The Resurrected Life

Easter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Hook

Of all of the things we look at, the hardest things to see are those which are familiar. We can’t see it because it’s “supposed” to be there. We forget to pay attention, to re-appreciate and rediscover. The older I get, the more I see how important it was when my dad would play with me as a kid, or that my mom made us dinner. And the same with my wife, all that she does with the kids and in the house, not to mention her job. We become blind to the familiar, and the familiar loses its meaning.
Sometimes in order to see something again you have to look at the same thing from a different perspective. I see how much my parents did for me because now I see them through the lens of being a parent myself. On this day, resurrection day, where we go to church, hear a message and go eat ham. It’s familiar. And many of us are blind to it. Perhaps we need to see again, but differently.
Will you join me in prayer
***Pray***
In order to see the resurrection again I want to read a quote that will get us thinking.
‘Whether or not Jesus physically came back to life isn’t important. What matters is that He lives on in our hearts and we can make the world a better place.’” (Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side, 123)
Natasha Crain, a christian writer and speaker, recalls the time a pastor said this in a sermon on easter. I imagine most of us can identify the problem was this quote… the resurrection does matter, contrary to what this pastor said.
Today I want to ask a question that many of us take for granted: Why? Why does the resurrection matter? Let me illustrate the tension for you.
Imagine you are talking with a co-worker about new pictures taken by the James Webb telescope. Like this one: “Webb’s powerful infrared eye captures never-before-seen detail of the remnants of a massive exploded star.” Posted just this Friday. Breathtaking, beautiful. The conversations shifts to God. You might say God made what we see in the image, but your friend says, “that’s the great thing about religion. We can disagree about ideas and discuss our various upbringings, but at the end of the day it’s everyone’s personal preference. But science is about facts. We can really know things about our universe with certainty. - like what this picture shows.”
This is a common sentiment in our culture today. It reveals an assumed idea that goes like this:
Slide: Science is about facts, and religion is about personal preference.
How would you respond? If this sentiment is really the case, then what is wrong with what the pastor said? Why don’t we focus on making the world a better place, agree to disagree, love each other, etc. Who can know who is really right anyway? And can someone be “right” about religion?
This assumption brings up a key distinction, that without it, we lose the significance of easter.
Let me illustrate:
Imagine after church you and I went to DQ to grab a blizzard. I inform you, because I love you, that Butterfinger blizzards are the best flavor. And I try to convince you to also buy one. You might decline, saying that some other flavor is best. But if you really search your heart and maybe pray about it, you will see that the Butterfinger blizzard is the best.
What kind of claim is this? As much as it pains me to say it, this claim is a subjective preference.
SLIDE: Subjective: About personal feelings or preferences.
A subjective preference is “true for me” in the sense that others may have a different opinion about the best flavor, and that would be “true for them.” But imagine I said something else about butterfinger ice cream.
Earlier this week we found out that our 8 month old daughter, Addy, had an ear infection. This explains why she was up screaming for two hours last Sunday night! Now imagine if I said to you, “you know, not only is the butterfinger blizzard the best flavor, it also cures ear infections.”
Now hold up. This is a much different claim then before. Before we were talking about favorites, now we’re talking about medicine. When it comes to medicine, I’m sure there are a few people in this room who could reliably tell me “Richard, you are wrong. Butterfinger blizzards do not cure ear infections.”
Now if the first claim about my favorite blizzard is subjective, what is the claim about it being a medicine? That is what is called an “objective” claim.
SLIDE: Objective: About reality, it is true or false for everyone.
In this case, my claim about Butterfinger ice cream is objectively false, and here’s the key, regardless of whether I believe it or not. And a doctor claiming, “butterfinger ice cream does not cure ear infections” is objectively true. Why? Because it matches reality.
Let’s try an exercise that Brett Kunkle, founder of Maven ministries, has in his curriculum:
Are the following statements objective or subjective claims:
That guy’s shirt is red
Red is the best color
Two plus two equals four
Tropical island vacations are the best
Atoms consist of protons, neutrons, and electrons
Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God
Jesus rose from the dead
The first five were easy, some are claims about facts and others are preferences. But what about the last two? Now we get a bit uncomfortable in our seats, even Christians. We see just how deep the sentiment goes “science is about facts, and religion is personal preference.”
TRANS: In our passage this morning, the apostle Paul directly challenges this sentiment. He does this by inviting us to look at history. Yes, history. Like a cold-case detective digging up the facts to determine what happened, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 verse 3 begins to share the facts about Jesus.

Book

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.

