Jesus Proves the Resurrection (Matthew Sermon 110 of 151)
January 10, 2010 | Andy Davis
Salvation, Death & Dying, Resurrection of Christ, Marriage and Parenting
It's not Easter Sunday. But we have celebrated the resurrection already in song and now we're going to celebrate the resurrection in the hearing of the word. What is the most significant moment in human history? New Zealand-based evangelist Ray Comfort puts it this way, I find found it very moving, “Unquestionably the greatest event was the faint sound of a heartbeat in a cold and lifeless body in a tomb 2,000 years ago. The sound of blood rushing through the heart of Jesus of Nazareth was a sound that will thunder throughout eternity, because of its incredible implications.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the most significant event in history, it changes everything. It changes everything for me.
And I know for all those of you that are my brothers and sisters in Christ, it's changed everything for you too. The reason why you live, the way you face trials, everything's different, because Jesus rose from the dead. And I would add a second truth that's like it and indispensable for us individually, and that is because I live you also will live. It's not enough just that Jesus has risen from the dead, but that we also will be raised from the dead through faith in Jesus Christ.
Introduction: Is Death the End?
Job’s Question… Everyone Asks
And so we come again to this significant question, it's right there for us in Job 14:14, and it's asked right there, “If a man dies will he live again?” It's a question that stands over every human heart, whether they admit it or not. Is this life all there is? And if you look all over the world there's a common thread in world societies and religions and that is some expectancy that this life is not all there is, that there is something beyond.
The pyramids of Egypt were a testimony to that, the Egyptians believed in the afterlife. Some time ago a vast Terracotta Army was found in China, made by the first emperor of China, hoping that that army would be there to help him rule his future land, after death. There was a coin placed in the mouth of all Greek-speaking people when they died back in the BC era, to help them pay the passage across the River Styx. Some plains Indians had the habit of burying a dead warrior with a pony and bow and arrows to help them hunt in the Happy Hunting Grounds. The Eskimos of Greenland, bury a guide dog to help the deceased make their way across the trackless waste into the future paradise.
So all over the world, it seems, people live out this truth that's found in Ecclesiastes 3:11, that God has “set eternity in the hearts of men.” And so that sense that somehow we should or will live forever in some state is there in the hearts of men. And yet for all of that, there are still people that question the afterlife, they question whether or not we really will exist after we have died.
Recently I was reading a website called Hypography, I do not in any way recommend it but I was reading it. And a young person named Kizzi wrote in this question, “Will my death be the end of my existence? And is there nothing I can do about it?” Oh, I'd love to talk to Kizzi, wouldn't you? Talk about an easy witnessing opportunity, “Well Kizzi, let me tell you about Jesus.” But this is an unbelieving website, and this was the answer the learned scholar gave to poor Kizzi,
“Unfortunately,” said the scholar, “all signs,” scientific signs that is, “seem to point in that direction, Kizzi, that death will in fact be the end of your existence. And I tend to agree. All I can do is give you my opinion regarding matters metaphysical. And as far as this matter is concerned, I'm of the opinion that death can be described as the failure of a body to metabolize. Once you're dead, you're dead. We don't want to believe it, though, because we don't want to waste our lives to die without anything to look forward to. But self deception can be a wonderful thing and at the same time very dangerous. Asking what lies in store for us after death is about as meaningful as asking what you remember from before your birth, with pretty much the same answer, I imagine. Before your birth you didn't exist, and after eventually death, well you won't exist either. So in short, you won't be around to worry about it. But never fear Kizzi. If you make full use of your potential, what you are, or what you can become, or what you want to be, you'll enjoy the ride while you have it. But remember to stop and smell the roses along the way because you'll never get the chance, again.”
That, dear friends, is the sound of being without hope and without God in the world. And we're here today utterly to repudiate that learned scholar's advice to Kizzi. Quentin Crisp, the English atheist and gay rights activist said, “The absolute nothingness of death is a blessing. It's something to look forward to.” Many have taught the same way.
Mark Twain, asked if he feared death, he said he did not, and due to the fact that he'd been dead for billions and billions of years before he was born and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it. Well again, very clever but it is appointed to each one of us to die once and after that to face judgment - there is an after that dear friends. This world is not all there is.
