Sermon for Sunday April 4th, 2010

 


The Importance of Easter by Gerald Flury

1 Corinthians 15:12-15:19

The Importance of Easter
1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-19

Introduction: No other holiday is as critical to the Christian faith as Easter. The very foundation of Christianity stands or crumbles on the truthfulness of the assertion that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Easter is not about religious ritual or tradition. It is about the resurrection of the Son of God, an historical event. It significant because of what the resurrection of Jesus validates.

I. The resurrection of Christ validates Scripture.
A. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
B. Fulfilled prophecy is solid evidence of God’s existence and of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. There are hundreds of prophecies which predicted and predict future events. The fulfillment of the predictions is not a result of coincidence or chance.
C. Every aspect of the Easter story from the triumphal entry to the resurrection were foretold by the Old Testament prophets:
1. Triumphal Entry – Zechariah 9:9
2. Betrayal for 30 pieces of silver which would be given to potter’s field – Zechariah 11:12
3. The scourging and smiting – Isaiah 53:5
4. Crucified with Criminals – Isaiah 53:12
5. The Piercing – Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 22:16
6. No bones broken – Psalm 34:20
7. Buried with the rich – Isaiah 53:9
8. Raised from the dead
• Psalm 16:10-11 “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”
• Psalm 49:15 “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah”
D. God authenticated the authority of the Word by fulfilling the promise of a risen Savior.

II. The resurrection of Christ validates the claims of Christ
A. C. S. Lewis wrote: “Among the Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.” - C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan Co., 1943), pp. 54-55.
B. Jesus called this God his Father. He claimed that he himself was the only path to knowing this God and to eternal life. He claimed to have authority to forgive sins. He claimed to be the Messiah.
C. "Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable." - John Duncan
D. According to the New Testament accounts, Jesus, during His ministry, often predicted that He would be raised from the dead (see John 10:17; Luke 9:22, 11:29,30, 16:31, 18:33; Mark 8:31, 9:9, 9:31, 10:34, 14:28; Matt. 16:4, 16:21, 17:9, 17:23, 20:19, 26:32, 27:63).
E. Matthew 28:6 “"He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come; see the place where the Lord lay.”
F. Romans 1:1-4 “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”
G. His resurrection from the dead was his ultimate credential, validating his claims. He is the Son of God who came to earth as the sacrifice for our sins, and those who accept him by grace through faith will have eternal life.

III. The resurrection of Christ validates the plan of redemption
A. 1 Corinthians 15:17 "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins."
B. Christ’s resurrection validates and puts God’s seal of approval on everything Jesus did when on the Cross. Christ’s Resurrection means that God the Father accepted His Son’s vicarious sacrifice for our sin.
C. Romans 4:23-5:2 “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
D. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on account of our justification. It proved that Christ was a worthy sacrifice to secure our salvation.
E. Jesus Christ is RISEN. HE LIVES! Because He lives, I am forgiven. He is the spotless Lamb of God who conquered sin and death. His blood has covered my sin and I am justified.
F. Some of us stay at the cross, some of us wait at the tomb,
Quickened and raised with Christ yet lingering still in the gloom.
Some of us 'bide at the Passover feast with Pentecost all unknown,
The triumphs of grace in the heavenly place
that our Lord has made His own
If the Christ who died had stopped at the cross,
His work had been incomplete.
If the Christ who was buried had stayed in the tomb,
He had only known defeat,
But the way of the cross never stops at the cross
and the way of the tomb leads on
To victorious grace in the heavenly place
where the risen Lord has gone – Annie Johnson Flint
G. The resurrection is God’s "Amen!" to Christ’s statement, "It is finished." Jesus died and rose again!! He beat death. He is the Savior of all who place their faith and trust in Him.

IV. The resurrection of Christ validates our future resurrection.
A. 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
B. Job asked, “If a man dies, shall he live again?
C. There are those who say, “Life after death is a myth, he claimed, and no one goes to heaven or hell after death; that there is no life beyond the grave.” For those who have no hope beyond this life, death has to be a grueling terrifying, experience. Yet, the resurrection of Jesus is proof positive life exists beyond the grave.
D. John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
E. The following Illustration comes from the Kansas City Star.Com
• DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: How can we know if there is life after death? I’d like to think there is but I don’t see any scientific reason to believe in it. Once a person is dead, that’s the end of everything, in my view. Or am I overlooking something? — H.J.J.
• DEAR H.J.J.: Tomorrow, millions of Christians around the world will celebrate Easter, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When they took him down from the cross and sealed him in a stone tomb, Jesus was truly dead, a fact even his enemies did not dispute. But on the third day after his death, the tomb was empty, and the words of the angels who appeared outside that tomb ring across the centuries: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:5-6). Later he appeared to hundreds of witnesses, proving beyond all doubt that he was alive.
And this is how we know there is life beyond the grave. Jesus Christ has torn down the wall. Death has been destroyed. He has shown us that this life is not all, but beyond us is eternity, either in heaven with him forever or in that place the Bible calls hell, separated from him forever. We were meant to live with God forever, and because of Christ’s death and resurrection for us, we know we can.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). Don’t live in doubt and hopelessness any longer, but turn to Jesus Christ and put your life — and your eternal destiny — into his hands, both today and forever. –http://www.kansascity.com/2010/04/02/1853380/ billy-graham-jesus-resurrection.html#ixzz0k39XRs8W
F. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
G. Christ’s resurrection assures that all men will be raised some to eternal life others to judgment.
H. Acts 17:31 "because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."