There is a day of judgment ahead for each one of us. God has set the date.
He is the appointed judge. So how can we be ready? Today on Truth for Life, we'll hear key evidence for the truth of the gospel and find out how we can be prepared to face final judgment.
Alistair Begg is teaching from the book of Acts chapter 17, we're in verses 30 through 34. Those of you who have observed the films recently, The Remains of the Day or Shadowlands in which Sir Anthony Hopkins portrays C.S. Lewis will have been intrigued by the immensity of his acting ability. He gave an interview, and in the course of the interview being asked about the various roles that he's played and being asked about the nature of life, Hopkins said, I love life because what more is there? Nothing lasts, really. There's going to be darkness and it's all over. Who says? You see, that is a faith statement. The individual who makes that statement is placing their faith and trust in the notion that they know everything within their box and that anything outside of their box is impossible, therefore cannot or did not happen. So it is not that the Christian lives in the realm of faith and the non-Christian or the unbeliever lives in the realm of scientific rationalism, both live in the realm of faith. It is a faith statement by Hopkins to say, at the end there is darkness and nothing more. You want to put your faith in that?
Go ahead. I'm suggesting to you this morning that there is far more ground, far more validity, far more substantiated evidence for placing our faith in what Paul here proclaims as living proof that Jesus is alive from the dead. So you come on the scene of the resurrection, ask yourself the question, what have we got?
Now, I don't have time to go through it all this morning, but let me just tell you this. We've got two key evidential pieces. Number one, we have an empty tomb.
That is not in question. Whatever the explanation people give, whether it is orthodox or liberal or crazy, they are all trying to describe a fact. The fact being that the tomb was empty.
Was the tale of the empty tomb a carefully crafted tale? In other words, are these people right? Did the people 30 years after the death of Jesus sit down and say, why don't we think up a deal and we'll have a resurrected Jesus?
Don't you think that would be good? This is 30 or 40 years after it's gone by. That's what they're asking us to believe. They're asking us to believe then that they all sat down and they crafted this story that Jesus was risen from the dead. Although he never rose from the dead, they know that, you see.
So they sit down and they say, well, what do you think we ought to do? We say, well, let's have somebody coming from the tomb saying, hey, Jesus is alive. He's not in the tomb.
Great idea. So who do they have coming from the tomb? In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Who comes from the tomb? Ladies come from the tomb. That's not a smart move if you're making it up.
And I'll tell you why. Because in Jewish law, the testimony of a woman was inadmissible as evidence. Therefore, if you were making up a story about the resurrection, you'd have to be dafter than a brush to begin with the notion that four women brought the news of the resurrection.
You're not going to make that kind of crazy mistake. If you're making it up, you're going to start with men because they won't listen to the testimony of a woman to begin with. If the body was still in the tomb, why did they invent a story saying the disciples stole it? Clearly the body wasn't in the tomb. It's hard to imagine that the disciples who had just hours before run away to save their lives.
We're now preaching the resurrection on the basis of the beaten bloodied body of Jesus, which they had dragged somewhere behind a hedge and hidden it. You've got to credit these men with a little more than this. You've got to credit their fear as being more realistic than this. I mean, they were scared. They weren't hanging around.
Leave it to the ladies to hang around. Those guys were history. Gone. Vanished behind closed doors. Now they're out. They hit the streets. Jesus is alive.
Not really. We got him hidden behind a hedge, but Jesus is alive. I love John's statement. He said, you know, men may be prepared to die for a conviction.
They're not going to die for a concoction. So you've got point one, you've got the empty tomb. And then secondly, you've got his appearances.
Can't spend long on this either. But Acts chapter one, first Corinthians 15 chronicles for us the occasions when Jesus appeared after his resurrection. He appeared to them giving many convincing proofs that he was alive. Acts chapter one verse three. He appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
On one occasion while he was eating with them, he gave them this command. This wasn't some kind of extraterrestrial floating nonsense. This was real. This was looking in the eyes.
This was touching, handling, tasting, eating, walking, caring, answering, making breakfast, hanging out, doing stuff together, kind of encounters. This wasn't weeping statues, you know. Oh, the statue was weeping, you know. Oh, I think Jesus was here.