So for centuries, there have been skeptics who have doubted the existence of the afterlife, and who live for this life alone. The Sadducees in our texts are not the only ones. So imagine this encounter, this epic encounter between some clever, witty, debaters who deny the existence of the afterlife, and someone who claimed to be the afterlife, who claimed to be the resurrection. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Wouldn't you like to sit in on that debate? Well this morning you get to.
The Sadducees: Enemies of the Resurrection
You get to listen to Jesus take on the Sadducees who say there is no resurrection. So here they come, the Sadducees look at verse 23. “That same day the Sadducees who say there is no resurrection came to him with a question.”
Context: “That same day ...”
Well, what does it mean by “that same day”? Well this is all a part of the final week of Jesus's life we're studying in this section of Matthew's gospel. So last week of Jesus's life, Jesus's enemies are attacking him viciously trying to discredit him and eventually to murder him. His enemies opposed his triumphal entry. They opposed the children who were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” They demanded to see Jesus's credentials when he began teaching in the temple and when he cleansed the temple they wanted to see his credentials. And here in this chapter a series of challenges are gonna take him on one after the other.
We've already seen that first challenge last week with the disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians who asked him that question about taxation. Here we have the Sadducees coming to him on the issue of the resurrection. And soon we're going to see an expert in the law questioning him about the greatest commandment in the law. And the goal I think is all the same and that is to best Jesus in a debate and so in some way to bring Him down, to discredit him, ultimately to kill Him.
Who Were the Sadduccees?
So who were the Sadducees? Well, they were the smallest but by far the most influential of the Jewish sects of Jesus's time. You also had the Pharisees, the Essenes, and the Zealots. The Sadducees were aristocratic. They controlled the temple and its sacrificial system so all of the high priests and the chief priests were always Sadducees. They dominated the Sanhedrin. From that sacrificial system, they made their money and so they were fabulously wealthy, sinfully wealthy.
They were politically pro-Roman because it was only by the Roman permission that they maintained their position. And spiritually, they're an odd combination of extreme literalists, which we're gonna see in our text today. And what we would call modern-day liberals who denied basic clear doctrines taught in the Bible. Acts 23:8 says, “The Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits.” And so that's what the Sadducees were, they denied the existence of the invisible spiritual world, they seem to be materialists living for material prosperity, and for this life only.
Their “Unanswerable” Test Case: Seven Brothers, One Woman
And they bring to Jesus a test case, a fascinating test case, a ridiculous test case. Look at it in verses 24-28, “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now, there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven since all of them were married to her?”
Can Jesus Be Trapped? Can God Be Mocked?
So here again, we have some people who think they can trap Jesus, intellectually. They're gonna put Jesus in a box and they're going to best him in a debate. We covered that last week, it just can't be done. Jesus's thoughts are so infinitely high above ours, he cannot be bested.
Using the Law of Moses: Levirate Marriage
And they're coming using the scripture, the law of Moses, the so-called Levirate Marriage Law concerning the marriage of a woman to her deceased husband's brother, to carry on the family lineage. It's commanded in Deuteronomy 25 that this should happen, and they bring this test case.
Ridiculous Test Case… That Probably Never Happened
I mean, frankly just one brother is enough, because in their way of thinking, if there are two men claiming to be married to the same woman, that would be a problem. But they multiply it out. And so they've got instead seven brothers, imagine the mayhem in the afterlife. How in the world are they going to resolve this? It's ridiculous, it's so clearly ridiculous. I don't know if there actually were seven brothers among them, it could be like a little bit of a parable or something like that, a case study. It doesn't really matter. But they have this question, “Now then at the resurrection,” verse 28, “whose wife will she be of the seven since all of them were married to her?
They make two key assumptions. First of all, they assume that the next life will be very much like this life, almost perhaps exactly like this life, in most respects.
And secondly, they assume that it's really ridiculous or impossible for many men to be married to one woman. Polygamy is mentioned in the Bible but you're not going to see polyandry in the Bible, and so these two things just were their assumptions.
And their conclusion is then based on these two assumptions and this test case resurrection itself can't happen.
