The Significance of the Resurrection

He is risen!  I hope you all are having a marvelous Resurrection Day, as we remember our risen Savior.  This day, we remember the single greatest, most important event in the history of the world: the resurrection of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.  Death could not hold our Lord and Savior.

Today we wrap up the “Jesus Died” series with the resurrection.  You see, Jesus did die, and that’s what this series has been about.  But the good news is that He did not stay in the grave.  He rose again.  So today, I’ll be looking at three truths and conclusions from the resurrection.  This is by no means exhaustive, as the implications of the resurrection and the bearing it has on our lives are infinite, but hopefully you take truth from this and we can more clearly see what happened when that tomb was rolled away and our Savior rose.

1) The Gospel, and Jesus, is true!

If the resurrection had not happened, Jesus would have been a liar, and our faith would be in vain, and there would be absolutely no reason to live.  Thank goodness the resurrection is true, and that grave is empty.

Jesus prophesied in John 2:19, after cleansing the temple, that He would rise again: “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘it has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’  But he was speaking about the temple of his body.  When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.”

If this had not come true, if Jesus was not raised, then it would stand to call Jesus a liar.  If He was a liar, He was not perfect.  If He was not perfect, He cannot take away our sin, and death would have won, and we would have no hope.  However, we know that Jesus was raised.  In fact, we see that Jesus had a role in His resurrection.  He said “I will raise it up.”

John 11:25: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?'”

Do you believe this?  That’s the question we must all ask ourselves.  If we have only head knowledge, we have nothing.  We must place all of our faith, hope, and our very lives on the risen Savior.  Jesus asked this to Martha, and her response was to call Jesus the “Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”  Are we willing to lay down our lives to the one who gave it all up for us?

Since the gospel is true, we also know our sins are forgiven.  Look back on the most famous verse in Scripture: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”–John 3:16-17

Romans 8:1–“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

2 Corinthians 5:21–“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.”

We are free, Christians.

2) Jesus lives as our High Priest

Reflecting on what God has done should not stop at salvation, for God’s love did not stop at the cross.  It did not end at conversion.  The truth of the gospel, and the blessings of grace, continue throughout our lives.  God has saved us and justified us in Christ, but there is still work to be done in this life, not for salvation, but as a result of it.  Those whom come to know Christ, God has ordained that they will become like Him.  That’s exciting to me.  We are being transformed.  This does not come easy though.  Christians, can we be honest and say we’re quick to mess up the new life we have in Christ?  Can we be honest with ourselves and say we still make mistakes?  And then, would you look with me in Scripture and see the Savior who was perfect for us, and whose love never leaves us?

Hebrews 7:23-28: “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.  For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.  He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.  For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.”

Eat this up.  Savor it.  Jesus is our high priest.  We need no earthly priest to take away our sin, and we have no need for a mediator.  The Bible is clear that Jesus is our mediator.  All of our efforts to absolve ourselves of sin fall short.  Jesus alone can take our sins away and forgive us.  And He does so perfectly and permanently.

Look at 1 John 1:8: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  Jesus said the same when He said He’s come to save “not the righteous, but the sick.”  Those who are self-righteous, and see themselves as having no sin, will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  The gospel must first be the bad news that we are all sinners and unworthy of God before it can be the good news of salvation for those sinners.  In order to be saved, to trust in Christ, we must recognize our sin, and repent.  But repentance brings a firm promise: Jesus will forgive if we confess and repent of our sin.  Look at verse 9, one of my favorite verses in the Bible: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

All unrighteousness.  All of it.  Jesus paid it all.  And He is making all things new.  When we come to know Jesus, we have all of our sins washed away: past, present, and future.  Jesus’ grace is strong enough to cover all of our sin.  Do we seriously believe that Jesus is unable to cover sin we commit after coming to know Him?  Because if He’s not….not many people are Christians.  God’s love doesn’t just save us…it sustains us.  It convicts us.  It leads us back to repentance, so we may receive grace to walk in Christ again.

However, the Bible is also clear (1 John 3:4-6) that those who continue in unrepentant, persistent, habitual sin with no regard for Christ and holiness are not true believers.  We all will struggle and stray off the path.  God knows this, and is perfectly prepared to bring us back by His grace.  But for those who think that going to church, doing religious things, and being moral make them perfect and right before God, the bad news is is that those things do not take away sin.  They smell to God.  And the smell isn’t pretty.  Put your faith in Jesus, throw all of your hope, and your soul itself, on Jesus and His work, and be saved.