That's the way people want to describe it for us. All these crazy Christians, they got this idea that Jesus, he came back or something. No, that's not what's being said. First of all, this is a doctor who wrote this, Dr. Luke, usually with an idea for detail, usually with a scientific mind. And he says, listen, he appeared. Now, if he hadn't appeared, people could have stood up and said, don't write that stuff down. You know that's a bunch of rubbish. He stated it unchallenged. Now, the skeptic, and maybe some this morning, I hope there are some skeptics here this morning.
He might as well be here or somewhere else. But the skeptic says, well, okay, there's an empty tomb and there's a bunch of people claiming they saw him. I think they all hallucinated. I think they all kind of were smoking something or doing something simultaneously that they all saw this event.
That won't wash. The idea of hallucination demands far more than credibility can sustain in terms of the actual event. But beyond that, the fatal flaw in that idea is that a bodily resurrection, far from being top of the list of these people, was even the last thing on their minds.
Now, if you doubt that, you'll need to go back and read the evidence. For example, when the women bring the report of the empty tomb, the disciples, remember these big tough guys, the real ones following Jesus, believing everything. The disciples in Luke chapter 24, tell the women essentially you're off your rocker. Verse 11, Luke 24, they did not believe the women because their words seemed to them like nonsense. So in other words, they weren't pre-programmed to expect a resurrection. Indeed, when the people came and said, you know what, we figured there's been a resurrection, the people said, no, you've got to be absolutely wrong.
So they're not perfect for hallucinations. Nor was Thomas, little skeptic that he was. Hey Thomas, guess what happened? You went out, Jesus came.
Thomas goes, get out of here. He didn't come. They say, yeah, he came. He said, I'll tell you straight up, unless I put my fingers in the holes in his hands and put my hand in his sight, I flat out refuse to believe that Jesus showed up. So the idea that the disciples were all sitting around waiting to have some kind of hallucinatory trip in order to invent the resurrection simply doesn't work.
Let me put it to you this morning. The only possible plausible explanation is that the facts of the New Testament documents are true and that the reason men and women do not want to believe the facts as we're about to see is because to accept the fact of a risen Christ means I need to deal with him, means that he may deal with me. Therefore deciding that I would rather not have that encounter, I would rather far more believe anything which helps me to the conclusion that Christ is dead and gone and that what is happening at best is that he's living on in the hearts or if you like in the minds of his followers. R. T. France, the New Testament scholar from Oxford in England says, it is not that the evidence is inadequate.
It could hardly be better. It is simply that for some people no evidence could ever be enough to justify the radical rethink of their whole worldview which Jesus demands. That's it. That's it. Be honest, Mr. Agnostic and admit it.
Be honest and admit it. That's it. It is not inadequate evidence. It is unpalatable evidence. It is evidence that challenges my whole view of the world. It is evidence which challenges my business dealings. It is evidence which challenges my ambitions. It is evidence which challenges my relationships. It is going to make me completely rethink my world and I am unprepared to rethink my world. And Paul says to them, he has established proof.
I've taken far longer on that than I will on the other two and deliberately so. The proof he has given, then notice the day he has set. Verse 31, he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice.
We are not to be surprised by this. The necessity of judgment and accountability is written into the framework of life. Every school boy and school girl that ever takes a test knows that. Every examination that we undergo understands that. Every time you roll a putt towards that tiny ever diminishing hole in the middle of the green, you understand accountability. It's either sunk or it's on the green.
It's not half sunk. And that is exactly what Paul says is going to happen here. Just in the same way as we take our final examinations in high school, so there is an examination day which God has set. Why is it so strange that a created being should have to give an account of his life to his creator?
It's not very difficult to understand at all. If God made the heaven and the earth and he made you and me, he's got a right to pull us up one day and say, hey guy, how's it going? I want to talk to you about a few things. I made you, I made the world. I made enough evidence in my world for you to know that I exist. I made the continental divide so the rivers flow the right way into the oceans. I established everything perfectly.
There is a cohesion and an order to it all. I allowed you to take a tiny child and hold it in your hands and marvel at the immensity of my creation. There is enough there for me to make myself plain to you as a moral being, but you turned your back on me and then I sent my son to you and I sent my prophets to you and I sent my preachers to you and I had them tell you, listen, Jesus is the answer to life. Jesus is the provision for sin.