Have you ever talked, by the way, to a non-Christian that has just absolute proof that there's no God or some thing that Christianity isn't true, and it's just some simplistic thing, and they've got it worked out mathematically. Like, you know, I talked to one guy at MIT who said, you know, “God can't make a rock so big even he can't pick it up can he? And so he doesn't exist.” It's like if you want to cling to that the rest of your life and right on into judgment day when at last you meet him. And if you wanna ask him that question then go ahead, but it's amazing the simplicity of this way of thinking the Sadducees fall prey to. And so Jesus has to give them an answer concerning the resurrection.
Jesus’ Timeless Answer: I Am Abraham’s God… Now
Judging the Sadducees
But just as he did in the case of taxation, with the Pharisees and the Herodians he first wants to deal with them as people, just like he does with Nicodemus, Nicodemus comes talking about miracles Jesus goes right to, “You must be born again, Nicodemus. You want to go to heaven, you must be born again.” He goes right to the heart of the matter of the individual standing before him. Oh, how beautiful is that, and how much I want that heart in me. The individual I'm talking to is an eternal being. If you believe our texts today, they will exist forever, somewhere, heaven or hell, and so will you, each one of us will. And Jesus went to the heart of the matter here, their spiritual state.
Jesus is the judge of all the earth and he declares them in error. Look at verse 29, “You are in error,” he says. He has that right, he addresses here truth and error. And he always judges by the truth. And their error comes from two related forms of ignorance, there are two things they do not know.
Error Comes from Two Related Forms of Ignorance
He does more than just tell the Sadducees they're wrong, he tells them why they're wrong. What is the root of their error, “You're in error because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God. That's why you're in error.” The root cause is ignorance. It is sinful, willful ignorance, rejection of what they ought to have known. And he starts with this, you don't know the scriptures. “You do not know the scriptures,” he says. Which is really actually kind of remarkable because they are bringing a scriptural case, “Moses taught us that,” etc.
Is it not possible to be familiar with the scriptures and not to know the scriptures? We can be actually very familiar with the words of the Bible. But there's an infinite journey to be traveled from first acquaintance with the Bible to actually knowing it perfectly and completely as Jesus does. That's an infinite journey. And all of us are on it.
And Jesus is about to refer to one of the most familiar passages in the whole Old Testament, to prove the resurrection. And actually his argument is so deep that I'm certain they never thought about resurrection from the burning bush account.
There is always more to learn about the Bible. Amen. There's always more to learn. You should have a heart on a quest in Scripture, yearning to be fed, yearning to know more. Never stop learning the Bible, never stop feeding yourself, never stop delighting in its truth. There is this veil that comes between us and Scripture, that familiarity breeds contempt feeling, it's like, “I know this passage. I've heard this before; what more can God say to me from this? I already know this.”
People become familiar with the Bible, and they stop learning. And they stop growing. Oh let that never happen to you. If Jesus is the vine and you're merely the branches, you must remain connected to the vine and you do it through the scripture, through taking the Word of God in, to nourish your souls through the Bible. And I believe all error in the church comes from this root.
Every controversy and division that ever rent a church comes from this root that we don't know the scriptures, or the power of God. Disagreement and controversies over predestination come because we don't know the scriptures or the power of God. Disagreements and controversies over a woman's role in the church or in the home comes because we don't know the scriptures, or the power of God. Disagreements and controversies over divorce and remarriage come because we don't know the scriptures, or the power of God. Disagreements over baptism, over church polity, over anything that rends Christians apart comes because they don't know the scriptures, or the power of God. This is where we need to focus our efforts.
So, if we ever have a disagreement or a controversy in this church you know we ought to do? We ought to know the scriptures and the power of God, go there for it. The Bible is not lacking. He's given us everything we need for life and godliness, it is sufficient for this church. Amen. All we have to do is just go find the answers in there. And if we're looking and we just don't see it, we need to pray that God would take the veil from our eyes and enable us to do what he commands.
So he says, “You don't know the scriptures.” He also says to the Sadducees, “You don't know the power of God.” Now, power could mean the authority, the right to command we talked about that last time, God has the right to command, or it could refer to God's ability to do anything. That there's nothing that's impossible with God.
