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Face the facts

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Easter message.

Introduction Since today is Easter Sunday I thought that I would put the series on the tabernacle to one side and speak about the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. Do you know the most important thing in our faith, the essential of the Gospel? [1 Corinthians 15:3-8 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. ] The truth and reality of the historical and actual resurrection is fundamental to our faith! [1 Corinthians 15:12-20 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God (that is liars!), because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep (died) in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. ] Hallelujah! Christ has been raised! “Christ the LORD is risen today, Hallelujah!” It is true! The TEV renders: [1 Corinthians 15:20 But the truth is that Christ has been raised from death!] It is incredible but it is true! But, do you know, we sometimes find it easier to accept a lie than believe the truth? I want to talk about “Facing the Facts”. [P] What we think are the “facts” are sometimes not the truth. We think that we have faced the facts but all the time we have missed the truth!

-          road to Emmaus My favourite story of the resurrection is in [P] [Luke 24:13-35 And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began travelling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. (They knew the facts – Jesus was dead, end of story!) “But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. “Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” (They had all the information, the evidence of the resurrection. Jesus had told them that He would rise from the dead, they had the testimony of the women, the angelic witness that He was alive, and the testimony of the empty tomb– but they didn’t get it! To them, the fact was that Jesus was dead) And He said to them, “O foolish men (foolish not to believe the truth, the true testimony that they had received) and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! (They had the information, what they lacked was faith. The truth was in God’s Word.) “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.(they had the facts – what they needed was truth, they had eyewitness accounts but the truth came from Scripture) And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. (They had the facts, then they had revelation, then they knew the truth [P] – the “facts” they held to, what seemed to be the case,  was that Jesus was dead – the truth was that Jesus was alive, He was right there with them if only they had eyes to see. They could actual see Him and still not get it – truth is perceived with the heart. You can have all the evidence and still not get it!) They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.] They had all the facts but still they couldn’t put it together – to them the “fact” was Jesus was dead.

-          Disciples Let’s look at a second case. [P] [Luke 24:36-49 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit (a ghost! It was evidently Jesus but they knew the “facts”: Jesus was dead. Here was evidence that contradicted the “facts” they knew, so to reconcile it they came to the conclusion that this was a ghost! They would believe the incredible and improbable in order to reconcile the facts. See how preconceived notions can prevent us seeing the truth). And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, (There was the plain evidence in front of them and they couldn’t believe it!)  He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them. (Jesus proved that he was not a spirit – how hard it is to convince a mind that knows the “facts”) Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (again, Jesus gave them the truth – even eyewitness evidence didn’t convince them, He gave them the truth of God’s word, revealed the truth, revelation) and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. “You are witnesses of these things. “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”] [P] They thought they had the facts (a ghost), but then they received the truth! (Jesus alive!)

-          Mary in the garden But before these two incidents there was Mary ]P] – the first one to know that Jesus was alive: [John 20:1-18 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”,(There was the evidence of the open tomb, the evidence that it  was empty – we know from Matthew’s account that she had also seen an angel who said: [Matthew 28:5-7 “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”] (She had been told that Jesus was alive, had angelic revelation, been told that Jesus was alive – but she knew the “facts” Jesus was dead) ….. But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, (if all this wasn’t enough she even saw Jesus, alive standing there!) and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”(Mary, knew the “facts” – she was convinced, Jesus was dead!) Jesus said to her, “Mary!” ([P] Then there came revelation – she met the Truth, in the Person of Jesus!) She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.] Mary was convinced of the “facts” (a stolen body) – then she knew the truth! (Jesus alive!)

-          Thomas The last incident I want to look at is that of the infamous doubter: [P] [John 20:19-28 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” (the testimony of men he knew well and trusted, who he’d lived closely with for three years was not enough – Thomas knew the facts: Jesus was dead!) But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (that is what you call prejudice – he was determined not to believe, nothing would convince him but incontrovertible evidence – actually even that isn’t enough [Luke 16:31 “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”]) After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”] [P] Thomas didn’t need that incontrovertible evidence – He, like Mary had personally met the Truth, Jesus. Not just the facts but the Person, the TRUTH.

