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Summary: This Easter message is an opportunity to present the gospel by asking the question concerning what is your "empty" the Easter -- an empty heart, an empty cross, or an empty tomb.

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WHAT IS YOUR EMPTY THIS EASTER?

OPENING ILLUSTRATION: AFTER THE SERVICE, WHEN WE GET HOME, WE WILL EVENTUALLY HAVE AN EASTER EGG HUT FOR MY GRANDSON. NOW, PREVIOUS TO THIS EVENT, I TOOK GREAT JOY IN HIDING THE EASTER BASKETS FOR OUR KIDS. I HAD A SIMPLE RULE; AS THEY GOT OLDER THE HIDING PLACES GOT HARDER! THIS WOULD GO ON UNTIL THEIR 18TH BIRTHDAY. AT THAT POINT, IF THEY WANTED AN EASTER BASKET, THEY COULD HIDE IT THEMSELVES AND LOOK SURPRISED WHEN THEY FOUND IT.

NOW, WITH MY GRANDSON, IT IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT. WE ARE HAVING A HUNT! NOT A DEER HUNT OR A DUCK HUNT, OR A BEAR HUNT. WE ARE HAVING AN EGG HUNT. KELSEY IS SETTING THIS UP, YET IN REALITY, IN THE MIND OF OUR GRANDSON, AND EASTER EGG HUNT REDUCES DOWN TO THIS:

1. FIND THE EGG

2. OPEN THE EGG

3. EMPTY THE EGG

4. FORGET THE EGG

5. REPEAT UNTIL THERE ARE NO MORE EGGS.

THE END RESULT IS A HYPER CHILD AND A YARD FULL OF EMPTY EGGS

INTRODUCTION: THIS BRINGS ME TO THE THOUGHT OF WHAT IS YOUR EMPTY THIS EASTER? FOR DAVID IT WILL BE EMPTY EGGS.

PROPOSITION: WE ALL HAVE AN EMPTY THIS EASTER, WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE THE RIGHT EMPTY THIS EASTER!

TRANSITION: IN OUR TIME THIS MORNING, I WOULD LIKE US TO DISCOVER OUR EMPTY, DETERMINE IF WE HAVE THE RIGHT EMPTY, AND FINALLY DECIDE TO CHANGE OUR EMPTY!

BUT BEFORE WE GET STARTED, I WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS EASTER WHY I BELIEVE THAT THIS BOOK IS TRUE. WHY YOU CAN HAVE FAITH THAT WHAT THIS BOOK SAYS IT MEANS AND THAT IT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE! WHAT FOLLOWS IS THE WORK OF WHITNEY T. KUNIHOLM, THE PRESIDENT OF SCRIPTURE UNION.

MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE.

THERE ARE WAY MORE COPIES OF THE BIBLICAL MANUSCRIPTS, WITH REMARKABLE CONSISTENCY BETWEEN THEM, THAN THERE ARE FOR ANY OF THE CLASSICS LIKE PLATO, ARISTOTLE AND SOCRATES. "THERE IS NO BODY OF ANCIENT LITERATURE IN THE WORLD WHICH ENJOYS SUCH A WEALTH OF GOOD TEXTUAL ATTESTATION AS THE NEW TESTAMENT." F.F. BRUCE, THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS: ARE THEY RELIABLE?

ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE.

AGAIN AND AGAIN ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES HAVE VERIFIED THE ACCURACY OF THE HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL REFERENCES IN THE BIBLE. THE MORE THEY DIG, THE MORE IT CONFIRMS THE BIBLE. “IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT NEAR EASTERN ARCHAEOLOGY HAS DEMONSTRATED THE HISTORICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL RELIABILITY OF THE BIBLE IN MANY IMPORTANT AREAS.” E.M. BLAIKLOCK, THE NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY.

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS.

THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN BY PEOPLE WHO WITNESSED THE EVENTS IT DESCRIBES; MANY WERE PERSECUTED OR MARTYRED BUT NEVER CHANGED THEIR STORY. WOULD YOU DIE FOR SOMETHING YOU KNEW WAS UNTRUE? “IT IS NO MODERATE APPROBATION OF SCRIPTURE THAT IT HAS BEEN SEALED BY THE BLOOD OF SO MANY WITNESSES, ESPECIALLY WHEN WE REFLECT THAT THEY DIED TO RENDER TESTIMONY TO THE FAITH …WITH A FIRM AND CONSTANT, YET SOBER, ZEAL TOWARD GOD.” JOHN CALVIN, INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.

CORROBORATING ACCOUNTS.

THERE ARE PLENTY OF REFERENCES IN NON-BIBLICAL SOURCES TO THE EVENTS DESCRIBED IN THE BIBLE. THE JEWISH HISTORIAN JOSEPHUS, BORN IN 37 AD, “PROVIDE(S) INDISPENSABLE BACKGROUND MATERIAL FOR THE STUDENT OF…NEW TESTAMENT HISTORY. IN THEM, WE MEET MANY FIGURES WELL KNOWN TO US FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT. SOME OF HIS WRITINGS PROVIDE DIRECT COMMENTARY ON NEW TESTAMENT REFERENCES.” J.D. DOUGLAS, ED., THE NEW BIBLE DICTIONARY.

LITERARY CONSISTENCY.

THE BIBLE CONTAINS 66 BOOKS WRITTEN OVER 1,500 YEARS BY 40 DIFFERENT WRITERS BUT IT TELLS ONE "BIG STORY" OF GOD'S PLAN OF SALVATION THAT CULMINATED IN JESUS CHRIST. YOU CAN'T EVEN PASS A SECRET AROUND A CIRCLE OF 12 PEOPLE AND GET THE SAME MESSAGE AT THE END. “THERE IS INDEED A WIDE VARIETY OF HUMAN AUTHORS AND THEMES (IN THE BIBLE). YET BEHIND THESE…THERE LIES A SINGLE DIVINE AUTHOR WITH A SINGLE UNIFYING THEME.” JOHN R.W. STOTT, UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE.

PROPHETIC CONSISTENCY.

THERE ARE OVER 300 SPECIFIC PROPHECIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THAT ARE FULFILLED IN THE LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. “THE VERY DIMENSION OF THE SHEER FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES SHOULD BE ENOUGH TO CONVINCE ANYONE THAT WE ARE DEALING WITH A SUPERNATURAL PIECE OF LITERATURE….GOD HAS HIMSELF PLANTED WITHIN THE SCRIPTURES AN INTERNAL CONSISTENCY THAT BEARS WITNESS THAT THIS IS HIS WORD.” R.C. SPROUL, NOW THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION.

EXPERT SCRUTINY.

THE EARLY CHURCH HAD EXTREMELY HIGH STANDARDS FOR WHAT BOOKS WERE JUDGED TO BE AUTHENTIC AND THEREFORE INCLUDED IN THE BIBLE. A BOOK HAD TO HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY AN APOSTLE OR SOMEONE IN THEIR IMMEDIATE CIRCLE, HAD TO CONFORM TO BASIC CHRISTIAN FAITH AND HAD TO BE IN WIDESPREAD USE AMONG MANY CHURCHES. THIS WAS A CAREFUL PROCESS OF “THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN MANY DIFFERENT PLACES, COMING TO RECOGNIZE WHAT OTHER BELIEVERS ELSEWHERE FOUND TO BE TRUE”; THESE WRITINGS WERE TRULY GOD’S WORD. G.J. WENHAM, J.A. MOTYER, D.A. CARSON AND R.T. FRANCE, THE NEW BIBLE COMMENTARY.

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