The Sadducees perhaps, probably, deny the resurrection because they couldn't visualize how it could be done. They didn't have any idea how God could actually pull it off. The body is destroyed completely by death, they might say, worms eat it, sea creatures consume it, fire burns it up, it's gone. It's entirely gone. How could God resurrect it then, it makes no sense.
The philosophers of Paul's day when he was there in Athens, they heard him discuss various things but there was one thing that really annoyed them, some of them anyway. And that's when he mentioned the resurrection of the dead. And it says in Acts 17:32, “When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered.” I hear that sneer in our culture today. The mocking that goes with this whole idea of resurrection. How can it be?
But they don't know the power of God. Amen. That God spoke into nothingness, when there was as yet nothing, and said, “Let there be a universe,” and there was. They don't understand the power of God that he took some clay and some dust of the earth and formed the first man out of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being. They don't know the power of God to do these things. God is not troubled concerning resurrection, he knows exactly what he's going to do. So let us not underestimate the power of God.
Revelation: The Future World Different Than the Present World
So Jesus deals with them as a shepherd of souls, he deals with them concerning their state, and then he starts to answer their question. And he does it in two ways: He gives them a revelation, as a prophet would. And then he expounds scripture, like a pastor-teacher should.
And he gives them a revelation. He says, “Now at the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Now this teaching is consistent with biblical themes and truths, but it's nowhere taught in the Old Testament. Jesus is giving them some insights about the future worlds.
Now, it makes sense, in this present world we were given bodies. We were created male and female, we were given reproductive organs, so that we could obey the command that God gave to male and female, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” That's this present world.
But in the next world, says Jesus, that will no longer be needed. Marriage as we understand it will not be needed in the next world. There'll be a set number of human souls, and that number will not increase, just as the number of angels has not increased from creation. And so the angels do not marry, further implications of that are beyond the scope of this sermon, you can speculate if you want. But Jesus just gives some insight here concerning angelic life and concerning future life in the new heavens and the new earth.
The Living Scripture: “What God Says to You”
But then he gets to the scriptures, and he says, “But about the resurrection of the dead,” verses 31 and 32, “Have you not read what God said to you? ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’”
Now what fascinates me about how Jesus introduces this scripture, is this statement, “Have you not read what God said to you?” Dear friends. God said it to you. And Hebrews 3 says that the Holy Spirit is saying it to you now. God said it back then with you in mind. And he's speaking it to you now by the Holy Spirit, again, directly with you in mind. The Scripture is for you, dear friends, and it's for me. And so God is speaking what he said back then to you.
God spoke it to Moses originally at the burning bush. Remember what happened: Moses was shepherding his father-in-law's sheep. I've often wondered about that, at age 80, he's like going nowhere, it's a nowhere job at age 80, shepherding your father-in-law's sheep. It's not going well for you. But there he was and God had big plans for the last 40 years of Moses's life. So I'm not promising any of you octogenarians, you 80-year-olds, that exciting things are gonna happen for you in this world over the next 40 years, but it might be. Do not underestimate the power of God.
But Moses in his case was shepherding his father-in-law's sheep. And there he saw an astonishing sight, a burning bush. But what was amazing was that, though the flames were burning all around the bush and in the bush, the bush wasn't consumed. And so Moses went aside to see that sight. And God spoke to him from the flames of the burning bush, “Do not come any closer, for the ground in which you're standing is holy ground. I've indeed heard the suffering of my people and now I'm gonna send you to them,” and he said, “Who are you?” And he said, “I am the God of Abraham, and I am the God of Isaac and I am the God of Jacob.”
But what Jesus says here is that God said that to you. He's speaking it to you. He said it to the Sadducees, he says it to the human race because later Moses wrote it down. I really think that's when God made it clear that he was saying it to you, when Moses wrote it down. And so, as we read it, God is speaking it to us.
The root problem is the Sadducees did not believe that God was speaking this scripture to them. They underestimated the power of God to speak through Scripture. And I think they did not have that living relationship with God that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had. And so they were dead in their transgressions and sins, they could not understand.
