Summary: Easter Sunday message
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Pastor Brian Matherlee
Tell at the beginning of service:
The young mom was driving her 3-year-old child to church early on Easter morning. As she drove she told the Easter story. “This is the day we celebrate Jesus coming back to life.” From the back seat she heard, “Will He be in church today?”
“Life is Beautiful” is a film about a little boy with a father who made life in a Nazi concentration camp livable. His father is an exceedingly joyful individual who is madly in love with his wife and his little boy. He shields his son from as much of the horror of the concentration camp as he can by making up a crazy game.
At the end of the movie the boy survives and as an adult reflects upon the time in the camp and the joy brought into his life because of his father and says, “This is the sacrifice my father made for me”. That sacrifice made life joyful in the midst of despair.
Christ’s sacrifice has brought joy to lives in despair. What joy there is to be found in the death and resurrection of Jesus! Don’t we want to know all we can about this truth? The apostle Paul did.
Paul came to the place of faith in Jesus Christ through a personal experience with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. And he was never the same. His lifelong pursuit is expressed in our key verses.
Key verses: “I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11
I read this and have questions:
1. What does it mean to know Christ?
a. Christ in daily life
i. Knowing his will, knowing his voice, knowing him in experience.
ii. Abiding by his directives
• A Muslim in Africa became a Christian and some of his friends asked him, “Why have you done such a thing?” He answered, “Well, its like this: Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions. You didn’t know which way to go; and there at the fork were two men—one dead, and one alive—which one would you ask to show you the way?”
b. What had Paul known before Christ? In the preceding verses Paul tells us the things in his life before knowing Christ he hoped would make him “right” before God:
• He was one of God’s people. The chosen ones, Abraham’s race. Of course he would go to heaven!
• Someone has said that there are no spiritual grandchildren. We must come to know Christ personally.
ii. He had known Morality—a Pharisee
• Paul would say, “I’m a good person”. But he could go beyond all that and point out that he followed every law…to the letter of the law. He says that he was faultless in regard to “legalistic righteousness.”
• Most people believe this. They truly believe that goodness will assure them entrance into heaven. They base it on several faulty suppositions:
a. Compared to everyone else I’m not so bad.
b. Holiness and righteousness are only ideals to be pursued and not tangible experiences in the lives of ordinary people.
c. Mental assent that there is a God and Jesus Christ is the Son of God is the same as being a Christian.
iii. He had known Sincerity & Zeal—persecuted the church
• Nobody believed more fervently in their religion and cause than Saul of Tarsus. He was the poster child for Grand Inquisitors.
• People all over the world are intensely passionate and dedicated to their beliefs. They are sincere and, as the saying goes, they can be sincerely wrong.
2. What is the power of his resurrection
a. That sin is atoned for.
i. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”
b. That guilt is gone—I love the truth expressed in the hymn “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, “He breaks the power of cancelled sin”.
c. That people will be different!
i. There was an item printed in Newsweek magazine a few years ago. It was a letter from
the Greenville County, South Carolina, Department of Social Services. The letter was written to a dead person. It said: "To whom it may concern: Your food stamps will be stopped effective immediately, because we have received notice that you passed away. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances."
ii. C. S. Lewis wrote: “Jesus did not come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people live!”