Easter’s Life Changing Message
1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Next week, many will be celebrating what is known as Easter, which is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not about a bunny and lays eggs.
Easter, that is, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the greatest event of all time. It is the most powerful event in human history. It is more powerful than volcanic eruptions, devastating earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, or a nuclear explosion all put together. In fact, it is more powerful than Superman.
And the reason I say this is because it is the resurrection of Jesus that caused history to split into two parts; B.C. and A.D. Now, that is what I call powerful. In fact, it is so powerful that it can change the direction and the course of all of our lives.
Now, some of you may have caught a discrepancy in what I just said, because B.C. and A.D. are divided by Jesus’s birth, not His resurrection. But, let me just bring forth this proposition, and that is, if it wasn’t for the resurrection, there would be no reason to record Jesus’s birth. In fact, if it wasn’t for the resurrection, there would be no need to celebrate Christmas, or for any of us to come on Sunday morning to worship Him.
Now, in our society, most people ask, “So what?” What difference does Easter make and how does it apply to me? So, what if Jesus is alive? What’s the big deal? How can something that happened 2000 years ago have any bearing on my life today?
This was the same basic question they were asking in the city Corinth back in the Apostle Paul’s day, and it’s something that needs to be answered in our day as well. How important is the resurrection?
“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, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up--if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19 NKJV)
Paul begins by telling them that Jesus’s resurrection is what holds the whole basis of our faith together; that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then all that we believe and hold onto, is empty and useless.
Further, if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then Paul and all the other believers were nothing but a pack of liars, and that humanity remains condemned because of sin, and that all those who have died have done so in their sin and are therefore eternally lost. But he doesn’t stop there saying that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then all those who believe should be pitied, because their whole life and belief structure is a complete waste of time.
But the good news is that Paul doesn’t leave them or us hanging.
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV)
The resurrection is a proven historical fact, and it is a matter of public record. You might say that it was headline news. And yet, over 80% of people who say that believe in the resurrection don’t go church, and I believe it’s because they just don’t get it, that is, they don’t get why it is that important.
So what difference does Easter make? What difference to the resurrection make? Because of Easter, because Jesus rose from the dead …
1. Our Sins Are Forgiven
I don’t think there’s a person alive that doesn’t want a do-over. You know, where they can have a brand-new start in order to right all the dumb mistakes they’ve made.
All our failures, problems, bad decisions, and mistakes; along with all the stuff that has tortured us with painful memories, and which we believe we have to pay for the rest of our lives; Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is about having all of these things forgiven and done away with.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” (Colossians 2:13 NKJV)
It then goes on to say that Jesus has wiped them out, and taken them out of the way, nailing them to the cross (Colossians 2:14).
In JB Phillips translation of the New Testament, he translated it like this.
“He has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross.” (Colossians 2:13 Phillips)
Jesus paid the full penalty for our sins when He became that perfect sinless sacrifice upon the cross. And by His death He accomplished what God had planned from the very beginning saying, “It is finished.”
What Jesus meant by those words is that His task, His work and God’s purpose were completed and fulfilled. Therefore, when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, asking Him to be our Savior and Lord, we can have the same assurance the Apostle Paul had.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 NKJV)
This then brings me to the second difference Easter makes.
2. Our Lives Have Purpose
What was the Father’s purpose for Jesus’s death?
• ?Jesus said, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (John 12:47 NKJV)
• ?Paul said, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV)
• ?And again, Paul said, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NKJV)
It was the Father’s purpose to send Jesus so that through His death He would save all who would believe in Him. And because Jesus rose from the dead, our faith is not empty or useless, but alive and vital for eternal life.
Also, because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, just has He promised, which we’ll look at in a couple of minutes, we can have an abundant life right now.
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV)
Jesus came not only to forgive our sin and give us eternal life, which is more than any of us deserve, but He also wants to give us abundant life right now. He wants to give us a life full of meaning and purpose.
But this isn’t what society is trying to sell us. Society says that unless we have certain products, we’ll never be happy and productive.
• ?I mean, how did we ever get along without a Ronco salad shooter?
• ?Or how can we survive without the latest smart TV, smart phone, tablet, and computer.
• ?And how are supposed to make it through this life without Nike, or Under Armor clothing.
• ?And it wasn’t until I discovered clear and unscented deodorant that I really understood the meaning of life.
The reality is that most people aren’t really living, instead they are merely existing. They get up in the morning, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch some TV, or their computer, and then go to bed, only to repeat this scenario day in and day out.
Others take the King Solomon route, that is, finding their purpose through pleasure, prestige, and power. But what they don’t see is that in the end Solomon found it all useless and a complete waste of time.
But God created us for a purpose. He has a plan for our lives even before we were born.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)
That word, “workmanship,” or in other translations, “masterpiece,” means a work of art. What is being said is that each of us are God’s unique work of art. Therefore, God has a plan for our lives, one that He wants us to fulfill. The tragedy is that few have discovered it. But as we continue to grow together in the Lord we’ll learn of God’s unique design.
