be empty: it is foolish to trust in Jesus to give life if he is lifeless

v15 we would be misrepresenting God, by making up what he has done

The entire weight of Christianity rests on whether or not Easter is true

 

There is An Even Bigger Implication About Easter

v17 “If Christ has not been raised . . you are still in your sins”

We are all sinners! We know it’s true, but we cover it over

We tell ourselves, ‘I’m not as bad as other people’. But you are still a sinner

Or we think, ‘I have done more good stuff than bad’. But you are still a sinner

God is perfect and this has a couple unavoidable implications

(1) He will not allow sin to enter and ruin heaven

(2) He must judge all sin – and we are all sinners!

Human religions respond: “You must do certain things to get rid of guilt”

They place the weight of our eternity on our being faithful enough to earn forgiveness

This may appeal to our pride but it doesn’t change reality: no religious activity or good works can undo that “we are still in our sin”

Christianity is totally different, it declares God did it all

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16)

We cannot undo our sin, so God came to us to remove the guilt of our sin

Jesus died and was raised for one purpose – to save sinners

If Easter is false, then no one has solved our sin problem

We cannot save ourselves, so if Jesus was not raised, we have no hope

 

The Importance of Easter Is In What It Proves

1. Jesus’ resurrection proves he was not just a man

The Bible says, Jesus was declared Son of God by the resurrection from dead (Romans 1:4)

Some have lived after people thought they had died, but no one has raised themselves out of the grave

2. Jesus’ resurrection proves the purpose of his death was accomplished

Death is God’s penalty for sin and Jesus died to pay for that penalty

Jesus’ resurrection shows us there is no penalty left on the sins he died for

 

How Can We Know If Jesus Really Is Alive?

Jesus’ death was very public so was his resurrection

Over centuries many who tried to disprove it, ended up believing

The great proof God gives is strong, because it comes from the inside

No matter how strongly verified, a proof can be ignored

But Christ proves himself by what he does in us

Let God prove himself to you by what he wants to do in you

How do we receive from Jesus the life he gives?

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved”  (Romans 10:9)

“Confess” – that you are a sinner who needs Christ

“Believe” – in who Jesus is and what he has done

 

Is Jesus Dead or Alive?

It really does matter, for your eternity and in your life now

Your sin can be forgiven – totally and forever!

Your trust will be in Jesus who is alive and able to help!

Your life will have purpose, because Jesus controls our eternity

It really does matter how we respond to Jesus today

Is he at work in your heart right now? Don’t push him off

Do you want to believe? Ask him to give you faith

WHAT HAPPENED BEHIND THE STONE?

“Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking (Jesus) down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”  Mark 15:46

When that large stone sealed off Jesus tomb, it added a sense of finality to his death.  For those who loved Jesus, he was gone!  For those who followed him, it appeared that his ministry and their hope was now over.

What had Jesus’ disciples done while Jesus was taken from them?  Not much.  After Jesus’ arrest, Peter followed “at a distance” and then denied knowing him.  The women who ministered to Jesus, watched the crucifixion “at a distance”.

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who belonged to the council that condemned Jesus could not stop what took place.  Afterward Joseph gave Jesus a proper burial, as some might say, it was too little too late.

Jesus’ followers meant well, and a few tried to do something, but they could not stop those events.  I think we can relate to them.  It does not take much to reveal the true extent of our limitations.  Even our best efforts don’t look like much and at times we wonder if our lives actually make a difference.

It is true that God always expects us to respond to each situation in a way that honors him; but God never expects us to be the answer or the solution.  

What needed to take place behind the stone that closed Jesus’ tomb was all of God.  Mankind had absolutely nothing to do with these great events God was accomplishing. 

What a relief!  Jesus disciples did not have to come through in the end, and they did not have to figure out how to make it work.  That was God’s job.

Behind that stone where Jesus body lay in death, God was still being perfect, God was completely in charge. He was still glorious and almighty! 

For behind that stone, sin – Satan – and death would suffer an eternal defeat.  Behind that stone, the hope for humanity came to life.  What took place behind that stone was beyond human reason, beyond our experience and beyond any expectation.

Yet for all the wonder of that moment, God was not being more of what He had always been.  He is perfect, glorious and almighty at all times. 

If you are in Christ, He is always being glorious with you, for you are forever saved. He is always being perfect toward you, for he loves you in the same measure that he loves Christ.  And God’s plan is always prevailing for you, for the day keeps drawing nearer when you will be glorified.

Now that the stone has been rolled away giving us an open display of God’s glory, how does it affect the way we live?  Do we live wholly dependent upon Christ? 

We answer that question by looking to see if there are any areas in which we are still trying to be in charge. If there are, then we are not wholly dependent on Him.

Do we live trusting that Christ has accomplished everything we need?  He will not accomplish everything we want, because that would diminish his always being perfect toward us; since much of what we want is not best. 

How do we know if we are trusting that God has accomplished all we need?  The answer is in our contentment when God does not do what we want.  If we are not content with God’s way of responding, then we really don’t trust that He is accomplishing everything we need.

Let us be freshly committed to live as if God really did know what He was doing behind that stone – and everywhere else.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.06.15

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence      

There is no shortage of people who claim they can ‘make our life better’

Oprah interviews them, QVC sells their products, and on Election Day we put them in office

Even as skeptics, we find it hard to resist the claim: “Eat all you want and still lose weight!”

