Sermons

Summary: Faith in the risen Lord awakens dead hope.

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Title: Dead Hope

Series: Waking the Dead

Text: John 20:1-18

Truth: Faith in the risen Lord awakens dead hope.

Aim: To help me live in the joy of the Lord rather than despair.

Life ?: How does faith in the risen Lord change me?

INTRODUCTION

Residents of a town in Thailand flocked to the home of a bereaved mother to touch and see a 5-foot monitor lizard she says is a reincarnation of her 13-year-old son and a symbol of good fortune. Chamlong Taengniem, whose son Charoen died in a motorcycle crash, told Reuters that the lizard followed her home after her son’s cremation, slept on his mattress in the house, and loves her son’s favorite beverage—fresh milk and yogurt. The mother, 51, says that her son turned into the lizard and she and her neighbors say that the creature had not been previously seen in the area (HoustonChronicle.com, www.chron.com, 6/29/01).

I’m assuming that a huge majority of us do not believe that story. As Christians we categorically reject reincarnation. The story is simply too fantastic. It goes beyond the boundaries of truth and reality. The Thai culture is a superstitious culture, and besides there are plenty of other legitimate explanations for this strange occurrence. Just ask any child that has had a cat or dog follow them home.

For some people our story of the literal resurrection of Jesus is as unbelievable as the mother that believes her son became a lizard. One of those persons was Dr. Frank Morrison. Frank was not the kind of person you would find in church on Sunday morning. Chances are he wouldn’t even come on a Christmas or Easter service, but you couldn’t help but respect the man. He was a well-educated Englishman.

By profession he was a lawyer. By philosophy he was a skeptic. In his own words he was moved by “irresistible logic and facts.” He was not persuaded by Christian traditions. Morrison’s thinking was shaped by German theologians who were critical of the Bible and Charles Darwin’s champion debater and opponent of the Christian faith, Sir Thomas Huxley. Morrison did not believe in miracles. When it came to the historic teaching of the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, he totally denied its reality.

A friend challenged his bias against the resurrection and he decided to take on the task of using his considerable intellect and skill as a lawyer to investigate and disprove the resurrection. It drastically changed his life.

He chose to study the resurrection from an intellectual point of view. He would use the documents of scripture, history, and archaeology, and let the chips fall where they may. This honest inquiry into the facts of the resurrection resulted in the disbeliever becoming a believer. He put his discoveries into a book titled Who Moved the Stone. He originally set out to write one kind of book but the sheer weight of the evidence led him to write an entirely different book. Dr. Morrison said he could not write the first book, the one denying the reality of the resurrection, even if he wanted to because of the stubborn facts.


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