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Because He Lives

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
April 6, 2023 9:00 am

Because He Lives

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 6, 2023 9:00 am

In this Easter message, Pastor J.D. explains that whether or not the resurrection is true, we should all want it to be true.


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. I'm not what I used to be. God changed me. I didn't just have a personality adjustment.

I didn't read a book. I had the power of Jesus come into me, and that's because God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to become my sin that I might become the righteousness of God in him. And now in him, I'm a new creation, and that means old things are passed away and behold, all things are become new. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today, we are going to celebrate Easter a few days early with this special Easter Sunday message from Pastor J.D. He takes us to 1 Corinthians 15 and shows us that the incredible news of the resurrection is in fact true. Jesus has entered into our greatest fear, death, and has defeated and overturned it forever. And because he lives, everything has changed. So put on your Easter vest and let's begin the celebration even now.

Our message today is titled, Because He Lives. Y'all, listen, whether or not the resurrection is true, you should want it to be true. Tim Keller says to imagine that you got an official letter in the mail saying that a distant relative that you didn't know that well had died and left you millions of dollars. You would likely be skeptical.

I mean, why would somebody that you haven't spoken to in years and did not know that well suddenly, why would they leave you suddenly? All that money, you of all people. But I imagine that most of you would at least look into it and that you would hope that it was true. That's how the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 assumes that you and I would approach the question of the resurrection.

Everything in us should want it to be true. In his biography of Steve Jobs, the iconic Apple founder, Walter Isaacson, the biographer, records that just before Steve Jobs died, Jobs was asked whether or not he believed in God. Jobs responded that throughout his life he had had seasons where he did believe and seasons where he did not believe. But he had just sort of paused in a reflective moment and he said, as I'm now facing the prospect of my own death, he said, I find myself believing in God more and more. Why, the interviewer asked.

Why? And he said, because. Because I just cannot accept that the body just turns off one day and then it's all over. That you're gone forever.

And then one day the sun of our solar system goes out and that's the end of human history. He said, there's got to be more to it than that. I know there's more to it than that. There's something inside me that tells me there's more to it than that.

We cannot be just an illusion of consciousness that arises from a fortuitous cosmic accident. Incidentally, he said, that's why he never liked to put on-off switches on Apple products. And some of you know that because it's frustrating for how to turn the thing off.

He said, it's because I don't like the concept of being able just to flip a switch and turn something completely off. And so I will say it to you again, whether or not the resurrection is true, you should want it to be true. And so the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 gives us the incredible news that it is true. Somebody has entered into our greatest fear, death.

He has defeated it and he has overturned it forever. 1 Corinthians 15, 3 reads like this. And if you've got a Bible, I would invite you to open it and maybe even take out your phone and turn it on. If you promise not to look at Twitter or, you know, Instagram or Snapchat or whatever the kids are doing now, and just look at the Bible.

If you'll do that, look at it. 1 Corinthians 15, 3, Paul says, for I delivered to you as of first importance, what I also received of all the things that I've ever said. This is the most important, Paul says, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, in accordance with the prophecies and the scriptures, no less than 3000 places in the Old Testament that foretell the coming of Jesus, giving details about where he would be born and what he would be like and how he would live and how he would die and many, many other things. Verse 4, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures and that, verse 5, he appeared to Peter and then to the 12th. And then he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive if you want to go talk to him, but some have fallen asleep, some have died. Verse 7, then he appeared to James and then to all the apostles.

Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. Not only is it true, Paul says, it is the core of all that we believe and all that we teach and if it did not happen, Paul says, all the rest of Christianity is false and you might as well be at home enjoying a Sunday morning in your beds. He says in verse 19, if in Christ we have hope in this life only we are of all people most to be pitied. Christianity, you see, is not primarily about a better way to live.

It's not about how to have a fuller or more complete life here. It is about unflinching hope in the face of death. Nor is the Christian Easter hope some kind of springtime, oh, you know, it's been a dark winter, but there's a new birth of better days ahead kind of hope. The Christian hope is built on the actual resurrection of Jesus. If it did not happen, there is no hope. Jesus died an actual death on an actual cross and his actual body was put into an actual grave and three actual days later he actually walked out and left that actual tomb actually empty.

And a bunch of people actually saw it. I mean just imagine for a minute, imagine for a minute as you witness the death of one of your friends. You went to their funeral and you saw them buried and then a week later they come walking up to you at a Starbucks.