The Astronomer Carl Sagan, wrote

‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’

This is a requirement that Christianity has no problem meeting

Christianity makes extraordinary claims

We do this because Jesus made extraordinary claims about himself:

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28)

“I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt 24:35)

Jesus went further; he made claims greater than anyone who ever lived  

“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)

According to Jesus claims about himself:

There are not many ways to God – there is only him

There are not different paths of truth – it is all found in him

There are no other sources for eternal life – only Jesus gives it

How could Jesus make such claims?

When challenged on the authority behind his claims, Jesus once responded:

“Destroy this (body) and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19)

Jesus declared that his resurrection from the dead would be proof that his claims are true

Jesus can make greater claims than anyone else, because he still lives

There is no better basis for making claims about life, than by defeating death

The bodies of everyone else who had theories about how we should live – are dust

Resurrection is so extraordinary a claim; others don’t try to make it

Christianity alone boldly says;

Jesus lives, or all we believe is a lie!

Christianity has stood on this claim, since the first Easter

Many have wanted to disprove Jesus resurrection, but all have failed

Resurrection should interest us, since we all die

Death presents an enormous problem that we cannot fix

1.  Death brings us (who are sinners) before God who is perfect

2.  Death brings us to the appointed time of judgment

“It is appointed for man to die once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27)

This is God’s world and he judges us by his standard, our standards and measurements will not matter

Jesus solved this huge problem of our facing God who judges all sin

Jesus, the Son of God, became a man and lived without sin

Undeserving of death, he gave his life to pay the penalty the Father requires for our sin

How can we be sure? 

The resurrection proves that the penalty Jesus died for was paid in full

Because Jesus is alive now he can help you now

“(Jesus) is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25)

Jesus came for the express purpose of restoring us to God

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25)

‘Believing’ in Jesus, means we accept and act upon his claims

We do this by confessing our need and submitting to His rule

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)

What do you believe about Christ, and about yourself?

If there is truth you do not know about Jesus death and resurrection – do you want to know it?

If Jesus is alive now to save those who trust in him – will you call out for him to save you?

A LOT CAN HAPPEN INDEED

Let’s praise with exceeding joy, prayer with fervor, and gather with great expectation!

THOUGHTS ABOUT THE CROSS

I have gathered a few quotes about the cross to help guide out thoughts this week

“Spikes, bloodied from previous use, were hammered into his hands and feet. Pain shot up through his legs and across his shoulders as the cross was dropped rudely into the ground he had created.”

Elyse Fitzpatrick

 “Most professing Christians actually know very little of the gospel, let alone understand its implications for their day-to-day lives. My perception is that most of them know just enough gospel to get inside the door of the kingdom. They know nothing of the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

“We fail to see the gospel as the solution to our greatest problem-our guilt, condemnation, and alienation from God. Beyond that, we fail to see it as the basis of our day-to-day acceptance with Him. As a result, many believers live in spiritual poverty.”

Jerry Bridges

 “If there’s anything in life we should be passionate about, it’s the gospel. And I don’t mean passionate only about sharing it with others; I mean passionate in thinking about the gospel, reflecting upon it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world and all of life.”

C.J. Mahaney

 “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God.

So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. ‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared’ (Luther).”

Dietrich Bonhoffer

“The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, “This is love.” God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, “This is love.”

Joshua Harris

 “How is it that I let the beauty and power and vastness of that gospel be crowded out of my mind so often and for so long?

Why is it that my thoughts and emotions are often dominated by silly things like whether my car is clean, or what’s happening on CNN right now, or whether I was happy with my lunch today, rather than by these glorious truths?

Why do I so often organize and think about my life as if I were wearing blinders, rather than in the light of eternity?

Why does this gospel not permeate, all the time and all the way to the bottom, my relationships with my wife and children, my coworkers and friends and fellow church members?

I know exactly why. It’s because I’m a sinner, and worldliness will continue to linger in my heart and war against me until the day Jesus comes back. But until then, I want to fight against that.”

Greg Gilbert

HOW MANY WATCHED JESUS DIE?

How many people watched Jesus die on the cross?

Dozens, hundreds, thousands?

If we include angels and demons – was it millions, billions?

What did they feel?

Revulsion, excitement, numbness, heartache, victory, confusion, despair?

Do you look at the cross?

I know you were not there.

But each of us can turn our eyes to the cross

We look to be reminded of what took place

We look to be impacted but what was accomplished

The gospel declares that if we ignore the cross – we are without hope. And love for Christ calls us to gaze long and full

We can live before the cross.

The plan of God was victorious, and the war for our soul was won!

Judgment fell, wrath was poured out, and guilt was removed

Sin was paid for and Heaven was satisfied

The god of this world was defeated and death received its own sentence

Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “for the joy that was set before him, (Jesus) endured the cross”.

Christian, if Jesus endured the cross for the joy of saving us, what reason can we give not to keep our attention on that cross?

Oh, let us gaze upon the cross, meditate on the cross and live always before the cross.

If you have never practiced thinking about the cross, here are some ideas

1.  Start by reading the gospel accounts of the crucifixion

Read slowly, imagine yourself there, and ask why each part of the story is included

2.  Praise God for as much about the cross as you can bring to your mind

Don’t be rushed to think of things; allow God to fill your thoughts. Then ask Him to penetrate your heart with the implications.

3.  Read some good books about the cross

The Cross-Centered Life   by CJ Mahaney

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die   by John Piper

In My Place Condemned He Stood   by J.I. Packer and Mark Dever

The Truth of the Cross   by R.C. Sproul

The Cross of Christ   by John R.W. Stott

 4.  Try listening to some of the great songs about the cross

Sovereign Grace Music consistently publishes meaty cross-centered music. Put YouTube to good use.

The hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts, is one of my favorite songs about the cross:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

We all think about many things each day, let’s put the cross at the front of the line – and keep it there.