Summary: Two point sermon to show how unbelieving leadership in the church fails to live up to the gospel call and the results of believing that He is Risen!
A Sermon on ResuReduction
My text for today is from 1 Cor 15:14
“…if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.”
Text Illustration: HE'S NO LONGER IN THE GRAVE.
In 1887, twenty two years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, his coffin was dug up and opened because there were constant rumors that his body was not in the grave. So they dug it up and the body was there. The rumors continued, so 14 years later they had to dig it up again!
Both times witnesses were present who testified that Lincoln was still in the grave.
Three days after the death of Jesus Christ, similar rumors began to spread throughout the land of Israel. Only this time there were no witnesses who could say that they had seen His body.
In fact, to the contrary, many witnesses claimed to have seen him out of His grave and even talked with Him after the resurrection. (So they saw His body but it was alive!)
As great a man as Lincoln was, there were witnesses to prove he was still in the grave. If one of…. the leaders in our government were to cry out today to Lincoln or NZ Prime Ministers, Keith Holyoake, Michael Joseph Savage or Robert Muldoon for help, there would be no response. If a scientist were to cry out to Einstein for help today there would only be empty silence. If someone were to call out to any other name religious or philosophical leader Mohammed or Buddha or Gandhi today there would be no help.
But if you and I call out to Jesus Christ there is instant power available to us... power to change lives ...why? Because He lives! (1)
What difference does Jesus’ resurrection make? Does it really matter?
If Jesus did not arise from the dead, the Christian faith is meaningless.
It’s all in vain. An interesting social experiment maybe, but all meaningless words.
Live in any society, live among any people and you will soon discover what makes them tick. They are directed, guided by social, political and religious influences.
So what is the motor that drives us?
Our way of life was based on Christian spirituality, philosophy and morality until fairly recently.
We now live in a ‘post cross’ society. A Post-Christian belief system has taken over. What has it taken over? It has taken over the thinking of most people in NZ!
While we were discussing post modernism, during the 1980’s-90’s, I think it was, post-modernists were teaching our own Christian children (or at least children from Christian homes) how to think without reference to God, Truth, Justice, Beauty or absolute standards of any kind.
When we were debating, wrestling with Church Union in the 1970’s, and 80’s they were teaching humanism from the pulpits, the university lecture theatres and all over the newspapers, TV and Radio. Meanwhile the Charismatic Movement and Pentecostal Churches were being established.
The history of how we came to be where we are, and the story of the cross in NZ was relegated to antiquity.
What education was doing was telling our kids: “You don’t need to know this stuff because it’s out of fashion; it’s not true and we are now creating our own futures by ourselves.”
Yes it became ‘A Brave New World’, which Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932.
The religious leaders of the day in NZ, such as Principal Lloyd Geering of the Presbyterian Church, was not alone in the 1960s. Oh No! Prof. John A.T. Robinson in the UK was all out telling theological students, pastors, preachers and leaders of the land and all its’ inhabitants: “God is dead!”
The message was not ‘Don’t believe in God’ but ‘The traditional God does not exist!’ Thousands of ministers have grown up with this as their thinking! And we wonder why the church stopped growing?
The old heresies, human based thinking had come to full fruition.*2.*
It was thought progressive to preach ‘God is dead.’ We could (and I am sure some did) ask, ‘But when did God die exactly? Was there a funeral? Where is His body?’
“Recently, Billy Graham responded to someone who shouted out ‘God is dead! God is dead!’ Dr. Graham with tenderness replied, ‘That's strange because I just talked to Him in prayer a few minutes ago.’” *3*
Well, as Dr. Phil always asks, “How is that working for you?”
How is this new teaching working for NZ?
Has the belief that resurrection cannot happen and, what follows from it, that humans are the ‘measure of all things’ worked to our advantage?
Has it worked for you?
Are you more hopeful because the cross and resurrection is no longer taught at school or at Uni?
That is, it’s no longer the treasured message in our society; the message we once owned and loved is it? We once had moral standards that derived from the Christian gospel.