How Jesus Proves the Resurrection from Grammar
And now we come to one of the most fascinating questions. How did Jesus actually prove the resurrection by this passage? This, dear friends, is a deep question, it is not easy to answer. I want to urge you, just put your finger here in Matthew 22, and go back to Genesis 13, and also find Hebrews 11. There are two key passages that I want to refer to, but not yet. But it's going to take you a while to get there, so I can preach while the pages are fluttering. All right.
How does Jesus prove the resurrection from grammar? Well the proof of the resurrection rests on a simple verb tense in the grammar, “I am,” he says. “I am the God of Abraham, and I am the God of Isaac, and I am the God of Jacob.” Right now, I'm in a relationship with those three men. Remember that in the account of the burning bush the word, I am, is a clear assertion that God makes of eternal existence. He is the living God. And he forever exists, he's forever I am, I am, I am. And that's his name. He's the I Am. And so he's saying, Jesus is saying, “God is right now in a relationship with Abraham.”
You know how Abraham is called the friend of God. Well, he's his friend now, right now. He's in a relationship right now with Abraham and with Isaac, and with Jacob. And then he applies it, saying he is not the God of the dead but of the living. God's not a god of dead people, he's a God of the living, he's the living God and he's the God of the living.
So that's part of it, but I just wasn't satisfied with that as the fullness of the answer, the present tense, I am Abraham's God, because what's going on with Abraham right now? Well, he is a disembodied spirit. He's a spirit of a righteous man made perfect, the book of Hebrews tells us. How does that prove the resurrection, Jesus? I have more questions. And as I thought about this, I was just like, How does Jesus ... He's satisfied that he's proved it, the Sadducees went away so at least that worked.
But I wanna know how does that statement prove bodily resurrection? Well, I think it has to do with what God intended by giving Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bodies to begin with. And the fact that he will not be thwarted in his intention to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bodies. And it goes to what he promised concerning the promised land. But now look at Hebrews 13. I'm gonna I'm just going to do something here that is not in my outline, sorry Herbert. How are you doing? He's translating up there for our Spanish-speaking friends.
It's in Genesis 13 and in Hebrews 11. This is off the text, but that's all right, it's exciting we go out off the text, amen? All right, so what happened in Genesis 13? Well you remember what happened, there was a controversy between Abraham and Lot, and there's not enough land for both of their flocks and they are getting into some difficulties, and so Abraham says to Lot, you know, “Go ahead and choose. You go right, I'll go left. You know, you go left, I'll go right.” And just so Lot chooses the well-watered area down by Sodom and Gomorrah, bad choice, that's another message for another time. But down he goes.
And then God speaks to Abraham. And look what he says, it's fascinating. Verse 14, Genesis 13:14 and following: “The Lord said to Abraham after Lot had parted from him, ‘lift up your eyes from where you are, and look north, and south, and east and west, all the land that you see I will give,’” now listen, this is the key statement here, “‘All of the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.’”
Not just to your offspring, now he said that in Genesis 12, “I'm gonna give it to you, Abraham, and I'm gonna give it to you forever.” Now, if you're reading through the ESV, through the Bible in a year thing you read this morning, I won't ask if you're on schedule, all right. But if you are on schedule you'd read about how Abraham had to bargain with some, some people in the promised land to get a cave to bury his wife. So go over to Hebrews, and in Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 13, there it says, “All these people,” Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised.” Stop there. Now this morning, this very morning, I saw a young man, a sweet young man, I'm not gonna embarrass him by saying his name, it's not one of my kids, wearing a beautiful little button that said, “God keeps his promises.”
Let me ask you a question, did God keep the promise to Abraham that he would give him the land forever? My answer to that is not yet, not yet. Now I know Hebrews 11:13-16 says God had planned something better for them, that better thing is the new heaven and the new earth. There is the promise to Abraham. And so here's how it works. Abraham's body has to be resurrected, and so does Abraham's land. It also has to be resurrected. The both of them are going to be resurrected, read about the resurrection of the land in Second Peter, where everything's going to disappear and the Lord's gonna establish a new heaven and new earth. And so there has to be a continuity in my way of thinking.
Now you can argue with me if you would like, but in my way of thinking if God says, “Yeah, yeah, I know I promised you this land here but I've got something better for you now. I have something better.” There must be continuity for God to keep his promise. And that continuity, the key to that continuity is one word, resurrection.
