Always such a joy to sing the songs of resurrection. I look forward to this week. I look forward to the preparation in the Word of God to preach again on the glories of the resurrection. Look forward to singing those songs. And a little bit like Christmas carols, we only get to do this once a year. We need to inject them at other times, they’re so glorious and so triumphant. And while we celebrate the resurrection, we anticipate the celebration of the resurrection, look forward to it with great joy.
There are many in the world who believe that this is the perfect time to assault the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And so, every year around this time efforts are made to discredit the resurrection of Jesus Christ among those who are skeptical. This year, perhaps the most widely spread effort was made by some anti-Christian people who tried to sell the world on the idea that they had actually discovered the Jesus family tomb and that Jesus’ bones were there. They suggested that this discovery, however, should not be at all disturbing to Christians because the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ isn’t really the idea, it’s just that He rose in spirit. That’s all that’s important.
Well, obviously, they are very bad theologians. They prove to be equally bad archeologists and bad journalists. Since it only took a few days, amazingly, a few days after the appearance of the book on the Jesus family tomb and the first showing of the documentary on television, to have the whole thing debunked and all further broadcasts immediately cancelled.
Now are we surprised that an effort by established journalists, archeologists and film makers was so far wrong? Not really. Denying the resurrection has been a long, long war. It started, really, right at the time of the resurrection. But the enemy, Satan, and all who are a part of the kingdom of darkness, understand how critical the resurrection is to the Christian faith. Everything collapses in a heap without it. If there is no resurrection of Jesus Christ, it’s the end of all things Christian. So they know that.
If, on the other hand, Jesus did rise from the dead, then the Christian gospel is true and Jesus is Lord. They get it. They understand that this is not negotiable. This is the cornerstone, this is the foundation piece that holds everything in Christianity together. It is the most essential reality in the Christian faith. If Jesus rose, He is God. If He rose, then the gospel is true. If He did not, it is a hoax and a lie to be lined up with all other false religions in the world, merely opiates to deceived people.
And so, we get ready to duck every year around this time as new efforts come to discredit the resurrection. There’s even a proliferation of television programs about Jesus and articles about Jesus and magazines about Jesus, features in newspapers about Jesus, all trying to ask questions about Jesus as if they weren’t answered in the Bible, giving opportunity to critics and skeptics and unbelievers to reinvent Jesus and, in particular, His resurrection.
To show you how old this is, open your Bible to Matthew chapter 28, Matthew chapter 28. Matthew chapter 28 is still talking about the resurrection. In fact, Matthew 27 has Jesus in the grave, the stone rolled over, the stone sealed, the Roman guard established. You come into chapter 28 and the resurrection takes place. There was a severe earthquake in verse 2. An angel of the Lord descends from heaven, comes rolls the stone away, sits on it, appearing like lightning. His garment as white as snow, “the guards shook for fear of him, became like dead men.”
And the angels in verse 6 say, if you’re looking for Jesus, “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead.” Verse 10, “Don’t be afraid.” Jesus actually says to them, “Go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee and there they shall see Me.” And so in the opening ten verses of Matthew 28 you have the account of the resurrection in all its simplicity and magnificence.
Verse 11 then, “While these women were on their way,” – having heard from the angel and from Jesus, on their way to tell His frightened fearful disciples – “some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.” What do you think those Roman guards told them? They told them what happened. We were on guard, the stone was over the opening, stone was sealed, severe earthquake occurred. An angel rolled the stone away, appeared like lightning, garment white as snow, scared us near to death. We became like dead men. He’s not there. The grave is empty. His grave clothes are lying as if they were still wrapped around His body and His head.
A resurrection happened. That’s what the Romans reported to the chief priests. Verse 11, They told them “all that had happened.” They gave them the true account. Why did they tell the chief priests? Because they were really carrying out a responsibility that came from the leaders of Judaism. The Romans really had not initiated the execution of Jesus. They complied with it to pacify the Jews, in particular Pilate, because he had made so many blunders with the Jews, he was about to lose his position anyway, Caesar would remove him with one more big blunder. And the Jews were so insistent on the execution of Jesus that he complied.
The Roman soldiers, therefore, were sent to guard; really, to carry off this whole endeavor, this whole enterprise which was the wishes of the religious elite. So they reported back to them the truth of the resurrection. Verse 12 says, “When they had assembled with the elders,” – the chief priests who heard this then collected the ruling body of Israel called the Sanhedrin, the elders who ruled, and – “they counseled together.”