They sit down and they have a cup of coffee and a conversation with you. That's what these experiences of the resurrection were like. They weren't dreams, they weren't visions, they were real. Well you ask, well how do we know that it happened? This is not a place right now that I can present to you a full-scale defense of the resurrection, but let me at least point out some of the pieces of evidence that Paul quickly goes over just to press his point. The first he says is the scriptures. All this happened he said according to prophecies in the Old Testament, literally thousands of places where the coming of the Messiah is foretold. In fact you should just read it.

If you're more in the skeptical camp you should read it, you should study it. The coming of Jesus was communicated through direct statements and symbols and foreshadowings on nearly every page of what we call the Old Testament. Honestly for me this might be the most convincing evidence. It's like you are hearing somebody described by 30 different authors over 1500 years and then in the gospels he just shows up and you say that's him, that's him, that's the one we've been talking about. So Paul first points to the scriptures, secondly Paul points to a series of eyewitnesses.

He says he appeared to Peter and then after him to all the apostles. These apostles, Peter being first among them, would go to their deaths proclaiming that they had seen Jesus alive. You say well maybe they were lying. I mean we all know that throughout history lots of people have died for a lie. I mean think about the soldiers from Russia right now. Many of them are dying for a lie.

Yes but people do not typically die for something they know to be a lie if they have nothing personal to gain from it. The apostles gained no power, no privilege, no prestige by claiming that Jesus had been raised from the dead. In fact it brought them only persecution and pain and poverty. Nor was this just a commitment to Jesus's teachings that would keep them going as in as in they believed in his teachings so much that they just wanted to see this movement take hold and so they made up these exaggerations about his resurrection and then maintained those exaggerations until their deaths. Peter himself is a pretty convincing example which is why Paul probably brought him up. Peter after he had walked with Jesus for three years and literally heard everything Jesus had to teach denied Jesus three times in the space of a few hours as Jesus was being crucified in order to save his own skin. Y'all that same Peter Paul says that same one who caved in fear three times before the crucifixion that same Peter is going to go on to his death proclaiming that Jesus is Lord never once caving or even changing his story.

What changed the apostle Peter? He saw the resurrection. Paul said then he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time. That's important because some people like to dismiss the resurrection as wishful thinking or a hallucination kind of like when you really miss somebody and so you imagine that you see them and you even have a conversation with them. Paul says yeah but 500 people don't typically hallucinate at once and all see the same thing and hear the same thing and then talk later and corroborate the same story and when Paul writes all this all these people most of these people are still alive and he's like go talk to them ask them to tell you the stories. Paul says then he appeared to James.

You know what's remarkable about about that reference? James was the half brother of Jesus according to Josephus who was the secular Jewish historian not a Christian. James the half brother of Jesus became the leader of the Jerusalem church and was stoned according to Josephus for his belief that Jesus was the resurrected son of God. James started out not believing that his half brother Jesus was the Messiah.

We know that we know that because the gospels tell us that in a couple of places. They say that James and the other siblings did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah but something convinced James that his older brother was the son of God and worthy of worship. Question for you how many of you have an older brother?

Raise your hand right now. You got an older brother raise your hand. What would it take to convince you that your older brother was God in the flesh and worthy of worship? You're like uh son of the devil maybe but not the son of God. What convinced James? What convinced James that his older half brother the other son of Mary but obviously not of God the father what convinced him that Jesus was the son of God? It was the resurrection. Finally Paul says verse 8 what about me?

What about me? I was the last person who wanted Jesus to be alive. I've built my life and career on him not being the son of God and when I actually became convinced that he was the son of God it cost me dramatically but something happened that changed my whole course completely.

All these things show you that this was not a fairy tale it actually happened and sure you can come up with a different theory about what happened but I'm telling you I'm telling you that none of them are as convincing as the simple explanation that Jesus actually rose from the dead and because that's true Paul says I see everything differently now. This is Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Before we dive back into today's teaching I want to highlight a great resource that we provide our listeners with in addition to the Summit Life broadcasts. Pastor J.D. has a daily email devotional sent every Monday through Friday designed to keep you growing in your faith and following along with our current Summit Life teaching series. These devotionals are the perfect way to begin your day with God's Word and establish a consistent routine of spending time with him. You can sign up for this free resource today by visiting slash resources where you'll also have access to all of Pastor J.D. 's sermon transcripts and our complete sermon library. We're grateful to our amazing supporters for making all of this possible free of charge and we pray that these devotionals will be a source of encouragement to you each day. Now let's get back to our teaching with Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. Everything differently now. Number one because he lives Paul says I know that Jesus is who he says he is. Look at verse 9. Paul says I was formerly a persecutor of the church formerly a persecutor but now he says I proclaim Jesus as the son of God.