Jesus is the way of the future and you turned your back on them. Now sit here for a moment because I want to go over your report card with you. And when I got an F on math, I got an F on math. The teacher gave me it, but I got it.
Oh, how successfully did I get it? It was all my contribution there in black and white for all to see, flunked. Now when she wrote out of it, I can't blame her.
She simply acknowledged what I did. And if one day I stand before God and he says, I gave you the opportunity Easter Sunday morning to understand the truth of the Bible and commit your life to my son and you walked out the door and you said, you can keep it. You can have it.
I don't want my life rearranged. Then on that day you will have nothing to say. I will have nothing to say. I will be struck dumb in his presence and that day is definite. God has set the day. He has not disclosed when the day is, but he has named the judge and the judge will be Jesus. It is a definite day. It is a universal day.
It will cover the whole world. There will be nobody missing from this examination. It is a fair day for he will judge the world, we're told, with justice. There will be no possibility of a miscarriage of justice when Jesus Christ presides at the bench.
The nature of God's judgment will be to underline the decision we have made about him. It is a definite day. It is a universal day. It is a fair day and it is a final day. It is appointed unto man once to die and after this comes judgment and there are no resits.
There are no retakes. There are no postponements. Now how could anybody say this with such conviction? That's what Paul says. He has given us proof of the fact that there is a day.
He wants us to face this day. I spoke at the end of the first service with a lady who was formerly a member of our congregation. She moved away to Indiana. She came back this weekend. It could have been such a joyful occasion, but she came back in the dreadful sadness of having had her daughter-in-law pass away in her sleep two nights ago, age 37. And for those of us who sit here, having had our recent examination of the doctor and all our tests are fine and our bank balance is fine and our job is fine and our kids are fine and everything's fine.
Listen dear friend, listen clearly. In a moment, you or I may be in eternity. In a millisecond, in the time that it takes to hit a ball with a three wood, gone, eternity. And as we go flying into eternity, we're going to remember, that guy said there was a day. Finally, because he has given proof and because he has said a day, he has issued a command. A command, would you?
Not a suggestion, a veritable command. After all, he is Lord and King. Kings are able to make commands. And his command is that men and women should repent. Should repent. That means to do an about turn. Why would I do an about turn? Because the Bible says you're going the wrong direction. Because the Bible says there's a broad way that has heaven at the end of it that's full of people, but it's going to hell actually.
And there's a narrow road that leads to life and there's only a few people go on it. And unless we repent, we continue on the wrong road. Or you say, I don't think I have anything to repent of. I really haven't done very much wrong.
I'm a fairly good chap and I've done a few things, but not much. Maybe one sin a week or something. Well, that's 52.
I mean, how many sins do you think you have to commit to go to hell? And how old are you? 40? What's 40 times 52?
You know I don't know the answer to that question. What's that? 2,080? So that's 2,080 sins.
You don't want a week at the age of 40, but let's try one a day. And we're moving into calculator realm. You've got the picture. You say, but you know what? I haven't been as bad as somebody else. I mean, really and truly, I'm halfway up the mountainside. You could say that when it comes to goodness, man, I'm on Mount Everest. Not like some of the people in my office. I mean, some of the people in my office, they're at the bottom of the Grand Canyon compared to me. So that makes you feel good.
But guess what the standard is? You have to be able to touch the stars. Can you touch the stars from the top of Mount Everest?
No. You're not a skip closer than the guy who's at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. See what the Bible says is that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And as unpalatable a message as it is for a well-heeled, starch-cuffed, clean-fingernailed congregation on the east side of Cleveland this morning, the prostitute and skid row last night in Cleveland is in no more of a predicament than you are today as long as you remain in your unbelief.
It takes the same grace to save us. See, because we missed the mark. God gave us a dart board and he gave us darts. We started throwing the darts. We couldn't even hit the board. Never mind the bullseye. We're dropping them on the floor. We're going down to the archery center near our youth center and we're firing up the arrows and they're going all over the place.
They don't hit the board. That's what sin is. God has established a standard. We try for it.
