Faithlife Sermons

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Today is a celebration.
It is a celebration of life, of triumph, and of victory.
The age in which we live in, with all the constant news cycles, the economic problems, political tensions, and the evils we see on a daily basis, can seem bleak.
The world is troubled.
Sometimes it can be difficult to see hope when times are bleak.
Where does the world turn when all hope seems to fade?
The crucifixion of Jesus was a dark day in history.
The God who took on flesh, born in a manger thirty-three years prior was put to death unjustly by his own people.
Jesus, the Son of God, breathed his last.
This death was tragic but necessary.
For the wages, the payment of sin, is death.
So if not I, then who? Jesus came to pay the price, to purchase our pardon so we may stand before the Father spotless.
But we know that this is not the end of the story.
We celebrate Easter because it is resurrection day.
We celebrate because it is the day Jesus walked out of his grave.
Dead men don’t walk anywhere.
But Jesus was not found at the tomb that day.
Why do you seek the living One among the dead?
He is not here, but He has risen.
The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest news the world has ever heard.
The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest hope for a troubled world.
Because Jesus is risen from the dead, he is the only hope for a troubled world.
The gospel records tell us that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb.
Peter and John raced toward the tomb to check it out for themselves.
The New Testament records about a dozen post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, including one in which he appears before 500 people at one time.
The people could see him and touch him.
They could talk to him and eat with him.
Thomas was invited to put his hand in the scars on his wrists and touch the place where the spear pierced his side.
Everyone was convinced they were experiencing the real Jesus.
As soon as the day of Pentecost came and the Holy Spirit came upon all the believers in the upper room in Jerusalem, the preaching of the apostles focused on the resurrection of Jesus.
They considered it the most important part of their preaching.
This is evident by their speaking of it all the time.
The resurrection of Jesus became the focal point of the gospel message because it is the central doctrine of our faith.
The resurrection of Jesus is the central doctrine of our faith.
Without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith means nothing.
There is no forgiveness of sin.
Without forgiveness of sin, there is no salvation.
Are you following the logic here?
A false teaching had crept into the church in Corinth.
There were some claiming there is no such thing as the resurrection from the dead.
If that was true, Paul is saying, then Christ is not risen from the dead.
And if Christ is not risen from the dead, then Paul says our preaching is vain, that is, empty, worthless, void of any intellectual, moral, or spiritual value.
Then he says the same is true of our faith.
The outcome is that anyone who preaches the resurrection of Jesus preaches a false gospel.
They are false witnesses of God.
The Jews were right in that Christians are heretics if there is no resurrection of the dead.
If the resurrection of Jesus is not true, something else happened to his body on that Sunday morning.
Verse 17 says if that is true, our faith is worthless and we are still in our sins and so is everyone who died believing in Jesus.
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
If Jesus is not risen, he lied and we are the greatest fools on earth.
BUT the empty tomb, the post-resurrection appearances, the emphasis on resurrection in apostolic preaching, the fact that all of the apostles died believing that Jesus rose from the dead, and the lack of better explanation all add to the credibility of the resurrection story.
The resurrection of Jesus is real and because it is, we are not the greatest fools on earth.
Rather, we have the greatest hope on earth.
The resurrection of Jesus is our only hope.
The Jews were given the feast of first fruits to observe every year.
This feast took place in the spring and required the Israelites to present the first fruits to ripen in their fields as a sacrifice.
By offering their first fruits, they were expressing their dependency on God and trusting that what was given was a sign of things to come.
Perhaps you understand a bit better than most the importance of a good crop.
While it seems like most people out here are invested in livestock rather than producing crops, we can still understand the importance of a healthy and bountiful harvest.
Some produce take a long time to grow.
Farming requires months of labor in the hopes that it will produce enough quality crop for you, your family, and to sell to the community.
Now imagine that the crop was bad last year.
Things just didn’t turn out the way you wanted.
Imagine the temptation when you see what looks like a more abundant crop beginning to ripen.
What do you do?
Do you choose not to honor God with what He has given you out of fear of repeating last year, or do you give to Him what He asks, trusting that He will provide for your needs?
When Paul is describing Jesus as the first fruits of those who are asleep, first he is using a euphemism for those who are dead.
He’s speaking of those who died with faith in Christ.
Second, the idea of first fruits means that Just as Jesus is the first to come out of the ground alive, he is a sign of things to come.
When the first fruit on the vine is vibrant, juicy, and full of flavor, you can conclude that the rest will be good as well.
The same applies in the resurrection.
Because Christ is raised, we can conclude that those who died in faith will be raised to life as well.
So the resurrection of Jesus offers us hope that there is a real, bodily existence beyond the grave.
secondly, 1 Thess 4:13-18 tells us that it is those who have died in faith who will experience resurrection first.
So it is those who have died in the faith that will rise first at the coming of the Lord and then those who are still alive will be gathered with them in the air to meet our Savior.
The resurrection of Jesus points to the resurrection of everyone who has passed believing in Him.
He is the first fruits of the resurrection to come and the resurrection to come is a resurrection to perfect immortality.
Again, we see the euphemism of sleep meaning death.
At the last trumpet, when Christ returns, that which is perishable will put on the imperishable.
The mortal will put on immortality.
We will not be raised to endure sickness and death once again.
Instead, we will declare victory over death itself.
Hospitals and pharmacies will have to close because there won’t be anyone with any kidney disease, cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
There won’t be anybody battling obesity, dementia, bone diseases, blood disorders, or respiratory issues.
Best of all, the presence of sin will be totally eradicated.
We will shout and proclaim, “Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin.
No sin, no death!
The final verse encourages us to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Because the resurrection is true, there is a blessed hope for this troubled world.
Know that you who work for the Lord have not done so in vain.
Your work will be rewarded.
Keep living out biblical principles in your family, in your marriage, with your kids, your grand kids, your co-workers, with your neighbors, or any other relationship you might have.
Know the truth.
Equip yourself with the knowledge of scripture.
Be grounded in what the Bible says so you won’t be carried away by false claims like some of the Corinthians were who didn’t believe in resurrection.
Speak the truth.
Whenever the Lord gives you opportunity, share the truth of scripture with others.
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