15 July 2007

"I AM the Resurrection and the life (part 2)"--John 11:25-26

Part 1.
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"There in the ground His body lay. Light of the World by darkness slain. Then BURSTING FORTH IN GLORIOUS DAY UP FROM THE GRAVE HE ROSE AGAIN!!!!" (From "In Christ Alone, written by Keith Getty and Sturat Townsend and recorded by Newsboys.)

Out of all the 31,102 verses in the Bible, two of the most important verses are Matthew 28:5-6—“I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here for HE IS RISEN!!!! Come see where the Lord lay.” We worship a Lord who didn’t stay dead and buried. We don’t go flocking to a building and see Him in a casket. We don’t make a pilgrimage to a cemetery or a shrine to see a headstone that says, “Here lies Jesus, who was crucified.” If we do go to the place where they think He was buried, you know what you’ll see? An empty tomb! A hole in the side of a hill, where our Lord…was…once. But you know what? He ain’t there anymore!! What does it mean that Jesus rose from the grave? Does it even matter? Of course it does. Because if Jesus died, and was still dead, and was never raised from the dead, we would be no better off than those who worship Allah, or Buddha, or any of the millions of Hindu gods. We would be no better off than the Pagans and Wiccans that worship trees and rocks.

In fact, we’d be even worse off than they are! Listen to what Paul says in 1st Corinthians 15:12-19—…if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty…and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified…that He raised up Christ…if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen…you are still in your sins…If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Let me take Paul’s words, and use them to reflect the truth about our faith:

“…there is indeed a resurrection of the dead. And since there is a resurrection from the dead, Christ is risen! And since Christ is risen, our preaching is full of life, and we are saved by our faith…and we are found to be faithful witnesses of GOD, for we testify…that He did indeed raise up Christ…Because the dead rise, then Christ is risen. And since Christ is risen…we are no longer in our sins!! Hallelujah!!...Because we hope in eternal life, we are of all men the most fortunate, and most blessed.”

And He stands ready for all who wish to seek out His truth. And He is even ready for those who wish to examine Him further. Listen to what He tells Thomas in John 20:27—“Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach in your finger, and behold my hands; and reach in your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.’ And that’s what He still says today. “If you don’t believe me, examine me all you want. And believe.”

There are many who will try to say, “Oh, you just want to believe that old fairy tale!” I would say to them, “It’s more of a fairy tale to not believe!!” I want to share with you something I read just the other day. When someone says that “faith and science aren’t compatible,” remember this. The “Human Genome Project” began back in the 1980’s. This project set out to map the entire genetic code that is found on our DNA, and map every single gene. There are billions of genes that give us our eye color, hair color, which way we comb our hair. You would think that the man who was the leader of this project, a man deeply dedicated to science, would be the kind of person to be most vocal in his disbelief in any kind of god, let alone an Almighty GOD. But listen to his own words:

"As the director of the Human Genome Project, I have led a group of scientists to read out the 3.1 billion letters of the human genome, our own DNA instruction book. As a believer, I see DNA, the information molecule of all living things, as God’s language, and the elegance and complexity of our own bodies and the rest of nature as a reflection of God’s plan.

I did not always embrace these ideas. As a student in physical chemistry in the 1970s, I was an atheist, finding no reason to put forward the existence of any truths outside of mathematics, physics and chemistry. But then I went to medical school, and encountered life and death issues at the bedsides of my patients. Challenged by one of those patients, who asked “What do you believe, doctor,” I began searching for answers."

I had always assumed that faith was based on purely emotional and irrational arguments, and was astounded to discover…that one could build a very strong case for the possibility of the existence of God on purely rational grounds. My earlier atheist’s assertion that “I know there is no God” emerged as the least defensible.

“Put your fingers in my nailprints, and put your hand in my side. And do not be faithless, but believe.”

"Behold Him there the risen Lamb. My perfect, spotless righteousness. The great unchangeable I AM, the King of Glory and of Grace." (From "Before The Throne of GOD Above" written by Charitie Bancroft and William Bradbury.)

“I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
In the Old Testament the high priest would sacrifice a lamb on the altar. He would then take the blood and smear it on the four corners of the altar. But on that day at Calvary, Jesus, being both the high priest and the lamb, smeared His own blood on the four corners of the altar of the cross. In the Old Testament, the blood of that lamb had to be shed every year. And it never made anyone righteous. Hebrews 9:11-12— …Christ came as a high priest of good things to come, with a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered the Most Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Jesus came, as a Lamb without spot or blemish. He came as our Great High Priest. He reigns as our King, and our Lord.

And because He stands as our High Priest, and He made a once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins, we no longer need to have someone else go into a room, and we don’t need to bring an animal to be slain. We can go boldly before the throne of grace. Because in Matthew 27:51 it says that the veil of the temple was torn in two FROM THE TOP TO THE BOTTOM. By all accounts this veil was huge. For it to be torn at all was…you could say…a miracle. But for it to be torn from the TOP was something that only GOD could do. But then again, only GOD can forgive sins. Only GOD could provide a new and living way to salvation. Jesus said that if they destroyed the temple of His body, He would raise it again in three days. And indeed He did. He has opened up heaven to all, by way of the cross.

And the cross is the only way to heaven. Someone may say, “Well, I just don’t believe there’s only one way.” I’m sorry to hear that. Because the cross IS the only way to heaven. When Jesus said, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life” He meant that He is THE resurrection and THE life. And once you die, that’s it. Hebrews 9:27—it is appointed for a man to die once, and then the judgment. You either go to heaven or to hell. There’s no in-between. There is no purgatory, like Catholics will try to tell you. There is no celestial, terrestrial, telestial kingdom like Mormons will try and tell you. You are not reincarnated like Hindus will try to tell you. The wicked aren’t just wiped out like the Jehovah's Witnesses will try and tell you. It's only Heaven or Hell. And there is only one way to heaven. That way is Jesus Christ.

I’ve seen bumper stickers that say, “GOD is too big to be contained in one religion.” It’s more like, GOD is too holy to accept any other religions. I would urge you today, if you haven’t thought about it, or if you’ve been thinking you knew the way, we’ll have people here to talk with you about eternity. As it says in the Book of Acts, “There is no other name by which we may be saved.”

"And when we’ve been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing GOD’s praise than when we’d first begun. " (From "Amazing Grace" written by John Newton.)

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