In this passage there are a number of facts that even skeptics believe occured:
- Jesus died
- Jesus was buried
- The disciples claimed to have witnessed the risen Jesus
- Over 500 claimed to have witnessed the risen Jesus
- And Paul (a persecutor of the church) became a christian.
Notice a common theme among this list: these are not “personal religious beliefs or Preferences.” They are things that happened in history. In other words, these are objective claims, not subjective.
Now, is the claim “Jesus rose from the dead” subjective opinion, or an objective reality? Pay attention to how Paul describes the events surrounding Jesus crucifixion in this passage. He does not say “we prayed and we really believed it happened.” He does not say “we went to a conference and had a spiritual high and that confirmed it to us.” No. Paul is not talking about his feelings or preferences. Paul claimed, he died, he was buried, he rose from the dead, hundreds of people saw him. And Paul, who had every reason to keep persecuting Christians, became a persecuted Christian himself! Remember, he was beheaded for what he believed, that he SAW the risen Jesus.
Make no mistake, when we proclaim on Easter “Jesus is alive,” we are not claiming “Jesus is my favorite” or “Jesus is the best flavor of religion.” No. Jesus is alive, he rose from the dead, whether you believe it or not. This is an objective reality that we must all either accept, or reject.
It claims to be history. It claims to be giving facts, and the history that follows immediately and directly out of it is certainly true history and not allegory.
Great Doctrines of the Bible (1), 134
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
This might sound harsh. “Richard, are you saying that other people are wrong?” Let me ask you this, is the Dr. “harsh” if they correct me that butterfinger blizzards do not in fact cure ear infections? No! They are loving enough to tell me the what? Truth. In the same way, this is what we are saying about Jesus.
In the same way that history teaches about the conquests of Alexander the Great, or about the Roman Emperor Nero, the resurrection of Jesus as a fact of history beyond any reasonable doubt. Some doubt this, to be sure, but I have found that such doubts are doubts of the will. It goes like this, “if this is true, then I would have to change my whole life.” Yes. Because facts are stubborn things.
SLIDE: “Jesus rose from the dead” is objectively true. And this reality has implications for you.
In fact, the resurrection of Jesus challenges us no matter where we sit this morning. As we shall see, Paul transitions to show resurrection implications in each of us. But before we walk through those three, I want to discuss the two different kinds of resurrections that every believer in Jesus will experience.
There is an *already* and a *not yet* resurrection.
What do I mean? Let us start with the already resurrection.
Already -
The “Already” resurrection happens at the moment of conversion:
Romans 6:4 ESV
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
This new life comes as a free gift, as being brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. The gift of grace and mercy is upon us because of Jesus Christ. But there is another resurrection that is promised to believers that happens right now.
Romans 8:9–11 ESV
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
The Spirit resurrects our bodies. Some might be thinking, “sure doesn’t seem like I have a new body.” That’s not what Paul is saying. In the context, Paul is showing how apart from the Holy Spirit, Christians are unable to obey God in their own power. Romans 7 teaches that in our own power, we will be frustrated by our inability to do the good we say we will do, and find ourselves continue to fail. Paul calls this the “body of death.” (7:24) When Paul claims that the Spirit brings life to our body, he means God will give us supernatural power to obey. This explains why so many christians struggle with sin — they are not walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, but instead are trying to live the Christian life apart from God’s power. (When I put it like that, it’s hard to imagine any other outcome other than failure.)
The cure is the work of God’s Spirit in us. He enables us to be transformed from the inside out, which leads to obedience, faithfulness, and all kinds of joy that comes from God.
“As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with inexpressible delight of love.” - St. Benedict.
This is the “already” resurrection. God’s power to bring life to our sinful bodies.
Second,
Not yet -
The “not yet” resurrection is the basis for much of Paul’s argument in this passage. Let us read together how the future resurrection must change our perspective, our beliefs, and our actions today.
TRANS: Paul addresses three audiences, or groups of people, from verses 12-58. As we go through these, I want you to ask yourself, “what group do I belong to? And how am I being challenged today?” We won’t read the whole passage, but selections that highlight how the resurrection impacts each of these groups.

LOOK: Three Audiences

SLIDE: Audience 1: the doubters.
Those who say “there is no afterlife” or “there is no resurrection.” Watch what Paul says to challenge these ideas:
In verse 12:

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 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. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.

Again, this underscores that the followers of Christ believed this happened, it wasn’t some sort of personal religious opinion. So he plays a thought experiment: namely, “If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, how does that affect us?” Well. A lot. His preaching and our faith is in vain and he’s misrepresenting God.
And if the point hasn’t been clear enough, Paul continues...