1 John 2:1-3: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”

If we sin, does God stop loving us?  It’s a question on the back of Christian’s minds everywhere: If I sin, and struggle with sin, even severely, after coming to know Jesus…does God still love me?

If we love God, it is because He has first loved us (1 John 4:19).  Perfect love does not let go.  Romans 8:31-35 says “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn?  Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”

For those whom God has called, those whom He has loved through Jesus Christ, His love is permanent, unchanging, and faithful.  This does not mean we can’t displease Him, for we can.  But if we hold fast to Christ, and we have given our lives to Him in salvation, then throughout our lives what I’m convinced will happen is this: The same love which saved us and gave us new life will sanctify us in our failures by leading us to repent, and to receive grace and forgiveness, and to lead us back to Christ.  That same love will teach us, lead us, and guide us, and eventually, one day, that grace, that love, so marvelously shown at Calvary, will bring us home.

For the Christian, the desire to sin, in an enslaving, dominant way, has been killed.  Sin seemed to have a grip on me, for years, but because I knew Christ, it could not hold me down, and by God’s good and perfect grace, He has led me to repentance, and is teaching me what it means to follow Jesus as Lord.  God’s love never leaves us.  If you’re a Christian, and you’re struggling with sin…welcome to the club.  You’re not alone.  Paul’s letters to churches show that every Christian from every generation has struggled with sin in one way or another.  But our nature, our desires, have changed, and this leads to repentance, which leads us back to grace.  God’s discipline is love.  He disciplines us and convicts us, so that we will repent and find our joy in Jesus.

Jesus is the high priest that intercedes for His people constantly.  While we are still here on Earth, Jesus promises to guide us, to sanctify us, and to lead us back to Him.  His grace is good, and is always stronger than our sin.  Repent, be restored, and abide in Christ.  In doing this, you will die to yourself and begin to obey Christ more and more.  In this death, you shall truly live.  We die to sin every day, as we rise with Christ to walk by the Spirit which is ours.  Christian, do not desire sin.  Pray constantly.  Rest in what Jesus has done, repent, be filled, and obey the Lord by trusting in Him.

3) Jesus is coming back.

This is great news.  Not only did Jesus die to take away our sins, not only does He now live to be our great high priest who forgives His sheep, but our risen and reigning Savior is coming back to rule for all eternity.

1 Peter 1:3-5: “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 Christ 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 a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

We have hope, a great inheritance, that is awaiting us when we obtain our eternal salvation, kept for us by Jesus through our faith.  That’s pretty cool…our faith is being guarded by the God of all creation who gave it to us to begin with.  I think that’s awesome.  You won’t find this security in anything or anyone else.  Man, Jesus is good!

How can one be saved?  I hope that pastors and ministers around the country hear this every day, especially today.  Put your faith in Jesus, acknowledge your sin and repent, turn away from it, and lay it on Jesus.  Trust in Him for salvation, and give your life to Him as Lord.  The Bible does not promise health and wealth.  The prosperity gospel is a lie from hell.  What the Bible does promise is that Jesus will never leave you and He will never forsake you, no matter what you do, no matter what happens.  He leads us to Himself, to be saved, to be renewed, to repent, to receive grace, and the great hope for believers…to lead us home.

The Christian life is hard.  It’s not easy, it’s messy.  We’re not perfect, we trust in the Lamb who was and is and is to come.  I don’t have it all together, and I’m a work in progress.  But my boss, my potter, and my Lord is the God of the universe, and He is alive, and working, not just in my life, but in the world around me.  That’s reason to rejoice.

Yet, as we rejoice today, remember that we have brothers and sisters around the world who risk their lives to celebrate the risen King.  Pray for the persecuted, that they would continue to shine the light of Christ in the darkest night.  And may we go and give our lives to spread the gospel.  Fulfill the Great Commission.  We are saved from God’s wrath to God’s purpose, to go and declare His glory to the ends of the earth.  Do it.

And one day, peoples from every tribe, tongue, and nation, will fill the heavens, and shout “Worthy is the lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  With one voice, we will shout “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”  For all eternity, we will worship the King: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

May you be encouraged by the truth of the resurrection this Easter Sunday.  May this be a time to reflect on the faithfulness of our God, who is quick to save those who call on Him, and quick to restore those in hurt, those in sin, those who long for Him.  May we rest and rejoice in the amazing fact that God loved us before we even thought of Him.  May you know Jesus, love Jesus, and obey Jesus.

He is risen indeed.

God bless,

Neal E.

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Jesus Died for His Sheep–John 10:1-30

John 10:7-18 says “So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.'”

