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Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx
Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx

Episode 92 · 7 months ago

What If The Resurrection Never Happened? Easter 2022

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

What If The Resurrection Never Happened?

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Dax Bryant - Preaching

And since we usually only say this once a year, we might as will say it a bunch today. He is risen. Hallelujah, he is alive. Will you join me as we pray before we come to God's word this morning together, our gracious Redeemer, you were crowned with thorns, you hung on across you were buried in a tomb. You descended to the dead to declare that the head of the serpent was crushed. You burst forth from the grave, triumphant over sin, death, darkness and hell, and you have ascended to the glories of Heaven, where you plead for your people day and night. Risen, Lord, we praise you that justice has been satisfied, your sacrifice has been accepted, God's wrath has been propitiated and you are the gracious pledge and guarantee that we who belong to you will share in your glory. Assure us that as we die in Christ, so also in Him we will rise. We praise you for the blessed exchange that is ours, our sin for your righteousness. Your death is our life, your resurrection is our peace, your ascension is our hope, your prayers are our comfort and your word is a lamp that lights up the path we walk in gratitude and obedience to you, sovereign God. Speak to us now from your word spirit. Prepare ears, minds and hearts to hear from you for the glory of the Risen Sun. Amen. Well, we will be in First Corinthians fifteen this morning. If you close your Bible, open it back up to First Corinthians Chapter Fifteen. This morning, if you haven't picked up on it, is the Sunday where we Christians celebrate the stunning victory of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, from the dead. We believe that roughly twozero years ago, a man named Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead three days later, and he is in fact alive at this very moment. That's a bold claim, but it is a claim that is backed up by substantial evidence, and I suppose we could take time this morning to kind of showcase all of the different proofs that there are for the veracity the truthfulness of the resurrection. We could even just spend time in this one single chapter of First Corinthians fifteen to see that we could point to the fact that this message that Paul delivered to the Church he founded in Corinth the very message that he is writing to them here to remind them of was something that he himself received. In fact, look there at Chapter Fifteen, verse one. Notice this. Paul says. Now I would remind you, Brothers, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand and by which you are being saved if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. But this Gospel that Paul preached was it his idea? Notice verse three, for I delivered to you, as of first importance, what I also received. In other words, Paul didn't invent this Gospel message, he inherited it. The words that follow here in verses three through seven, are not original to Paul. Even Non Christian academics agree that these verses contain much older source material that is very, very...

...much more close to the time of Jesus's own lifetime. And what does this very early source material that Paul is quoting here, this almost creed like claim, make, while still in verse three? First of all, that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures, and we could point to the fact that virtual no one disputes the death of Jesus, and even the manner of death of Jesus. That is well attested to both by sources from within the Bible and even sources from outside the Bible. But there's another claim, found here, verse four, that he was buried. Again, no argument from anybody there that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. This is what's being claimed, and we could point to how the reliability of this claim of Resurrection rests firmly on the eyewitness testimony of hundreds of witnesses in fact. For example, notice verse five. He appeared to see Fus, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, meaning you can go ask them about this if you want to, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, last of all, as to one untimely born. He appeared also to me, and we could even consider Paul's own life story, couldn't we? This man who once murdered followers of Jesus is here now arguing for the truthfulness of the resurrection. He is, he says in Verse Nine, for I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the Church of God. And then he continues to say, but by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though. It was not I, but the grace of God that is with me, whether it was I or they. So we preach and so you believed, and we could say a lot more about that, but the fact is this man was dramatically changed. We could even back up a little further and examine the Old Testament and point out how the resurrection happened in accordance with the Scriptures, as it says they're in verse four. We could go and study all of the predictions that Jesus himself made about his own resurrection. We could even go review the four Gospel accounts and notice all of the different details in those four accounts of the resurrection and understand that the very fact that those are not carbon copies of each other, that they're not perfectly identical, actually lends credibility to the fact that these are eyewitness accounts. This is what you would expect. They it's evidence that this is not the product of collusion or conspiracy. We could observe the apostles they're early preaching, their their repeated claims that they made in public. We could make note of the sudden and startling transformation in the lives of those men. We could consider even how they were willing to suffer and die for this claim that Jesus rose from the dead, something that is a little difficult to imagine them doing if they knew that it was all a lie or a hoax. We could think even about how easy it would have been to disprove these initial claims at the time by simply...

