The most burning question that mankind has to face is this one: Is there anything after death? There are a number of opinions:
- there is nothing. We live hard and fast and then it’s over
- we are “recycled” and eventually absorbed into the Universe
- some even believe we can move to an extra-terrestrial existence (Heaven’s Gate)
- others believe there is life beyond the grave.
We gather as those who affirm that there is life beyond the grave. But the reason we make this affirmation is not because of the persuasive arguments of some mesmerizing guru. We believe because of the historical event of Christ’s resurrection.
This morning I take you to 1 Corinthians 15, the great resurrection chapter of the Bible, to see the implications of our belief.
- First we see the reality of the resurrection. (Paul reminds us that the resurrection was witnessed by many)
- Then he tells us of the importance of the resurrection: if there is no resurrection then Jesus could not have been raised . . . . but He was. If there is no resurrection then we are wasting our time in worship. If there is no resurrection then we have not been forgiven for our sins. If there is no resurrection then we have no hope of being reunited with loved ones. If there is no resurrection then our efforts to live sacrificially are foolish. The resurrection is the cornerstone of our belief.
- Then Paul tells us of the Hope that results from the resurrection. Paul says that since Christ was raised we know that we can be raised too. What will the resurrection body be like? Well it’s a lot like when you plant a seed in the ground. What results from the seed is something far more magnificent than anyone could have every imagined from looking at the seed. Our present bodies are the seed that will be planted.
- Finally, Paul shows us the implications of the resurrection and that’s where I want to focus our study.
We Are to Be Rooted . . . Steadfast
Paul tells us to be steadfast. The word means to have deep roots, a firm foundation. It means to be securely anchored.
Max Lucado in his book, SIX HOURS ONE FRIDAY talks about having his houseboat in Florida at a time of a hurricane. He wanted to protect the boat but didn’t know what to do. He talked to some experienced seamen and they told him to “anchor deep”. To tie the boat to trees and the dock would only result in the boat being ripped apart. He needed to set down four anchors and hope for the best.
It’s good advice. It’s biblical advice. My concern is that many in the church are anchoring shallow. They are anchoring their lives on an experience, a personality, their own efforts or a number of other shallow anchors. They will eventually leave them vulnerable.
What does it mean to anchor deep or have a firm foundation.
A firm foundation is one built on Christ
1 Cor. 3:11 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ
Even though most would give this verse a hearty “Amen” we have to be careful. There are many today who say they “believe in Jesus”. Our follow-up question to such a statement should always be: “Who is your Jesus?” The answers may surprise you.
- Some view Jesus as a Super-man. He is the pinnacle of what man can be if he works hard enough. Jesus is their inspiration.
- Some see Jesus as a Genie. Jesus is the one who gets them the things they want. Jesus is their servant.
- Some see Jesus as the Point-Man for their social agenda. To these people Jesus is their example.
The Biblical Jesus is: God become man who came to earth to redeem His sinful creation. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death in our place, and rose victorious from the dead. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
To make him our foundation means to place our hopes of eternity on Him. It means to give up notions of saving ourselves. It means recognizing that we can never be “good enough”. It means resting on His efforts. It means being willing to accept His direction in our lives. This is what it means to anchor on Christ.
A firm foundation is one built on the Word of God.
Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Once again there are hearty “Amens” but we must be cautious.
WHAT IT DOES NOT MEAN
First, building on the Word of God does not mean quoting more Bible verses. Some people seem to feel that as long as they have a Bible verse for something they are o.k. But, you can prove ANYTHING by using the Bible. Here are some examples:
- You could argue FOR adultery because David committed adultery and was called “a man after God’s heart.
- You could argue FOR drunkenness since Noah got drunk and the only condemnation was because his sons did not cover him up.
- David Koresh of the Branch Davidian Cult built his group expounding the Seven Seals of Revelation.
- The “Heaven’s Gate” group recruited members by using John 3:3 the command to be “born again”. Their leader used this to show we need to be transformed to a different state of existence.
Also, building on the Word of God does not mean we spurn the teaching of men. Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t want to hear theology I just want to hear about Jesus!”? These people sound spiritual but have no idea what they are talking about.
The Bible encourages us to learn from those who have gone before us. We need to be alert to the heresies of the past (which are coming back today); we need to listen to the solid teachers and saints. Don’t cut yourselves off from the past or the gifted teachers of the present.
Some people don’t understand that every time they read a Study note in their Bible, every time they listen to a song, hear a preacher, read a book, listen to a tape or talk to another believer . . . they are hearing that person’s “theology”. Theology is simply our “understanding of God”. The fact is, even as you listen to secular people you are hearing their “theology”. When you tell me that you don’t want to hear theology but Jesus, you are sharing your “theology” with me. Don’t fall for this nonsense my friends. Find GOOD teachers and then check them by the Word of God.