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

In other words, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, literally not some symbolic or figurative sense, people should feel bad for how stupid and gullible we are. And further, we are without hope because we are still dead in our sins.
But, Paul goes on. And he essentially makes this challenge:
SLIDE: Challenge: Face the facts
1 Corinthians 15:20–23 ESV
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Christ was raised, in history, and he is the example of what will happen to all Christians at the end of time. In the end, who’s side will you be on?
Consider history, face the facts align yourself with the truth, or in other words, repent, and come home to Christ.
TRANS: There are those who need to face the facts, and there are those that already know the facts, but aren’t acting like it. This is Paul’s second audience
SLIDE: Audience 2: the Drunks
Turn with me to verse 32
1 Corinthians 15:32–34 (ESV)
32b If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
When Paul ends with “For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame” he is pressing into the fact that his audience knows better. They know the truth, but the truth has not set into their heart.
I think of this group as those who know all the right answers, but go on doing what they want.
In 2010, I worked at a summer camp called Camp Rivercrest. I was a cabin leader, which meant I was in charge of spiritually leading a new group of boys each week. We did bible studies, prayer, worship, listened to sermons, and did all the camp games that all ended in sunburn.
Do you know why I applied at that camp? Not because I sensed God was calling me, not because I wanted to grow in my relationship with God, not because I wanted to spiritually lead over 50 boys over the course of the summer. No. I applied because… I was sick of working at Pizza Hut, and a few of my friends had applied.
I was spiritually drunk. I knew the answers, I had done the church thing more than most people because my dad was (and still is) a pastor. I did worship team, I went to every church event, missions trips, dare to share in Lincoln like 7 times… but my life was mine. I had my plans, my dreams, and God was there but taking a back seat. I was a professional at looking the part, while on the inside knowing that my agenda was above God’s.
But during that Summer, everything changed. I started to see God work through me, I started to see God answer prayer, I started to see kids come to Christ, I started to want to read the Bible, I started to want to talk about God, I started to want to be a disciple of Christ. That summer I changed my major from business to ministry, and here I am today. That summer God woke me up. I wanted Jesus to be my savior and not my Lord. That summer I started letting Him lead my life.
Some of you might be in that same boat. Some of you are spiritually drunk. You know the answers, and that’s why it’s so hard to tell that you’re not a disciple! But I trust that the Spirit of God, in the same way that he revealed to me that I was spiritually drunk, that he can do the same for you…
- You might be spiritually drunk if you think of God as their “fire insurance” but have no desire for Jesus to be your King.
- You might be spiritually drunk if you drop your kids off at church because “they need it,” but have no desire to live it yourself.
- You might be spiritually drunk if only going to church on Christmas and easter is good enough for you.
- You might be spiritually drunk if you are more concerned about managing your image, reputation, or persona than admitting you are a mess… because that might mess up your aforementioned image.
- You might be spiritually drunk if riches in this life are more enticing than glory in the next.
I wrestled with including this section of the sermon, because I know what I’m doing. Some of you haven’t been to church in a while, some of you have been really wrestling with God, some of you have been in a lot of pain and are trying to drown that out (maybe with not metaphorical alcohol if you know what I mean). So take this challenge as urgent, but gentle. Sometimes someone has to point out the way home or you will never see it.
Here is Paul’s challenge to the spiritually drunk:
SLIDE: Challenge: Wake Up
Wake up because life is waiting, wake up because God heals the broken, wake up because God has a purpose for your life that is satisfying, wake up because God is not done with you. Wake up because the “Christianity” you’ve experienced hasn’t been exactly “abundant life overflowing”… maybe that’s because following Jesus is more than just knowing the right answers.
Jesus loves you, he paid for your sins, and he wants a relationship with you. He’s not the answer to your homework, he’s the answer to your life.
TRANS: And speaking of life, there’s a third group.
SLIDE: Audience 3: The drained.
This group are those who believe, those who are faithfully following Jesus, but are tired.
1 Corinthians 15:51–58 (ESV)
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hold fast to your hope, because reward for your faithfulness will be there even when you struggle, even when you are tired. It is there. Keep going in God’s strength.
So the challenge to those who are tired:
SLIDE: Challenge: Look ahead
Look ahead to glory, where your faithfulness will not have been wasted. Where God sees your obedience and God heard every prayer. Look ahead when in the world you have trouble, when evil seems to have no end and there is no justice. Look ahead. When death is swallowed up and God the judge establishes his kingdom in the new heavens and new earth, and we will experience all goodness, all joy, all love, and all truth in God’s presence forever and ever.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
TRANS: what group do you belong to? The doubter, the drunk, or the drained? And ask yourself, what is God saying to me this morning?
Remember The pastor who said, “Whether or not Jesus physically came back to life isn’t important. What matters is that He lives on in our hearts and we can make the world a better place.’”
Well, to Paul, without Jesus coming back to life in history, in reality, we are without hope. And we truthfully have no binding reason to make the world a better place. But because Jesus rose from the dead, that changed history.
The disciples were radically changed because they SAW the resurrected Jesus, and they experienced the resurrected life. Their courage and their faithfulness carried that message of hope to the world, and we carry that same message of hope to a dark world. Look ahead because that light, that hope, gives strength to your soul today. It gives perspective to your choices, it gives perseverance to the weary, it comforts the hurt, it motivates faithfulness, and it fuels our mission here on earth: To go. Be transformed. And tell your neighbors that He. Is. Risen.
Pray
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