Paul had previously found the message of Jesus objectionable if not deplorable. If Jesus was the Messiah he thought why was there still so much pain in the world? Why if Jesus was really the Messiah? Why was Rome still in charge? But Paul said if Jesus was raised from the dead then my opinions and my objections about his message are irrelevant.

Right? I mean if he if he was raised from the dead he is who he says he is and he did what he said he did. Y'all I want to say this sensitively but I know that there are some of you who won't come to Jesus because you have unanswered questions. In fact maybe they're similar to Paul's questions. You say things like if God is love why is there still so much pain in the world?

If God is real why didn't he answer this prayer that I prayed? And I just want to say to you those are valid questions and I might add all of them asked by the Bible writers themselves. Y'all I keep waiting for a skeptic to ask a question not already asked by a Bible writer but I haven't found one.

Did you hear that? In all my reading of all the skeptics I keep waiting for one to ask a question about God that is not already somewhere in the Bible itself. But here's the point if Jesus is who he says he is then there are answers to those questions even if we don't know them yet.

Right? If we know Jesus was raised from the dead that means there is an answer to my question even if I cannot grasp it yet. Years ago I was I was exploring the claims of Christ with a Muslim friend and she was having the hardest time with the concept of the trinity that there's one God in three persons who said you know I just don't see how you could say that there is one God that exists eternally as three persons. And y'all I tried every possible explanation and illustration in the book and nothing satisfied her. And so finally I said to her I said I said suppose that suddenly Jesus were to appear to you to walk right up to you in this room and he did something that convinced you that it was really him. He shared some secret about your life that only you knew or something like that and then he looked you in the eyes and he said listen there is an answer to your question about the trinity but right now you're not going to understand it and I'm not even going to be able to answer it for you I'm not going to answer it for you but you can see you can see that I'm real and that I am who I say I am I just need you to trust me with that unanswered question for a while and so I asked her I said if Jesus did that would you trust him and she said well yes of course and I said so the question is not can you ever explain the trinity satisfactorily to me the real question is is Jesus who he says he is the next morning she called me she said I know that Jesus was raised from the dead in fact my heart has known that for a while I still don't know the answer to all my questions she said but I am ready to follow him and I will trust him with the answers see that's the same question for you is Jesus who he says he is listen I know you have questions and they're real but if Jesus was raised from the dead you can trust him with those questions some of you pride yourself on being skeptical on doubting everything okay what if you doubted your doubts what if you said look if Jesus was raised from the dead maybe my doubt and my objection as convincing as it is to me maybe it's not as significant as I think it is because he lives he is who he says he is number two because he lives we can be forgiven I love what Paul says in verse 9 he says for I am the least of all the apostles unworthy even to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God verse 10 but by the grace of God I am now what I am y'all how does a former murderer go to being one of the fathers of the church you would think that there are certain things that would get you canceled for life in the kingdom of God and I would think that overseeing the torture and execution and the separation of families of innocent Christians would go in that category but Paul said Paul he said but because of the resurrection I wasn't canceled the resurrection meant that I could be redeemed you see the resurrection meant that whatever Jesus was doing on the cross had worked the scriptures prophesied the scriptures prophesied that Jesus would die for the sins of the world that every sin ever committed would be placed upon him this was one of the reasons his cross was so unspeakably awful he was dying for murder and for betrayal and for dishonesty and for unselfishness and uncleanness and abuse and because of that Paul knew that he could be forgiven and the resurrection means this morning that you can be forgiven too you say no no not not me JD my sin is too bad I've turned away too many times I think I'm beyond repair I think I'm beyond his love now Paul would look at you and say are you kidding me I was a persecutor I was a murderer but he was wounded for my transgressions he was bruised for my murders and my betrayals and my iniquities every family I separated that price was put upon him and the price that would bring me peace one day was put on his head and by his stripes I was healed and that's true for you too on the cross Jesus became your sin all of it he became your selfishness he became your compromised integrity he became your broken promises he became your marital unfaithfulness he became all those things that you have hidden and lied about God laid those things upon him in fact when I was a kid I learned it to think of your your sin like this think of your sin imagine this bible represented your sin so that no matter how close this is you this is your sin so that no matter how close you try to get to God up here there's something that's always keeping you separated from God you can never really bridge that gap between him Paul says God made him who