...producing Jesus's body. After all, it was placed under heavy Roman guard in the tomb so that it couldn't be stolen, so why not bring it out and shut this whole thing down? Unless it wasn't there? And we could address many other questions and doubts and claims that skeptics might have and like to bring out, especially this time of year. We could do all of that, but that's not really my burden this morning, as I look around the room. I don't know everyone in here, but I know many of you and most of you already believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for the reasons that I've mentioned and for many others. Now, if you are here this morning and and you are not a Christian, let me say first of all that we are glad you are here here. There is no place we would rather you be than right here with this this morning. But I do want to make clear it is is not my burden to try and prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ to you today. That's not to say that there isn't something for you here. If you are willing to listen and be open to God's word, I think you'll find something here as well. So, instead of trying to prove that the resurrection of Jesus Christ actually happens, instead I want to follow along with the flow of Paul's thoughts in those in that passage that Jason Red Force there in First Corinthians, fifteen, verses twelve through nineteen, because in those verses the question that Paul seems to be asking us to consider is this. What if the resurrection never happened? Now you probably know some people who doubt that the resurrection actually happened. Maybe you're one of those people. Maybe you know some people who deny that the resurrection of Jesus Christ actually happened. Maybe you even know people who mock those who would believe such a silly thing that the resurrection of anybody could ever happen. After all, by their away of thinking, we are much more sophisticated and intellectual these days. Compare it especially to those poor gullible, naive simpletons in the first century who actually fell for all this stuff. But it turns out that ancient people had just as much difficulty with the idea of resurrection as US modern people do. That seems to have been the case in this city of Corinth, because that's exactly what Paul's getting at in verse twelve. Notice firse twelve. Now, if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection from the dead? So someone was saying it right, and we know that in the Pagan Setting, in the city of Corinth this time period, people did not believe in a physical resurrection from the dead. Now they did believe, even as most false religions still do even today, that there was some kind of afterlife. But but that did not include the the resurrection of one's physical body. And, just to put it in graphic terms, they could go dig up a grave and see very plainly that the body's still there. They believed, or at least we're beginning to believe around this time, that the physical was evil, was bad,...

...and the spiritual was good, so that when you died, you you left your physical body behind, you kind of shed it like a snake skin, and then your soul went to live somewhere else in the afterlife. And it seems like this kind of pagan thinking had crept into the church here in Corinth that's why Paul says, how can some of you, you Corinthian Christians that I'm writing to, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection from the dead? And then he leads us on a very eye opening journey to consider the ramifications of this. If it is true that the resurrection never happened, and even as you heard that passage read a little earlier, did you pick up on the overall negatives flant to it? Just just let your eyes kind of Skim over this chunk of versus here again, and notice how frequently the two negatives no and not are used in these verses. Verse Twelve, No resurrection. Verse Thirteen, no Resurrection, and not even Christ has been raised. Verse Fourteen, not been raised. In verses fifteen and sixteen and Seventeen, five more times you'll find the phrase not raised. So I want you to think of these verses this morning. Is Sort of theological dominos that are set up, and the very first domino is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And if you knock that domino over, everything else after it comes tumbling down. This is what Paul wants us to think about here. What if the resurrection never happened? He says in verse thirteen, quite obviously. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. If resurrection is impossible, then not even Jesus rose from the dead. And if that is true, if he did not rise from the dead, then it almost goes without saying that there are devastating implications then for Christianity. I mean the resurrection is the Lynch Pin that holds Christianity together. You remove that lynchpin and the wheels come off all of the Glorious Truths of the Gospel that we say we believe, and started in verse fourteen, Paul reveals some of the magic consequences that would fall off if the lynchpin of the resurrection was indeed removed. In fact, we're going to consider four of those consequences this morning for additional theological dominos that fall if indeed the resurrection of Jesus Christ never happened. Here's the first one. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ never happened, there is no Gospel Truth. There is no Gospel Truth Verse Fourteen and of Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. Let's just pause right there with that word vain. It means empty, hollow, shallow, fake, foolish. In...