So go back to Mathew 22. That's how Jesus proves the resurrection from the statement, “I am the God of Abraham. I am his God and I keep my promises, and Abraham is up there waiting for me to keep my promise. And I will keep my promise.” And there's no sense in him getting the land if he's a disembodied spirit, would you agree with that? So let's go ahead and have resurrection of his body as well, so he can fully walk through the length and breadth of that resurrected land that God's gonna give him. Amen.
Dear friends, you are going to die, most likely, if this isn't the final generation, you will die without having received all the things promised to you either. And the key thing that's promised to you that you will not have received, a resurrection body. You're gonna die of some disease, heart disease, cancer, something, liver disease. I don't know what's going to take you out, if you're not in that mysterious final generation, but you will die. I want you to die filled with faith, brothers and sisters. God keeps his promise. Even if you draw your last breath in the ICU over here at Duke or Durham Regional, he will keep his promise to you. Die triumphant, be a witness to those standing around you who don't know that kind of faith. He keeps his promises. So that's how he proved the resurrection of the dead.
I think there's even better proof. And that's when he rose from the dead, Jesus I mean. When he said to Thomas, “Look at my hands and my feet.” When he said, “A spirit has not flesh and bones as you see I have,” there's proof for the resurrection, but you know what? We don't have access to that either anymore than just by scripture. So we have access to this proof by scripture and by the Spirit of God testifying to you through the words written on the page.
Alright, what application can we take from this? Well, many. Let's start with a humble confession, along with the Sadducees that we don't know all the scriptures or the power of God, not like we should.
It says in James 4:6, “But he gives us more grace. And that's why the scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” Can I just urge you to start here, and just say, “Lord, I don't know the scriptures, or the power of God like I should.” And when you humble yourself like that what's God going to give you, according to James? More grace.
And isn't it interesting how the Apostle Paul in the beginning of all of his epistles begins with the same words, “Grace to you.” And at the end of his epistles, “Grace be with you.” It's kinda like you're entering a room of grace, when you read an epistle, and as you walk out grace go with you, the grace of the scriptures. He gives us more grace dear friends, so start with this. Just say, “I know I'm in error. I don't know all my errors, but I just know I'm an error. I'm humble enough to acknowledge, I am an error, and my errors are doctrinal, my errors are in my lifestyle, I've got errors all over me. I'm in error because I don't know the scriptures or the power of God.”
Be willing to acknowledge personal sin in that, part of the reason you don't know the scripture is because you are foolish, and hard of heart, as Jesus said to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus when they didn't believe the resurrection. They didn't believe. “Jesus is dead, oh we're so sad, we had hoped he would be the one,” and all this kind of thing. He said, “Oh how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” And we have to acknowledge that's our case too. We are foolish and slow of heart to believe. That's why we're in an error.
Know the Scriptures
And let's embark anew on a search of the Scriptures, with Jesus at the center. The Scriptures testify about Jesus. He is the scriptures. Let's go to Jesus in the scriptures, and let's know the scripture, shall we brothers and sisters? Let's start afresh. Read through the Bible in a year.
Flinn said last week it's not too late. I say this week it's not too late. I'll say in May, it's not too late. Okay, just start in May, that's my advice. If you want to try to catch up in five months you can do that. I will admire you like you would not believe. If you actually can start in May and finish by the end of the year that's phenomenal. I would just say wherever it is, the book of Judges, just pick up there and do full circle. That's what I advise, but just start, dear friends. There's more Bibles out there, $10 a Bible, but you're not gonna get a price like that at the family Christian store. I'm gonna get in trouble, maybe I have some friends here from the family Christian store. We probably can beat their price at least on the through the Bible in a year book. That's a subsidized price, go get a $10 Bible and read it, everyday.
Study the Scriptures and keep a scripture notebook if it helps you to learn. Memorize, dear friends, memorize the scripture. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you take in the Word of God. In short, be a lifetime learner.
Know the Power of God
And let's also thirdly, learn the power of God, know the power of God. So start by humbling yourself and then study the Scriptures, and let's find out how powerful God is in 2010. What do you think? How do we do that, how do we discover? So we have a far deeper and greater sense of the power of God, a year from now than we do right now?