“But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.” (Acts 20:24 LB)
You see, while each of us have been uniquely designed by God, He has done so with His ultimate purpose in mind, and that is to bring the Good News to those He puts within our sphere of influence.
The question then becomes how can we accomplish this?
a. Through the Power of Christ
Consider the power of Christ who said, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (John 10:17-18 NKJV)
It was the resurrection that proved Jesus’s power, the power over death and the grave. The religious leaders of that day, those who today we’d label as skeptics, they mocked Jesus saying, “Hey, if you truly are the Son of God, come down off that cross.” They wanted Jesus to display this power.
But Jesus was going to do something greater and more powerful than what they could even imagined. He was going to let the Romans kill Him, and place Him in the tomb, but in three days He was going to show them what true power is really all about as He came back to life proving who He claimed to be.
Now, the really cool part is that this same power that raised Jesus from the grave is available to us.
“I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in heaven.” (Ephesians 1:19-20 LB)
So, not only do we have a purpose for our lives, but Jesus has given to us His incredible power to live it out through belief in Him.
• ?It is the power to change what we cannot, that is, our habits, hang ups, and hurts.
• ?It is the power to let go of guilt, grudges, and grief that keep us stuck in the past.
• ?And it is the power to forgive others and keeps us going when all we want to do is quit.
This is why we can say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
Now, along with the power of Christ, we also have His promises to help us live according to God’s purposes.
b. Through the Promises of Christ
Some of these incredible promises are
• ?“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
• ?“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:14 NKJV)
• ?“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” (Matthew 20:18-19 NKJV)
Easter proves that God keeps His promises, which is what Moses and the Apostle Paul tells us.
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19 NIV)
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV)
Jesus, in dealing with the most common malady known to humanity makes this promise.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24 NKJV)
Everyone is going to die, that’s a given, because no one will live this life forever. Yet, as common and well understood this fact is, no one really likes to discuss or talk about it, and that’s because it scares us to death.
But if I could say something without it coming across too harsh, only a fool would go through life totally unprepared for something they know is going to happen.
The writer of Hebrews says that it’s been appointed to everyone a time to die, and afterwards stand before God in judgment (Hebrews 9:27). So, here’s the question, do you know where you’ll spend eternity? And what do you base that decision upon? What promises?
This leads me to the last point, which is because of Jesus’s resurrection …
3. Our Future is Secure
If I were to take a survey and ask if people were sure they were going to heaven, the most common answer would be, “I hope so.” But forgive me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that something we should want to be 100 percent sure about?
Most people base their answers upon wrong information, wrong motives, and misunderstandings perpetrated by science, religion, and our materialistic culture.
• ?Some believe in Salvation by Sincerity: They say “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.” I once read of a pilot who built his own plane and sincerely thought it would fly. But He was sincerely wrong.
• ?Others believe in Salvation through Good Works: They believe that their good works will get them into God’s good graces and heaven. But the Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
• ?Then there is Salvation by Subtraction: They believe we’ll get to heaven by giving up stuff, like smoking, drinking, cussing, and a hundred other vices that people have. But the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25 NKJV)
• ?Some take the route of Salvation by Ritual: They join churches, say certain kinds of prayer, perform certain rituals. But as they say, sitting to church doesn’t make a person a Christian just like sitting in a chicken coop doesn’t make a person a chicken.
• ?Then there is Salvation by Heritage: They say they are a Christian because their parents are Christians. But John the Baptist confronts this sort of teaching saying, “Do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Matthew 3:9 NKJV)
• ?And finally, there are those who believe in Salvation by Comparison: They say, “At least I’m not Jim or Judy,” or “At least I haven’t killed someone.” But the Bible says, that it isn’t wise, but foolish, to compare ourselves to others (2 Corinthians 10:12).
Salvation and eternal life with God comes only through having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 NKJV)
“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 Peter 1:3 NKJV)
What we could say is that Salvation isn’t about what we know, rather it’s about Who we know.
A father took his son and seven of his friends to a carnival for his son’s birthday. He bought a roll of tickets and for each ride he gave a ticket to his son and his seven friends. On about the fifth ride another hand stuck itself out.
The father asked, “Who are you?”
And the boy replied, “I’m your son’s newest friend. He said that if I was his friend then his dad would give me a ticket as well.”
Now the father gave a ticket to his son, and his eight friends.
One day we’re all going to stand before God and He’s going to ask, “Who are you and why should I let you into heaven?”
Now we could answer, “Well I was sincere in my beliefs, I did a lot of good deeds, I gave up drinking, smoking, cussing, and all that stuff, I went to church and even got baptized in the process. And I’m not as bad as Jim and Judy, and since my parents are Christian don’t I get a free pass?”
And God will say, “Sorry no ticket.”
Or we could say, “I’m Your Son’s, Jesus’s, newest friend. I accepted Him as my Savior and Lord.”
And God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)
What difference does Easter make? Because Jesus died and rose from the dead, our sins are forgiven, we have a purpose to live out through the power and promises of Christ, and our eternal future is secured in heaven.
Easter’s life changing message is that we can have a brand new life and an eternity with God, and that’s because all of God’s promises are true.