...fact, you get the same idea over in the letter from James James Two, verse twenty, where James Says that the person who says they have faith but there is no work, there is no fruit that comes from that faith, then that faith is foolish, it's vain. Same word empty, without purpose, hollow, fake. And so then here back in First Corinthians, what is it exactly that is said to be empty or or foolish or hollow or fake. Well, he tells us there, in verse fourteen, two things. Our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. Now here. He's not talking about the act of preaching or the act of believing. Rather, he's speaking about the content, the substance of what we preach and what we believe. And what is the content, the substance of what Christians preach and believe? Well, it's the Gospel. And what is the Gospel? I'm glad you asked and in case you missed it, let me point you back up to the summary that that Paul gives us. Starting in verse one. He says, I would remind you, Brothers, of the Gospel I preach to you. What is this Gospel? Well, much more could be said about it than what Paul says here, but it can never be reduced to less than this verse three, middle of Verse Three, that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried and that he on the he was raised on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures. That is the irreducible core of the Gospel. Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Now around that corps, as we read our whole Bible, there is a whole lot more to say about that Gospel, the fact that humanity was created by God in his own image and therefore God, as our creator, has authority over us and we owe our ultimate allegiance to him. And yet our first parents and we ourselves thin against this God by defying our Creator and choosing to do what we think is best, what we think is right in our own eyes, and that is thin against God, by going our own way instead of his way. And since God is holy, he must judge that sin. It cannot stand, and so his wrath very rightly remains on each individual sinner. But God sent his son into the world to live a perfect, sinless, obedient life in our place, to die this death on the cross, to be buried, to be raised on the third day. He then ascended to heaven, where he intercedes for believers day and night. And now God commands all people everywhere to turn from their sin and trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life. That is the Gospel we preach, that is the Gospel we trust in. But if the resurrection never happened, then Hey, last person out, hit the lights, lock the door. Seriously, because what are we doing here? If the resurrection never happened, if Christ has not been raised, why would you want to sit here and listen to one more word this morning? Why would you want to sing another song? If the resurrection never happened? Not only is the preaching in vain, but your faith is in vain, it says. That...

...means you're wasting your time. Perhaps you've wasted most of your life, and not just you, but everyone who has trusted in Jesus to rescue them from their sins. Because if the resurrection never happened, I mean you might as well just give this Christian life up right, I mean go join a country club or or something like that instead, something that you're going to enjoy life with. Why continue this charade? Why try to convince other people to believe in something that's untrue? Because if the resurrection never happened, there is no gospel truth, and not only that, in fact. Secondly, if the resurrection never happened, you can't trust anything about Christianity. You can't trust anything about Christian janity. Notice Verse Fifteen. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise. If it is true that the dead are not raised, see what Paul saying here. If the resurrection never happened, then he and all the other apostles are liars and everything that they taught and preached and wrote should be questioned. That word that's translated misrepresented or misrepresenting here. It's found in only one other place, and the New Testament, in Matthew Twenty six, verse sixty. It's at Jesus's trial when the Jewish leaders are looking for someone to discredit Jesus, and of course they can't find anyone. But the verse says that many false witnesses, that's the word. Many false witnesses came forward to misrepresent, and that is what Paul or me or anyone else who proclaims the Gospel would be if the resurrection of Jesus Christ never happened. A false witness, at best, a storyteller and maybe some kind of motivational speaker, at more likely, a false teacher, a wolf in sheep's clothing. Now I want you to follow some smaller dominoes here for a second. So if the resurrection never happened. That means that Paul and of all the other apostles are bearing false witness about God because they say that it did happen. In fact, the the event of the Resurrection of Christ was absolutely central to the message that they preached. When Peter preached the very first sermon following the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he says in acts to verse Twenty Four, speaking of Jesus, God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death because it was not possible for him to be held by it. A little later, in Acts Luke who is describing the preaching ministry in the Early Church, and he says in Chapter Four, verse thirty three, and with great power, the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Remember, one of the requirements of apostleship was to be an eye witness to the resurrected Christ, and so the resurrection was central to their testimony. The resurrection was what they preached because they had seen him. Unless the resurrection never happened, then they were lying about out seeing him. And now, since it is...