Me! [P] What about us? What about me? Oh I believe in the resurrection of Jesus. I have said here before that there can only be a resurrection only after there has been a death. You have to die first before you can be resurrected. It is not the resurrection that we have trouble accepting but the death! We know the “facts” – we all have a life to live. We talk about “my life” The truth is it is not our own: [1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.]. The great lie is “My life” – people ask: “what are you going to do with your life?” The obvious facts are that I am alive, I have a life, and I can do with it as I choose. [P] The TRUTH is that if I am in Christ then I have died. I am not talking about something mystical, symbolic, theological theory, philosophical and metaphysical – it is the truth! Jesus died – FACT – therefore I died. I am “In Christ” – Watchman Nee illustration of money in book. What happened to Christ happened to you. He died – you died. He rose again – you have His resurrection life. He ascended – you are seated with Him in heavenly places. [Romans 6:11 Even so reckon (λογιζομαι) yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.] It says “reckon yourselves dead” – how do you do that! Do you say “I am dead! I am dead!” – try and convince yourself. We all know the “facts” – I am alive! How do you reckon yourself dead?! What is this “reckoning” business? I don’t usually trouble you with Greek, we speak English after all said and done! Indulge me this once! The word “reckon” or “consider” is a word “λογιζομαι”. [P] John did these pictures for me when I did a series on Romans – log [P], not wood but more like a ships log [P], in it is entered the events of the voyage [P], record of facts, authoritative and official (related to the word “λογος” authoritative word), it was actually an accounting term [P] – the record of what you have or owe. It is written down, that’s what you have. That’s the situation. If you reckon yourself dead you are recording the true situation. This is what Watchman Nee says about it: “What does reckoning mean? I assure you it is not a form of make-believe! The Greek word “reckoning” means doing accounts, book-keeping. Accounting is the one thing in the world we humans can do correctly. Can an artist paint a landscape with photographic accuracy? Can a historian vouch for the absolute correctness of any record, or the map-maker for the perfect precision of any map? They can make, at best, fair approximations. What then can a man do that is utterly reliable? Arithmetic! There is no scope for error there. One chair plus one chair equals two chairs. That is true in London or Capt Town, New York or Singapore. All the world over and for all time, one plus one equals two. Can God’s affirmations be any less true? Could He conceivably ask me to put down something false in my account book? Of course not! If then He tells us to reckon ourselves dead to sin, it is simply because, in Christ, our death to sin is a fact, one eternally to be relied on.” Reckoning is coming to terms with the truth! Acknowledging the truth [P]. The truth of Scripture records the true situation – not something we try to do, try to die to ourselves, it is facing the truth of what has already happened, what is the real situation. [P] [Romans 6:11 Even so reckon (λογιζομαι) yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.] The truth is Jesus died – therefore I died! [2 Corinthians 5:14-15 having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.] Let’s have a look at the TRUTH – the real situation, what Scripture says is the case: [P] [Galatians 2:19-20 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; (it has happened, already taken place – a death has taken place and so has the resurrection) and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.] The death and resurrection of Jesus is not just a historical event that we believe took place, we walk by faith, we rely upon it. It is not just 2000 years ago – it is my own death and resurrection. Jesus died, I died; Jesus rose again, His life is the life I now live! [2 Timothy 2:11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him] We have died and we have been raised to newness of life – if any man be in Christ he is a new creation! The old has gone the new has come! [Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.] [Colossians 2:20-21 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world (it has happened in the past, and there is a consequence), why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”] [Galatians 5:24-25 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.] [Galatians 6:14-15 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.] Having died, we are then raised with Christ, and ascended with Him, seated with Him in heavenly places: [Colossians 3:1-4  Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.] You are dead – is not good news to many people – but it is wonderfully liberating. If you truly appreciated how rotten your life is you wouldn’t cling to it, you’d be glad that it has been executed. Death is the only way to get victory over sin. Dead alcoholic is not tempted by a whiskey bottle. Do you want victory over sin? The only way is through death! Reckon yourself dead, live by the truth, not the “facts” that seem so real. Through death and resurrection we are free from sin and live for righteousness [1 Peter 2:24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness;] Paul explains this fully in [P] [Romans 6:1-14 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts (that is living by the insistent “facts”, not the truth), and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.]

Conclusion Easter is the time that we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection. Let it not just be a historical fact 2000 years ago but a present reality. Let us the face the facts. [P] Jesus died for our sins according to the Scripture, He was buried and He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures. The “facts” may seem to be that we still live – but those on that Easter morning so long ago thought they knew the facts, that Jesus was dead – but the truth is otherwise. [P] Let us reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ. The truth is that we have been crucified with Christ [P] that is the truth, let’s walk in the truth and not live a lie - we no longer live for ourselves, now Christ is the One who lives in us. [P] Let us live by faith in the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.

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