Saturday, April 23, 2011

Resurrection Sunday 2011

Resurrection Sunday is not about what Jesus can do for you or your broken dreams, but it is about what Jesus did for you. Romans 4:24-25 says, " who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification." This is what Jesus' death and resurrection accomplished for Christians. There are a number of pastors out there that will not be teaching this tomorrow. Instead they will be teaching about a phony Jesus whose death and resurrection has only temporal benefits. They teach this sort of resurrection message because they are not interested in teaching the sheep, but attracting goats (Matthew 25:32). The reason is simple, too many pastors are concerned about having "mega-churches" and million dollar budgets. They fixate on "five-star" amenities, not to benefit the sheep, but to make the goats comfortable. The problem with this is that it is unscriptural. One of the marks of a healthy church is not the amenities, but the teaching.

Too many of these pastors that are fixated with numbers (attenders & finances) do not preach the Gospel. Instead they preach about how the problems (they don't preach about sin) in their lives are the fault of others who damaged them emotionally, or the fault of the white man. The Bible teaches, however, that the main problem with humanity is that it is radically fallen into sin. Paul, in Romans 3:9-20, clearly states the facts regarding humanity's internal malady and the symptoms that this malady manifests. Paul concludes this chapter by stating in verse 19, that all the sins he listed in the previous nine verses were manifestations of humanity's lawlessness which shuts their mouths, and for which they will be held accountable to God.

This message is not palatable to the unregenerate. They prefer to blame the evil they do on damaged emotions, poor environment, lack of education or something else. The problem with this blame shifting is that it makes no difference if a person has damaged emotions, a poor environment or is uneducated because we see example after example of people coming from good environments, with ample education, and with healthy emotions doing horrible things. The problem is not rotted in these issues, but instead rooted in the fact that humanity is radically fallen into sin.

Humanity's sinfulness is described in a number of Bible verses. Genesis 6:5 states that humanity's wickedness was great and that every intention of humanity's thoughts was only evil continually. You may say that this verse describes pre-Flood humanity, and does not apply to us after the Flood. I simply point you to Genesis 8:21 which says that the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the human heart, the seat of reason in Hebrew thought, "is deceitful above all things and desperately sick".

Humanity's sinfulness is so insidious that it even infects our good works. Isaiah 64:6 states that our righteousness is like filthy rags to God. The reason why God sees them as filthy is that humanity uses its good works to justify itself before God. In other words, because I have done A, B & C good works, then God will over look X, Y & Z sins. The problem is that God does not weigh our sin against our good works. God is a holy God and as such He cannot overlook sin. He must deal with it in a manner that reflects His holiness. Therefore, He gave laws in the Old Testament and repeated them in the New Testament and demanded that this law be kept in deed, word and thought. In other words, the law must be kept with 100% accuracy, 100% of the time. Anything less than that is sin. God must punish sin, and He will do so by assigning all those that sin to eternity apart from Him. This is God's justice. Everyone of us has sinned, and therefore everyone of us deserves eternity apart the God who created us and demands that we worship Him.

This is the bad news. It is the black velvet. It is where every presentation of the resurrection needs to begin. It is because of our sin that God in his omniscience predestined that He would send His Son to die the death we should have died after living the life we would not live. This is the ultimate manifestation of God's love, mercy and grace. This is the diamond that is placed on the black velvet background of our sinfulness. That blackness enhances the beauty of the diamond. It makes the diamond shine brighter as it reflects God's love, mercy & grace. Jesus' death of the Roman cross, while ugly and sinful, was the manner in which we could have our sin blotted out.

The redemption story does not end there. Three days after Jesus' death He resurrected from the dead. The resurrection according to Paul was for our justification. In other words, it is the resurrection of Jesus that makes us truly righteous before God. Jesus' resurrection is the seal of approval that God placed on Jesus' death.

OK, so what? What does all of this mean now? Simply, God has provided a way out of your sin, and the subsequent eternal damnation you justly deserve. All you need to do is repent and believe. Now you have heard the real message of Easter, repent and believe in the only person who claimed to be God and proved this claim by raising from the dead. Are you willing to repent and believe?

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