...these same apostles and their associates who wrote the rest of the New Testament, why should we believe anything that they said? And since these New Testament authors frequently quote from the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Risen Messiah, we have to call those scriptures into question too. And suddenly we have a whole Bible that we can't trust. And if we believe that God cannot lie, but we conclude that this book was written by liars, well then it follows that whatever this book is, it's not from God. If the resurrection never happened, you see how quickly everything comes crashing down, which is why Paul Repeats himself here in Verse Sixteen. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised, and the implication is if Christ has not been raised, then we have some big problems. Here's another domino. If the resurrection never happened, there was no victory over sin. There was no victory over sin, verse seventeen. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Now this word feudal. It's very similar to the word vein that was used back up in verse fourteen, but it's not the same word. Remember what it was in verse fourteen, that was said to be vain, empty hollow. We said it was the contents, the substance of the Gospel, if Jesus has not been raised. So now in verse Seventeen, what is it that is said to be feudal empty hollow? Here it's not the content of faith. Rather, it is the the actions, the result of faith. If the resurrection never happened, then in futility, despite the best intentions of those who believe, nothing ultimately changed about their lives, because one product of the victory over sin that is achieved in the resurrection is a transformed life. But if the resurrection never happened, then the victory over sin was never won and that life was never actually changed, despite outward appearances. And here's the deal. If the resurrection never happened, it's not just that you believed something foolish and oh well, there's really no harm done. No, it's far more serious than that, Paul says, you are still in your sins, meaning if the resurrection never happened, the wages of sin have not been paid. Your sin and the wrath of God remains upon you. There is no atonement, no forgiveness, no redemption no salvation, no eternal life. If the resurrection never happened, you are still in your sins, which means that when you stand before God on that great and Final Day in judgment, you will have no mediator, no advocate to point to, because there was no effective substitute who died in your place and bore the wrath that you deserved. I mean, if there was an effective substitute who had accomplished that work, then God would have certainly validated that substitute as satisfactory and sufficient by removing the penalty for...

...sin, which is death. But if there is no resurrection, then the wrath of God has not been satisfied and you are still in your sins. Oh, but it gets worse. If the resurrection never happened, not only is there no gospel truth, not only can you not trust anything about Christianity, not only do you still remain in your sins, but if the resurrection never happened, finally, when you die, you will be eternally damned. Verse Eighteen. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. Scripture often refers to death as fallen asleep, as it does here, as it did up in verse six. In John Eleven, Jesus speaks of his dead friend Lazarus as one who has fallen asleep. In Acts Seven, where Stephen is being stoned to death, he is said to have fallen asleep. And so here in verse eighteen. What it means, then, is that if the resurrection never happened, those who have died in Christ so Christians who die have perished, and that word that's translated perished, means more than die. We all know that we die. This word means more than that. In fact, it's the same word that's used by Jesus in Matthew Ten, verse Twenty Eight, where he says and do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear Him who can. Here's the word destroy both soul and body in hell. This this word, refers to remaining in the clutches of death for eternity. It means perishing in hell forever. So what's being said here? If the resurrection never happened, then just like nonbelievers, believers also will perish. Think about what that means. That's all of the saints that you read about in the Bible, all of the Saints Throughout Church history, all of the saints that you know and love personally, all of them will perish in hell forever because they trusted in a savior who couldn't actually save them. Do you see how these dominoes fall? If you knock over the idea of the Resurrection, that means that Christ himself didn't rise. And if Christ didn't rise, then the Gospel isn't true. And if Christ didn't rise, then you can't trust anything about Christianity. If Christ didn't rise, there is no victory over sin. And if Christ didn't rise, then when you die, even as a believer, you will be eternally damned. All of which leads Paul to conclude in Verse Nineteen. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are, of all people, most to be pitied. Now, no, US, here he's talking not about all the other things that you might foolishly put your hope in, accumulating stuff, self, fulfillment, personal happiness, position, power, all of those other things that you might seek outside of Christ, as tragic as it is to put your hope in those other things. He's not talking about that. He says here, if in Christ we have hope in...