knew no sin to become sin for us the punishment for our sin was laid upon him and by his stripes I'm healed so that when Jesus died for my sin he put it away forever so there's nothing left between me and God and now that way has been made open so that all the sin and all the things that kept me from the presence and peace of God are gone for that grave forever I want you to think for a moment about your worst sin I want you to think about your worst mistake it was placed upon Jesus and he was punished for you the penalty for our sin is death Jesus the perfect and innocent son of God was killed for your sin then his dead body got placed in a grave and three days later the body of Jesus walked out but your sin stayed there and there your sin remains buried in the deepest sea I love how Corey ten boom the holocaust survivor I love how she always said it God put our sin in the deepest parts of the deepest sea and then he put up a sign that said no fishing allowed that's what he offers to you if you choose it you have to choose it one of the old testament pictures of the coming Messiah was the yearly sacrifice that each Jewish family was required to participate in each year the father of every family would bring a lamb a perfect unblemished lamb and he would lay that lamb on the altar and then he would lay his hand on the head of that lamb and he would begin to confess the sins of the family that year and as he did that as he confessed those sins the priest the Jewish priest would slit the throat of the lamb the picture was clear the lamb was dying in the place of the family for the sins that they had committed it was all a picture of the coming Messiah and this is what we now do with Jesus he has died on the cross for sin but we have to place our hand of faith on his head saying I receive you as mine and y'all it's not just forgiveness and a new perspective that we receive Paul was changed when you trust Christ the power of the resurrection the power that brought Jesus's dead body out of the grave actually comes into you in Christ the murderer becomes the lover the racist becomes the humble servant the cheating husband becomes the faithful father the addict becomes the trusted friend Paul says by the grace of God I now am what I am now I'm not what I used to be God changed me I didn't just have a personality adjustment I didn't read a book I had the power of Jesus come into me and that's because God made Jesus who knew no sin to become my sin that I might become the righteousness of God in him and now in him I'm a new creation and that means old things are passed away and behold all things are become new friend that can be true for you also today today number three because he lives death has no more state in verse 55 Paul says that because of the resurrection death is swallowed up in victory then Paul proclaims whole grave where's your victory all death where is your sting the sting of death y'all is its permanence when you bury somebody that you love you feel like you'll never see that person again but their life is over and they're gone forever but see Christ has taken that sting away on the cross Jesus took the curse of death into himself so that now when we or a loved one enter into death it's not permanent it's just a transition and I don't have to be afraid of it anymore so how are you going to live in light of the truth that our savior lives don't forget you can re-listen to today's teaching or anything from our entire sermon catalog free of charge at all thanks to the generosity of our gospel partners pastor jd we're really excited to offer this latest resource the gospel flip book to our summit life family but tell us what is so special about it you know molly years ago this old preacher named d martin lloyd jones said the secret to longevity in the christian faith is driving the gospel deep in your heart right he was actually talking about the parable of the seeds and he said you know there's some seeds that spring up quickly and he's like why does why does some gospel seeds spring up quickly but when the sun comes out or the the weeds of materialism or persecution grow around it why does some seed die and when some seeds survive and he said the difference is some seed is driven deep into the soil and some seed stays on the surface so what we've done is we've provided a resource that will help you drive those gospel seeds down deep it's a gospel flip book that is organized around matthew mark luke and john that it's like a set of flash cards that go along with your reading of the gospels it gives you what i'm going to say is a revolutionary thought it's going to couple it with a key verse a key insight some information about some chapters in the gospel that you're reading and a quiet time plan you'll be amazed how much deeper the gospel is in your heart and how much more it's shaped how you think and how you talk and how you act we would love to partner with you in this way if you'll reach out to us with a gift then we would love to to give you this tool you can reach out to us at the gospel flip book is as practical as anything we've ever offered to our listeners think of it like a set of flash cards meant to help you remember all that you're unpacking and what better time to focus on the gospels than right now easter season to receive your copy give a gift by calling 866-335-5220 or by visiting today your support is essential to our mission and we are so grateful for every contribution i'm molly vidovich reminding you to join us tomorrow as pastor jd greer brings us to the conclusion of our easter message called because he lives right here on summit life today's program was produced and sponsored by jd greer ministries
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-06 10:55:10 / 2023-04-06 11:05:07 / 10

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