WHAT IT DOES MEAN
- it means to study the Bible carefully always checking the intended meaning of the author and not settling for “what it means to me”.
- it means to form our opinions and beliefs FROM our reading of the Scripture and not reading the Scripture to validate our beliefs.
- it means remaining open to change if we are convinced by the clear teaching of God’s Word.
- it means choosing to do what the Bible commands even when the whole world tells us to do something else.
- it means carefully checking our interpretations and then taking God at His Word.
We are to Be Vigilant
Paul tells us to be immovable. This means to keep oneself from being moved!
In Homer’s Illiad . . . we read the story of the nine year war between Greeks and inhabitants of Troy. After nine years of futility Odysseus came up with a plan. He suggest they build a giant horse and put 100 of best fighting men into and leave it outside the city.
The residents of Troy looked out and saw the big horse and the Greeks heading to their ships to travel home (supposedly). The Trojans concluded it was a peace offering to the Goddess Athena. They were warned by a priest, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” but they brought the horse into the city anyhow. After a party the residents slept. While they slept the 100 men left the horse signaled the ships and they overran the city.
We must also beware of the world’s decoys.
There are two people who mean a lot to me. They are the people who served as my youth Pastor and Minister when I was a teenager. They were both largely responsible for my coming to faith in Christ.
Ron, our youth Pastor left our church and went to live with a Christian community that emphasized experience. Soon the experience lost its luster. He worked for the Chicago Public library. Then he bought a bookstore that specialized in Science fiction and occult type books. He became involved in the Gay community and died of AIDS a year or so ago.
Roger, my Pastor, was vital to my developing as a preacher. His help and counsel was invaluable. He left our church and I served my internship in his new location. He preached the sermon at my ordination service. He later became my boss as I became his Associate Pastor. We had more fun than preachers are supposed to have. Roger conducted my wedding. After I came to La Harpe I learned that Roger was leaving his church to go into a counseling ministry. It was sometime later that I learned why. He was having an affair with one of the women of the church. He had filed for divorce and was going to marry this woman (who was also married at the time).
Now I don’t know how to explain these things but one thing I do know . . . if it could happen to them, it could happen to me. And I think it could happen to you. Satan wants nothing more than to derail us in our Christian life. We must remain vigilant. We must continue in the Word of God. We must remain accountable to Christian friends. We must keep alert.
We are to Be Active
Paul tells us that we are to “be constantly abounding in the work of the Lord.” If our Christianity is nothing more than words . . . it is no Christianity. Faith means not only being willing to trust Christ for our salvation . . . it means trusting Him to direct our lives as well.
The Bible gives us several active jobs to do:
- Preach the Gospel
- Care for widows and orphans
- Minister to the sick
- Proclaim the truth
- Be reconcilers (forgive)
- Encourage One Another
- Be good citizens
- Serve Him wherever we are
One of the implications of the resurrection is to take our changed perspective into our jobs, our schools, our homes and our friendships. Christianity is practical not theoretical.
And why do we do these things? Because, since Jesus has risen from the grave we know that our labor is not for nothing. When we serve the Lord we are “laying up for ourselves treasures in Heaven.” We are not wasting our time when we care for others; when we share our faith; when we absorb the pain of past hurts to forgive; when we give of our selves and our resources to minister in His name. No, we are not wasting our time . . . we are investing it.
No sacrifice will go unnoticed. No wrong will go without vindication. No slander against us will be ignored. No investment in obedience will be wasted. We KNOW that our labor is not in vain. How do we know . . . .because there is a life beyond this one. Jesus has been there and says he will bring us there too.
Do you believe in life after death? Do you see that the reality of Christ’s resurrection is key to our hope for eternity? Do you understand why He came in the first place? Do you also understand that He calls you to a decision? You must decide whether you will entrust your life and eternity to this man who rose from the dead. Are you willing to make that decision now?
Fellow Believer what area of your life needs the most attention this Easter day:
Are you firmly grounded in the Lord and in the Word of God? Are you trusting the Christ of the Scriptures or are you fashioning a Christ of your own imagination? Are you letting Scripture determine your beliefs or are you using scripture to support your own ideas?
Are you playing with a Trojan Horse? Are you letting your guard down? Be strong. The glorious truths of Easter is worth guarding with diligence
Is your faith a mere assent to a statement of faith or is it a faith that says I trust you enough to do as you did. Is your faith affecting your job, your parenting, your service, you relationship with those you disagree with, the way you talk about others? Are you abounding in the work of the Lord or are you all talk?
You see, the real Easter message does not end after today . . . . . it begins