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Sunday, December 24, 2017 pm

 

HOPE IN THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS

 If I were to ask, why are you here today, what would your answer be?  There may be many answers to this question, some better than others.  At this time of year, more people than usual are thinking about Jesus coming to this earth.  They are remembering His birth and the hope we have because of it.  While scripture does not teach, nor authorize the church to observe the birth of Jesus with a special day or commemorative celebration, the fact is that we are here because He was born.  However, our presence here today is not any different than any other Sunday, and our remembrance of His birth is no different than what we would do or say at any other time of the year.

 But even more than considering the birth of Jesus, we are here because Jesus lived so that He could be the atoning sacrifice that God would ultimately accept for our sins.  We are here because Jesus died on the cross and arose from the dead.  Our hope rests in this.  So today, I would like to make some observations about our hope in the resurrection.

 I.                     The preaching of the resurrection in scripture

a.       Jesus, while on this earth promised that He would be raised again.  He spoke of the resurrection.   Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 26:32, “After I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
John 11:25, He said to Martha, “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…”

b.       1 Corinthians 15:1-11, it is central to the gospel.  1 Corinthians 1:12-19, if Christ was NOT raised, we will not be raised and are of all men most pitiable.

c.        Preached continually in the book of Acts –

                                                   i.      Acts 2:22-36 – a main point in Peter’s sermon on Pentecost

                                                 ii.      Acts 4:9-12 – Peter’s sermon before the council.

                                                iii.      Acts 5:28-32 – Again, before the council with the other apostles, Peter speaks

                                                iv.      Acts 10:39-40 – Peter teaching Cornelius

                                                  v.      Acts 13:13-41 – Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey in Antioch of Pisidia

                                                vi.      Acts 17:31-32 – In Athens, Paul is preaching to Gentiles, including philosophers. 

                                              vii.      Acts 23:6 – it was concerning the resurrection that Paul was being judged.

                                             viii.      Acts 24:15 – Paul had hope in a resurrection

d.       MOST of the epistles mention the resurrection of Jesus, and often appeal to our resurrection in so doing:  Romans 1:4, 1 Corinthians 15; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:20, Philippians 3:10-11; Colossians 2:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 1:3, etc.

 II.                   Our hope through the resurrection –

a.       We live our lives in hope – we sacrifice, we exercise self-discipline, we react different than the world, and maybe even suffer because we have hope of something better.  As we read of Moses in Hebrews 11:26 who gave up Egypt because, “he looked to the reward.
Romans 5:1-5 – we face tribulations because we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Our tribulations lead to hope. 

Romans 12:12 – we rejoice in hope, are patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer, etc.

Ephesians 1:18, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

b.       Because Jesus was raised, we too have hope that we too will be raised.  That was one of the points Paul was making in 1 Corinthians 15. 

1 Peter 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, we do not sorrow as others who have no hope, because we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and He will bring His saints with Him

c.        Hebrews 6:19-20, this hope we have as an anchor of the soul…

d.       1 John 3:3, everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself, just as He is pure.

 III.                 Why the resurrection gives us hope

a.       1 Peter 3:15 calls for us to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts and be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us. That hope, at least in part, is based upon the resurrection of Jesus.

b.       The resurrection was so important that not only was it the focus of so many sermons, its reality was also extensively emphasized and argued. 
Each of the gospel recounts numerous appearances of Jesus.  The appearances included times where He assured them it was really Him (He ate and let them touch Him – Luke 24:36-43: John 20:26-29, the next Sunday; 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 records several of these appearances including one occasion where He appeared to more than 500 at one time, etc.)
Matthew 28:11-15 records the bribing of the guards because Jesus was risen. 
ADD to this the willingness of the disciples to die and suffer persecutions implies they believed that Jesus had arisen. 
Acts 1:3, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Acts 26:7-8, as Paul gave defense for his hope before Agrippa, he asked, Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

c.        The resurrection is so important that it is a primary focus of critics of God and scripture.  
You disprove the resurrection, you defeat Christianity!  Period. 
That is why the resurrection was so controversial in scripture.  Again in the book of Acts we read in - -- Acts 4:2 that Peter and John were arrested and the council was greatly disturbed because they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
- Act 17:30-31 – in Athens, when Paul mentioned the resurrection some mocked.

d.       From a stand point of proving our faith the resurrection proves many things.
IF you want to be able to defend your faith before others, learn as much about the resurrection as you can.   Consider that IF you can prove the resurrection you can prove:

                                                   i.      That miracles exist – the resurrection is a genuine miracle.  Not something called a miracle.

                                                 ii.      That there is a God – miracles prove the existence of God, because only a divine being who is greater than His creation could work OUTSIDE of the laws of nature.  God did this often to prove who He is and that His word is to be accepted.

                                                iii.      That the God of the Bible IS the ONE true God.  He both foretold and did raise Jesus from the dead.  That gives Him sovereign authority.  Cf. again Acts 17:30-31

                                                iv.      Furthermore, God has directly interacted with man.  Some world religions (views) reject a personal, active God.   The resurrection proves that God loves us and cares – John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-16, Romans 5:8.

                                                  v.      That Jesus IS our only source of hope – John 14:6 – He is the way, truth and life.  The ONLY way of access to the Father.
Romans 1:4, Paul noted Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead.

                                                vi.      That we need to follow the New Testament.  No other holy book declares Jesus as our Savior.  The miracles, especially the resurrection it teaches, is cause to consider its message.

                                              vii.      There is reason to be faithful.  Because the New Testament teaches there is a resurrection, we have cause to endure, even in the face of adversities, etc.  
2 Corinthians 4:14, 4:16-5:8 – we do not lose heart.  We walk by faith anticipating something better.
Of all the world’s faiths, many of which believe in some sort of afterlife, ONLY Christianity gives proof of it.  1 Corinthians 15:19, if in this life only we have hope…
1 Corinthians 15:58, as Paul concludes his discourse on the resurrection, he challenges us with it – to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain, in the Lord.

 

Truly, the resurrection is important to us as Christians.  It is at the very foundation of our faith.  When we become Christians, we think of His death, burial and resurrection as we are baptized (Romans 6:3-4).   As Christians, when we sin, it is the blood of Jesus, as our Mediator (He lives) that we receive forgiveness (again) – 1 John 1:7-9.  We have hope and we are here because of the resurrection of our Lord.  What does He mean to you?