This may be one of the more challenging passages of Scripture that I’ve gone through, because there is just so much to unpack.  So bear with me, and let’s see what Jesus is telling us here.

The first thing I want us to see is this: that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to get to God.  Why? Well…He is God.  That helps, right?  Here’s the problem with believing that people will get us into a right relationship with God: they’re sinful, just like us.  Our pastors, leaders, prophets of the past, including great men like Abraham, John the Baptist, and Paul, are sinners.  Because of this, there is no way that we can, through them, get to God.  God had to come down Himself to bring us back, and He did this in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ.

All “gods” of this world: Buddha, Allah, idols, pagan gods, and material idols (money, sex, cars, fame) will pass away and burn.  But Jesus, God the Son, came to become the road we need to find God.  The greatest news of all: Jesus traveled the road to get to us, and invites us to walk that road with Him throughout our lives as we move closer to eternal rest in our Father.

Verse 9: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

Jesus says in John 14:6 that no one can come to God except through Him.  With the passage above, we see this in the image of a door.  There is no door number 2 or 3.  There is one door and it is Jesus.  We cannot miss this or misinterpret it.  Some parts of the Bible are harder to understand than others, and some require digging deep to figure it out.  But this is not one of those.  Jesus is it.  No Jesus, no God.  There is no salvation apart from Christ Jesus.

The next thing I want us to see is that Jesus is a GOOD shepherd.  Notice His description of the bad shepherd, that cares not for the sheep, but only for himself, and flees at the first sign of danger.  It appears that Jesus is calling the Pharisees out, and they would understand this.  So what they hear is Jesus condemning them for being false shepherds, being “thieves and robbers,” feeding themselves off the sheep, and not serving them or taking care of them.  Perhaps this is why in the next few minutes, the Pharisees pick up stones to chunk at our Lord.

Notice verses 11, 17-18: What does it say?  That Jesus was murdered, killed, and forced to die?  Not at all.

Jesus “lays down his life” for us.  For His sheep.  He even says that no one takes it from Him, but that He willingly died for us.  That magnifies and multiplies, or at least it should, our view of His death on a cross.  What it means is that He didn’t have to do it.  It wasn’t a punishment.  It was His choice.  John 19:30 says that He “gave up His spirit.” We didn’t kill Jesus, as some have said.  Jesus willingly died for us, to take our sin away.  Now, our sin made a death needed, but we must understand this if we will understand our God: He didn’t have to meet that need.  He didn’t, and doesn’t, owe us anything, except eternal hell because of our sin and rebellion.  But Jesus came and died for us because God loves us.

Jesus calls His sheep, and knows them by name.  “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know my Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  Jesus knows who He is dying for, and it is those whom God has promised will call on His name.  Jesus died specifically for those who will place their faith in Him.  This refutes universalism, which states that everyone will be saved because Jesus died for everyone.  No.  Jesus’ death only paid the penalty for sin for those that believe.  If you don’t believe Christ, and reject Him, His death becomes not your salvation, but the stumbling block that will have you tumbling to hell.

We don’t like to think about this, but we have to.  We must decide what to do with Jesus.  If the Word is true, and I believe it is, Jesus will either be our salvation, if we are His, or He will be the stumbling block to those who do not believe.  Saying His death covered everyone, even if they haven’t believed, is like saying you can look at the top of Everest and imagine you’re there, and you actually are there.  It’s just not possible.  Am I saying it is wrong to tell people Christ died for them?  Absolutely not!  For He did die for them…if they believe.  Jesus has not failed, but in order for our status before God to change as a result of Jesus’ death, we must first place our faith in the fact that He did die for our sin, and only He could do that, which we’ll look at more about in the next post.

Clearing up verse 16, which says there are sheep “not of this fold,” Jesus here states that not only will some Jews be saved, but outside of the fold of the Jews, He will save Gentiles as well.  And they too will hear His voice.  Jesus came for Jew and Gentile.  There will be only “one flock”–those who belong to the “one shepherd”–Jesus.

Jesus calls us sheep in this passage.  I’m not too familiar with sheep, but one thing that we should know is this: they’re stupid.  Is Jesus calling us stupid?  Not directly in this passage, but yes, we are stupid.  Even the wisest man on Earth is stupid when it comes to the infinite wisdom of God, and to knowing Him, for we cannot do it alone.  This is why we need a shepherd.