...this life only so this is a much more devastating picture. This is this is directed to Christians. Think about this. This means that from the moment you felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repented of your sin and cried out to Jesus to save you from that moment when you trusted in Christ and took up your cross and followed him, for years perhaps you have been fighting temptation and struggling to put sin to death and disciplining yourself. You've spent countless hours reading the Bible, on your knees in prayer, serving your church. You've made sacrifices, you have suffered strained relationships, you've experienced rejection, all for the cause of Christ. You've done all these things as a Christian, then only to discover in the end that this life is all there is. And Paul says that's pitiful, that's pathetic. You should have followed the the advice of the Pagans in Koreans and Corinth looked down at verse thirty two for just a moment. There was a saying going around the city at the time. If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. If the resurrection never happened, go live it up, go pursue every single desire of your heart, because if this Christian life of great risk and sacrifice is your only life and there's nothing else after this, you are pathetic. What reason is there content to continue this facade if the resurrection never happened? It would be pointless. Right, stop giving your time, stop giving your money. I don't know if people really say Yolo anymore, but go live your best life now, right, go do what you want. And that is the sad state of every other philosophical worldview outside of Christianity, and that's why I'm glad that, even though we didn't read it, Verse Twenty is here see it. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead. If everything about Christianity can be that it has to hang on the resurrection. If if you can throw the whole thing out the window, if you can just disprove the resurrection, isn't an interesting that in almost two thousand years no one has been able to do that, not for lack of trying, I would remind you. Now let's pick some of these dominoes back up, shall we, since in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the truth of the Gospel is validated since Christ has been raised from the dead. Not only do we have the Gospel Truth, but we also have confidence and courage in what we proclaim about the Gospel as being true. Paul and the other apostles preached courageously because they knew the message that they preached was true. What turned a group of disciples who struggled to understand Jesus, who struggled to stand with Jesus? Remember how they all ran away the night he was arrested? What transformed those cowardly men into men who turned the world upside down? What changed between the end of the Gospels and the Book of...

...acts? What allowed these men to become as bold as lions in the temple and in the synagogues and in the market place? It was this they had encountered, the risen Lord Jesus, who appeared to them after his death, just as he said that he would. It was the reality of the resurrection that helped convince them of the truth of the Gospel. And since Christ has been raised from the dead, that means we can trust the teachings of Christianity. The resurrection validates the trustworthiness of the witnesses who wrote the New Testament and quoted the Old Testament, and so we can trust that this book is from God when it speaks about the resurrection or anything else that it speaks about. And Not only did the resurrection happen, but the men who witnessed it and preached it and recorded it in scripture, they were forever changed by it, and not just them. Back in the nineteen century a man named John Patton volunteered to be a missionary in the islands of the new Hebrides in the South Pacific. About twenty years prior to this, another man had gone to be a missionary there, named John Williams, only to be killed, cooked and Eaton by the native islanders. So when this man, John Patten, who had a very fruitful ministry of his own in Glasgow Scotland, made his intentions to go to this place known to his church, an elderly man stood up in the midst of the congregation and said the cannibals. You will be eaten by the cannibals and patent replied, Mister Dixon, you are advanced in years now and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave. There to be eaten by worms. I confess to you that if I can live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms. And then he said this, and in the Great Day my Resurrection Body Will Rise as fair as yours, in the likeness of our risen redeemer. What gives a man that kind of courage to risk everything, even his own life? I'll tell you what it is. It's a belief that this life is not all that there is. It is a belief in the teaching of Christianity that Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead, will one day return and raise up our bodies to live with him forever. Since Christ has been raised from the dead, the truth of the Gospel is validated. We can test trust the teaching of Christianity and we can share in the victory over sin, because the wages of sin have been paid by his death and validated by his resurrection. And now we are not just saved from the penalty of sin, but we are being saved from the power of sin, and one day we will be completely saved from even the presence of sin itself, but for you today it is the evidence of victory over sin in your life now that lends credibility to this message. We believe that's the picture that we that we got even in the baptism this morning, right buried in the likeness of Christ's death, raised to walk in newness of life. Now that's something that those of us who are Christians here this morning need to remember when you're speaking to your loved ones or your...