We miss it. So Jesus is saying, you got to repent. Well, let me wrap it up by saying this. Repentance means being more than simply sorry for sin because you can be sorry for sin for a number of reasons. Sometimes because your pride is offended or just simply because you were found out, out of a sense of self-pity. To repent, this is the command that is issued.
Ask yourself, have I ever done this? To repent is to get alone with God and say, number one, I've broken your laws. Number two, I've actually rebelled against you.
Number three, it's clear to me that I've hurt you and I've displeased you. I never fully understood that, but I understand it today and I want you to know Lord Jesus that I am willing to turn my back on all of that and to turn and trust in you. You need to understand that Jesus is not interested in compromise. He's not interested in one hand on Jesus and one hand on sin.
It's both hands on Jesus. Jesus is not like the kind of dentist. You go to the dentist and you've got a sore tooth and you're squealing about it so he deals with a sore tooth. He also notices in your mouth that there are four other teeth that are really bad, but he just lets them go because all you wanted was fixed up for the one little problem. No decent dentist will do that. No, no dentist, no enterprising dentist will do that.
No dentist will do that because it would be compromise. You've got a bigger problem here, sir, than you realize. I cannot simply take care of this. I must take care of all of this and some people have tried to come to Jesus Christ on the basis of this. I'd like Jesus to take care of this for me.
I'd like Jesus to be an insurance policy for me. I'd like to know that I'm going to heaven, but I still want to live with my girlfriend. I still want to cheat. I still want to do my thing. I still want to do that, but I just want to have him over here.
No chance, no way, no how. To trust in Jesus Christ means to admit that he is the savior of the sin that I admitted and that he is to be Lord and master over all that I do. Every part of my life coming under his control, all my plans, all my ambitions, all my hopes, all my business life, social life, my study, my sport, my home, my family, my boyfriend, my girlfriend, my husband, my wife. You may trust him as Lord of all these things because he knows what is best. He cares about your wellbeing more than anyone ever could. He is the one who died for your sin and was raised so that we may face that day, not in terror of judgment, but anticipation of hearing him say, well done, good and faithful servant.
You got it? The proof he has given, which underpins the day he has said, which provides the basis for the command he has issued. Each one of us falls short of God's perfect standard and Jesus will one day be our judge. The question is, will you trust him to be your savior as well? We're listening to Alistair beg on Truth for Life.
Keep listening. Alistair will be right back to lead us through a prayer of salvation. The story of the gospel does not end with a distressed or crucified Christ, nor does it end with a resurrected Christ. It ends with an ascended Christ who is Lord and King reigning on high from heaven, awaiting the appointed time for his return. You can find out more about how Jesus is still intervening on our behalf.
When you read the blog titled risen and ascended five ways, Jesus is still working. You'll find it on our website at truthforlife.org slash articles. We also want to recommend something else for you to read.
It's a great supplement to our current series. It's a book titled man of sorrows, King of glory. The book focuses on the unique aspects of Jesus saving work first by exploring his humiliation, what he endured through his suffering and his death on the cross.
Then by focusing on his exaltation that marks his Ascension and his current reign in heaven. This is a book that is filled with many rich insights in this extensive portrait of the Messiah. Request your copy of man of sorrows, King of glory. When you give a donation to Truth for Life, you can give through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate, or you can call us at 888-588-7884. And if you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to us at Truth for Life, P.O.
Box 398,000 Cleveland, Ohio 44139. Now here's Alistair to close. It may be this morning that as a result of a whole bunch of links and chains, you would like to find a way to simply cry out to God from where you're seated. You're not sure just how to form your thoughts or your words. And so I want to pray a prayer and if you would like to make it yours, please do. You don't need to pray this prayer out loud.
You can make it your own just as you are seated there and just pray it in your heart. Lord Jesus Christ, I know that I'm a sinner and I need your forgiveness. Thank you for dying on the cross for me to take away my sin. I'm willing to turn from all that is wrong in my life. I'm willing for you to be first in my life. Now I come to you and give my life to you, my Lord and Savior. Please give your life to me by your spirit and come to live with me forever. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Without a risen Christ, there is no Easter and there's no Christianity. Find out why when you join us tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
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