God must call us to Himself.  The idea of divine calling, of election, is a biblical truth that we must embrace.  We cannot save ourselves, and we need God’s help to get to God.  In Jesus, in this passage, we see that He came to lay down His life for those whom God calls and respond to Jesus.  Verse 27 of this chapter says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  Jesus calls His sheep so that they may follow Him.  Don’t miss this: Jesus called you so that you would not remain in sin anymore.  He calls us to die to ourselves to follow Him because He died that we may live.

How do I know if I’m called?  Do you desire Jesus?  Do you see the truth in the Word?  Do you want Jesus?  Good news…He is calling.  Answer.  It’s not a point we debate within ourselves at the moment of salvation.  If you desire Jesus, He is calling, and He begs you to make Him Lord and Savior of your life.  The shepherd stands at the door, knocking.

Jesus is also one with God.  He is the Son of God, He is also God the Son.  The Father has given the sheep into Jesus’ hands, and He will not lose them.  Verses 28-29: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Good news Christian: Jesus has placed you in the Father’s hands, and He’s not going to drop you or lose you.  While we struggle and sin, and He has to do major work on us, He doesn’t lose His true children.  Why?  Not because they are constantly faithful and being great super-Christians.  But because His sovereign love bought them, and He will keep them.  You know the real reason I decided to come back to Christ a few years ago, and commit to dying to myself, and give myself back to God?  Because God made that happen.  God called, and told me it’s time to come back home, that He still loved me, and His grace reminded me I was free.  He called me to follow Him again…and I knew it was truth.  This is the concept of Jesus calling, that when our Lord calls us, we will know it is Him.  Only He could save me, and only He could have called me back several years ago.  And it is only Him whom we serve.

We also need to see this: Some are not called.  Verse 26 says “But you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.”  This was directed to the Pharisees.  Am I saying that before someone is born, God has decided whether they will follow Him or not?  No.  I’m not sure what to think of that statement, and honestly, I’m still wrestling with that concept.  But I do believe in a sovereign God who has a right to do whatever He wants.  Why?  Because a God who is not in control is not a God at all.  All of us deserve hell, so we can’t argue that God isn’t fair.  In fact, God is ridiculously unfair by our standards, by giving us salvation.  Should we worry about which people are going to respond to the call God gives out in the gospel and who will not?  No, for God is the one who saves.  Our duty is to preach the gospel, and those who God has called will be saved, not from our efforts, but by His grace.

Lastly, know that Jesus’ main purpose was not for us to go to heaven.  It was that we have life, and have life abundantly in God.  For years, I thought being a Christian meant I got to go to heaven, and I just had to go to church once a week.  I was busy living for myself, trying to figure out how to battle sin on my own, how to live my life the way I wanted while still somehow making God happy so I could get heaven.  What I realize now is this: I was too busy living, and I needed to die.  To die to myself, to stop trying to do it on my own, and come back to the God who saved me, to my heavenly Father who sent His Son to die for me, and to follow His lead, to become a sheep again as my beautiful shepherd lead me.  Can I tell you that dying to myself and what I want, and dying to my own efforts at being righteous have led to a holier lifestyle, a more Godly attitude, and more joy and love for God and for people than ever before?  Can you believe that?  That our God works in and through us by grace.  He came, not just for fire insurance, but to give us a full life that can be lived with Him.

God is not to be just another part of our life.  He is to be more than life itself for us.  Jesus says in verse 10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Abundantly.  Would we rather live lives filled with worldly things, temporal pleasures, pleasing ourselves?  Is there anyone who would sacrifice all they have, die to themselves, and enter into a life lived for God, a constant relationship with the Almighty Creator who is our Father and will bless us with His love, protection, peace, and joy, in ways that my words can never fully describe?  I want that.  I pray that you would want true life, that you would want truth, joy, and peace, and a love that only God can give.  Michael Kelley said recently that the message that Jesus is both the means and end of the gospel, that in Jesus we are rich, and that in Jesus we have all we need for an abundant, God-filled life, is a much better message than “Hey…hell is really hot.”  I believe that.  Do you?

May you be encouraged knowing that the good shepherd willingly laid down His life for yours.  May we never forget the sacrifice Jesus made.  May our message to the world be that the only door is Christ.  May our message be, not just one of scare tactics, but one that offers abundant life in God through Jesus, while warning of sin and hell with the rejection of this life.  May we seek our Shepherd, our Jesus, above all things.  My prayer is this, that Jesus would call, and that we, His sheep, would answer to the one who died for us.

God bless,

Neal E.

As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns, or ideas for future posts, you can comment here or email me at rembry@forum.montevallo.edu  Thank you for reading, and have a blessed day!