Well, have you ever meditated on omnipotence? Have you ever stood at the ocean of God's omnipotence and let the water of his knowledge just lap around your feet, and then begin to think, you know, by his wisdom he made the cosmos, chemistry, and physics and biology and all of the things, all of the systems that God, God made those things.
The immense power of God, meditate on it. Think about a scripture verse, one of my favorite on omnipotence is this, and that's in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine.” Wow. Meditate on that. If I can imagine it then he can do immeasurably more than that. Stretch your mind on omnipotence. We are in an error because we underestimate omnipotence.
We sin, I think because we don't trust God enough, the omnipotent God. We ought to be more faithful in evangelism, we're in an error because we don't know the power of God and evangelism. If you could just learn how powerful God could be through you, as you stepped out in faith to be a witness to a coworker or a neighbor or a relative, some a total stranger, you will receive what when the Holy Spirit comes into you? Power, you need to know that power step out, step out into urban ministry, step out into the ministry of the poor and needy, step out into pro-life ministry, see God be powerful through you. You're in error because you don't know how powerful God is.
Meditate deeply and richly on what God has done. What has God done? Created the universe with a word. Destroyed the world that then was with a flood, killing everyone on the planet, but one family, eight souls, and then repopulated the whole earth through them. Re-established the human race through one family. Called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans, established a nation through him, a man whose body was as good as dead, his wife's womb was barren, and he established a nation as countless as the stars in the sky and the sand of the seashore. God can do anything. And he rescued that people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm with 10 miracles. 10 plagues. And with the mighty Red Sea crossing and it destroyed all of Pharaoh's army, but spared alive Israel, and he gave them the Ten Commandments and descended in power, and he made the earth shake, and he spoke to them in such a powerful voice that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken.
And he brought them in, after 40 years of wandering, into the promised land. And took it away from seven nations who were more powerful and more numerous than Israel and gave it to them instead, and he rescued them again and again from Gentile attacks, again and again, even killing 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night with the angel of the lord. That's the power of God.
And more than that, through a virgin, he brought his only begotten Son into the world, and protected him from all of Satan's temptations. He was sinless and pure. And he did great miracles. He fed 5,000 men plus women and children with five loaves and two fish. He walked on the water, and he spoke to the winds and the waves and they obeyed him. And he died. And in a single afternoon he took away the sin of the land, dear friends, of the world, the sins of the world were heaped on him. And so he died for all of God's people. In a single moment all of the wrath of God poured on him our propitiation.
But God didn't leave him dead. On the third day he raised him from the dead. And he sent the Holy Spirit to testify to the truths of these things, and the church has been growing now for 2,000 years, this is the God that we serve.
Is there anything that's too difficult for God? That's what Gabriel said to Mary when she said, “How shall this be I'm just a virgin.”
Believe in the Resurrection from the Dead
And so therefore, dear friends, fourthly let's believe in the resurrection from the dead, amen? Let's believe in it. I wanna just address any unbelievers that are here today. I prayed that you would be here, and I pray that God would speak right now to you. You have heard the gospel. You have heard the gospel. Listen again to the basic facts: 1 Corinthians 15, Paul said this, “But what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried and on the third day was raised to life according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and the twelve and after that to more than 500 of the brothers.
Those are basic gospel facts. It says in Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your hearts that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” And so I appeal to you, someday, if we're not in this final generation someday you will die. And after that you will face judgment, oh go with Christ as your advocate, and you will live forever. You will be resurrected, you'll receive a resurrection body as glorious as his, trust in him.
But I also want to appeal to you as Christians, believe in the resurrection. I think sometimes we forget the doctrine of the resurrection, and we do it shamefully. Don't cling to youth, like our insane culture does. Just grow old. And, look, I don't think there's anything wrong with keeping in good shape as you grow old. Do whatever it takes, take the Advil, whatever it takes, do your exercises alright, let's prolong our years here as long as we can, but dear friends, we're going to age and we're going to die. And let's not forget it's a judgment on our race for sin. Okay, submit to it, humble yourself under it. Okay, let's not fight aging, the way so many people do. Plastic surgery and Botox and all of those things. I'm not saying it's sinful to get all of those things, but if your motive is I'm trying to fight aging and I don't want to get old, I don't wanna... That's wrong, that's not a Christian attitude.