...co workers, are your neighbors, that to them, the message that you speak is inseparable from you the Messenger. So does the life that you lead reinforce the words that you speak? That's the question. And since Christ has been raised from the dead, believers will not perish, but can anticipate pay life after death. Have you ever been so excited for something that the night before you could hardly get to sleep? Maybe maybe it was your wedding day or the first day of a new job or a vacation that you were looking forward to, whatever it was, but when you finally not off and then you wake up in the next morning and that first thought about what's going to happen that day just fills you with joy and excitement in the same way, this sleep death for the Christian comes with a sense of joyful excitement and anticipation for a new day, because believers will not perish when they die, because they have the guarantee that since Christ rose from the dead, so will all who belong to him also rise when he returns to call us home. By the way, that man John Patten, he did go to those islands. Within months of arriving, his young wife and his newborn son both died and he stayed there ministering for four years before he returned to Scotland to remarry. He then made another voyage to the islands with his new wife to return to the mission field. They had several children together, including a precious little girl. She also died, but pattent and his wife were so sick at the time of her death they couldn't even get out of bed. They had two other little boys, ages six and four, who used their toy box as their sisters coffin and with the help of some of the natives, they buried their little sister just outside the house, as their bedridden parents lay inside listening through the window to the funeral. How do you endure something like that? I mean emotionally. How do you continue? People had called patent of fool even before he went to the islands, and now he's lost a wife, he's lost children. How can he press on? Where did he find the strength? Listen to what he wrote. The little grave dug by the teachers of the mission was with an ear shot of where we lay, and there are two sons kneeling saying as their sister was laid in the earth and in the arms of Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life. John Patton had a hope beyond this life. Do you, even if you call yourself a Christian, if your hope is in this life only, you will never speak of Jesus to that family member or friend or neighbor or CO worker. You will never go with the Gospel to the hard places to try to reach the hard people. Why would you? But if there is hope for a new day, than any risk you take with the Gospel, any hardship that...

...you suffer for the sake of Christ pales in comparison with the reward of resurrection and Eternal Life. The Lynch Pin of the truth of Christianity is the resurrection. It is a well attested historical event that anchors us to a shared hope with all of the believers who have come before us and who will come after us. The resurrected Christ is our only hope in life and death. Even when we suffer, he is our only hope, and the resurrection reminds us that we do not live for this world alone. The resurrection reminds us that salvation is not merely deliverance from hell in the future, but for but from the power of sin in the present. The resurrection empowers us to a life of sanctification and growing in holiness, and that leads us to a life of praise to the God who saved us in the death and resurrection of his own son. But all of this, it's not automatic for you. Do you understand? Just because the resurrection did in fact happen, that doesn't mean that you are just somehow inherently swept up in all of the benefits of the resurrection. And it's not even enough just for you to acknowledge that, yes, factually and historically, the resurrection did happen. No, you have to place your trust in the one who was resurrected from the dead. You have to turn from your sin and turn toward him, and the only way you can do that is by crying out to Jesus to save you. And if you don't, if you choose to believe that the resurrection never happened and therefore live like the resurrection never happened, well then in the end it will be for you just as if the resurrection never happens, and none of us want that for you. Friend of God is working on your Heart Right now, convicting you of your sin and your knee need for a savior, calling on you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead. Then don't let another minute pass you by, stop your excuses and yield to him. Ask God to save you, and he will do it. And then, please understand from there. You're not meant to figure all the rest out on your own. You have questions, ask them. You have doubts, raise them. Talk to the person that you came to church with today. Come talk to me afterwards. Nothing would make me happier. We Christians have nothing to fear from questions or doubts, no matter how scathing they may be, because history is on our side. The resurrection really did happen and that changes everything. Pray with me, precious Lord, you are the one who was dead but are now alive, and now and forever, risen and exalted...

Jesus, rule in the hearts and souls of your people. Bind us together in the truth of the Gospel, in the teaching of Christianity, in the victory over sin and in the expectation of life after death. Unite us to you as those who have been purchased by your blood so that we might be presented faultless before God in the life to come, and as those who share in the power of your resurrection that we may be found faithful and fruitful in this life. We pray all of this in the name of the risen Jesus. Amen.

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