Well, happy Easter, or should I say resurrection day!
This is a sermon I preached this morning in the church I pastor, Faith United Church, Hempstead Texas.
This is Easter or Resurrection Sunday, the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. As a Christian, and one who believes in the bodily resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, it has been interesting to see how the media and others in our culture handle this day. You see, they don’t want to believe in the resurrection. They will try all kinds of ways to disprove it. Not only that, just do a google search concerning Easter and you will find that more attention is given to Easter sales and Easter getaway packages on air fares and hotel rates than to the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
A woman wrote in to a question and answer forum, “Dear Sirs, our preacher said on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think?” Sincerely, Bewildered. Soon after, this reply was posted: “Dear Bewildered, beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear thru his side…put in in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens.” Sincerely, Charles.
The belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is of absolute importance. In fact, it is so important, that our salvation literally rides on it.
Romans 10:9-10 – (9) If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, one confesses, resulting in salvation.
The Apostle Paul in our Scripture text has a few things to say concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ and its importance. Let’s look.
The first consequence if Jesus is not raised from the dead.
verses 13-15 –(13) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; (14) and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith. (15) In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ – whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised.
If Jesus is not raised from the dead, then our preaching is in vain, or without foundation (HCSB). That phrase, “without foundation,” lets us know that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the foundation stones of Christianity. You see, one of the founding doctrines set up in the early church which they went out to proclaim was the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Acts 1:22 – Beginning from the baptism of John until the day He was taken up from us – from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness of His resurrection.
Acts 2:32 – God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this.
Acts 4:10 – Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead – by Him this man is standing here before you healthy.
Acts 4:33 – And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them.
Romans 1:4 – and was established as the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness.
If Christ is not raised, then there will be no resurrection.
verse 16 – For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised.
Our resurrection stands or falls on if He was raised.
If Christ is not raised, then we are still dead in our sins.
verses 17-19 – (17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. (18) Therefore those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. (19) If we have placed our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.
If He isn’t raised, our faith is worthless and we are still in our sins. If Christ isn’t raised, then those who have died before us aren’t in heaven, but have perished completely. If this is true and our only hope is in this life, then we are pitied, miserable people, more than anyone else.
But thanks be to God, Christ is risen! And His resurrection guarantees us life everlasting as well as a resurrection.
verses 20-23 – (20) But know Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (21) For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. (22) For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. (23) But each in his order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, the people of Christ.
His resurrection is the firstfruits or the first sign that all will be resurrected, not only those who have fallen asleep, but are alive as well.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 – (14) Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. (15) For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are still alive 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.
Church, Christ Jesus is coming again! Not as a Sacrificed lamb, but as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! He is coming as the King of all Kings, and Lord of all Lords.
Revelation 19:11-16 – (11) Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. (12) His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. (13) He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is called the Word of God. (14) The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. (15) From His mouth came a sharp sword, so that with it He might strike the nations. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. (16) And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
His resurrection counteracts what we received from Adam. In Adam we received death. In Christ we receive not only eternal life, but resurrected life.
Christ’s resurrection assures us that God’s kingdom is coming in full power to destroy death as well as all evil.
verses 24-26 – (24) Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and authority and power. (25) For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. (26) The last enemy to be abolished is death.
One day all the enemies of God: sin, sickeness, pain, suffering, anti-christs, false prophets, false religion, atheism, even death itself, will be abolished and placed under His reign and King and Lord. And when this happens, Christ Jesus will hand over the kingdom to God the Father, because all of His enemies are defeated. What does this tell us – we are on the winning team! A team filled with resurrected life, longing for the day we can see our Savior face to face.
Don’t let anyone tell you that believing in Christ’s resurrection isn’t important; it is of upmost importance.
Easter isn’t about bunnies and eggs, and candy and stuff. It is about an empty tomb and a resurrected, soon coming King. Let’s celebrate in Him this morning.