Sunday, April 5, 2015

Defeating death on Easter morning, 'Christ is Risen Indeed!'

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and 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. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (Paul to the Corinthians on the Resurrection of Christ)
The tomb is empty! Countless eye-witness and testimony fulfilled what Christ had proclaimed: death is not the end...
WND: The disciples had heard from an angel that Jesus had risen again. And it changed a disheartened, frightened group of fishermen, tax collectors and the like into bold preachers of the gospel. The world was not the same as a result.

That alone is, in my opinion, one of the most compelling arguments for the historicity of the Resurrection. Some claim the disciples made it up because they wanted to start a new religion. But I find it interesting that they all died a martyr’s death, with the exception of John, who was banished to the island of Patmos. Not one of them recanted on their deathbed. Not one of them said, “We made it all up.” If someone has lived a lie, he usually wants to get something like that off his chest on his deathbed. But none of them confessed it wasn’t true. They could not deny what had changed everything about their lives. Jesus was alive.

The Resurrection impacted them, and it impacts us, too. Why? Because one day we are all going to die. There is nothing we can do to change that.

The good news is that because Jesus died and then rose from the dead, we can live forever. The resurrection of Jesus was the death of death. The Bible tells us, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Here is what Easter was saying to the disciples and to us: Death is not the end.
God's message to a humanity of sin and death continues to rejuvenate dulled minds to this very day. And it is upon this anniversary that the good news, Christ's gift of everlasting life, should rekindle our will, refreshing our hearts, minds, bodies and souls...
CRU: We’ve heard the story countless times. So many that perhaps we no longer respond in astonishment, belief, and worship. But the news of Easter is more glorious than we dare to hope – truly the “greatest day in history,” as we’ve probably heard sung in church. Because Jesus did rise from the dead, He not only proved Himself to be the Messiah, but also rescued us from our sins and the wrath we deserve.

Paul puts this in perspective: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:17,20). We are not guilty before our holy God because Christ has been raised; we are no longer dead in our sins.

How can we be refreshed in the truth of the Gospel daily, rather than let Easter pass away in a flurry of peeps and Easter eggs? As we become more aware of our own sin, we can run to the cross, again experiencing the Gospel and resting in the truth of God’s grace and forgiveness. We can read God’s Word, seeing the Gospel throughout. We can seek out Gospel-centered community and preach this good news to each other often.

Because this truly is good news! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!
We can love God, and we can love one another, abandoning our sin upon the cross, leaving death behind in the tomb, seeking to follow in Christ's righteousness.

He IS Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Additional passages: Matthew 27: 50-53Matthew 28: 1-10Mark 16: 1-8Luke 24:1-12, John 11: 25-26, Romans 1: 4-5, Romans 6: 8-11, Philippians 3: 10-12, 1 Peter 1: 3

Related link: Jesus' resurrection changed the world and is changing it still: Erick Erickson

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