And can I urge you, grieve for lost ones, grieve but don't sin while grieving. Don't grieve like the hopeless who have no hope in the resurrection. Trust in the resurrection. And when we go to pray for and visit sick Christians, those that are diagnosed with terminal cancer or those that have some... Let's remember that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It is a good thing to be separated from these bodies of death, as God wills. And so, yes, pray for healing, we are commanded to pray for healing, okay, but let's also keep in mind that some Christians die when the time has come for them to leave this world. So let's keep that in front as we pray for this.
And let's study the doctrine of the resurrection, go to 1 Corinthians 15 to study it, “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead,” says Paul, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable, it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown in natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. And if there is a natural body there will be a spiritual body.” Feed your faith in the resurrection. It will help you face perhaps a trial, you may have to face in the year 2010.
May 21, 2008, Steven Curtis Chapman's teenage son, Will, accidentally hit their adopted five-year-old daughter, Maria Sue with their SUV and killed her. He never saw her. I can't imagine what that would be like, to be the father of those two kids. I can't imagine what it would be like to stand there at that funeral, that little coffin. But then there's your 18-year-old, Will, and then just how do you minister to Wil?. How do you minister to him? This is how you minister to him, this, the doctrine of the resurrection. And Will, at 18, said this, in an interview he said, “I'm hanging in there. I have some really hard days, I have some really good days. I know I'm going to see my little sister again. It is really my faith that keeps me going.”
Steven Curtis Chapman, said he was quote “desperately hopeful.” The word hopeful is totally focused on this doctrine of the glorious resurrection, the future that we have in heaven, just months before the accident, he had written a song for his daughters called “Cinderella.” The love of a daddy and his princess. They would frequently dance together, right before bedtime and he would sing this song to them. After Maria Sue died, he thought, “I can never sing that song again.” And then God did a work in his heart. And he said, now he sings it in hope, he says, “Someday I'm gonna dance with Maria again, and we'll be with each other forever.” That, dear friends, is the power of the resurrection. I don't know what or how, I'm not a prophet. I'm just saying I have a strong sense from the Lord that some of you need to hear this message today to get ready for something.
So listen, listen, and feed your faith in the resurrection, study it, so that you can grieve not like the hopeless but those who have a strong hope.
Develop Your Relationship with God NOW
Fifthly, I urge you to develop your relationship with God now. “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Is he your god? Feed that friendship. That's the future that we have in heaven. I will be their God and they will be my people, how many times does He say that, that is our future. That's where we're heading in the book of Revelation. He will take away all of these evil things, he will take away sin and crying and death. He'll take them away. And we will see his face and we'll be in his presence and he will be our God and we will be his people, and he will be our God forever. I am the God of Abraham, now and forever. Is he your God?
Look Forward to the Consummation of that Relationship in Eternity
Feed that relationship with him now. And look forward to the consummation of that relationship in eternity, set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Christ returns, not in this world. Set your hope fully on that so that when the rains come and the strings rise, and the winds blow, and beat against your house, it won't fall because it has its foundation on something eternal.
Cherish Marriage Now… But Know that it is Temporary
And then one final word about marriage. Cherish marriage now. Cherish it, make it great, but realize it's temporary, it's temporary. I have seen some phenomenal marriages since I've been here. I've seen some wonderful things. But I've also seen some people who did not handle the death of their spouse as well as they should have or could have.
I say that with great tenderness. I don't find fault, I just urge you to think biblically about your marriage. Marriage was designed as a picture of a future reality, a reality of Christ in union with his people. God has something better than the two of you pairing off in mind for both of you. And that is that all of us would be perfectly one as the Father and the Son are one, and united with Christ our bridegroom for all eternity. So what we should do then is have our Christian marriages, as much as possible picture that future reality. But then when the time comes to be separated by death, that we can rejoice that one of you is closer to that final reality and the other is coming soon. Close with me if you would in prayer.