What did they decide? They decided not to accept the truth. They decided to deny the resurrection. They decided then to bribe the soldiers. So “they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,” a large sum of money. They bought them off. And they said, instead of saying what really happened, “you are to say His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.” Now just exactly how would you know that if you were asleep? Just a small detail. Shows you the rush to this deception. It’s irrational. And why would Roman soldiers be sleeping when they were expert professionals at doing their duty which was to stay awake and guard whatever they were to guard with severe penalty if they failed in their duty?
They told them to basically perpetrate a bizarre and ridiculous and unbelievable lie. And verse 14, “If this should come to the governor’s ears, we’ll win him over and keep you out of trouble.” Why? Because they could lose – lose their lives if they fell asleep while guarding. The Jews would take care, make sure that didn’t happen since it was their deal anyway. And with this assurance, verse 15, “The soldiers took the money” – they had no interest in the resurrection either – “and did as they had been instructed; they were happy to lie – “and so this story was widely spread among the Jews and is to this day.”
What is the story? That Jesus did not rise from the dead. There was no angel. There was no resurrection. That’s the lie. It was a lie then, and it’s still a lie now. Denials of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, ridiculous explanations trying to do away with the facts of the resurrection have come and gone through the centuries. There are always those bent on destroying Christianity. And if you’re going to destroy Christianity, you have to destroy the resurrection of Jesus Christ. None has ever succeeded and all of them collectively have not succeeded. There has never been an assault on the truth of the resurrection that has left one mark, one blemish, one scar on this glorious reality.
The chain of evidences is linked so unbreakably and so powerfully as – so that it cannot be broken at any point. The evidence of an empty tomb, a heavenly angel rolling a stone, grave clothes lying as if they were still wrapped around the body, witnesses, women, apostles, five hundred at one time in one place. Transformed disciples who once are fearful, running and fleeing in terror when their Lord is arrested and executed, and now they are transformed in proclaiming that He lives, even to the point that it cost them their lives.
The truth of the resurrection has remained unscathed through two thousand years of assaults and it has to. It has to. It is the cornerstone of the Christian gospel. It never can be emphasized too much. Everything hinges on the resurrection. Let me help you to understand that by giving you some very important truths that are affirmed by the resurrection.
Number one, the resurrection authenticates, affirms the truthfulness of the Word of God, the truthfulness of the Word of God. Now turn in your Bible to Acts chapter 2, the first sermon ever preached after the church began, preached by Peter on the very day that the Spirit came and established the church. This is the first sermon. What will be the subject of this first sermon? What is the cornerstone of the Christian faith? What is the foundational truth? None other than the resurrection.
Peter begins this great sermon on the day of Pentecost in chapter 2 of Acts in verse 22. He talks about Jesus of Nazareth, that He was attested by God as Lord and Messiah through miracles and wonders and signs. And then in verse 23 he says He was delivered up “by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” as the primary cause. Men were only the secondary cause. He was then “nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men who put Him to death,” – crucifixion; verse 24, here comes the theme of his sermon – “and God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.”
Peter then launches into this sermon on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God raised Him up. It was not difficult for God to raise Him up because death could not hold Him, because He is Himself life eternal. And then Peter says this, “For David says of Him,” – and he goes back to Psalm 16, back to the Old Testament. And in Psalm 16, David the psalmist was inspired by God to write the following, and Peter rehearses it, starting in verse 25. Quoting from Psalm 16, “I was always beholding the Lord always in my presence; He is at my right hand, that I will not be shaken. ‘Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will abide in hope; because Thou will not abandon my soul in Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; Thou wilt make me full of gladness with Thy presence.”
Interesting. The Psalm basically says that someone is in the presence of the Lord, in the presence of the Lord at His right hand. In the presence of the Lord there is gladness and rejoicing. And then flesh comes in. And then death comes in because Hades is mentioned and decay is mentioned. And then comes life again in verse 28, “Thou hast made known to me the ways of life,” – or the path of life – “Thou wilt make me full of gladness with Thy presence.” Through death back into the presence of God without the soul ever being left in the place of the dead, which is Hades, without the body ever undergoing decay.
Of whom did David write? Well, everybody knew David wasn’t talking about himself because his soul did depart and did not return to this earth and his body went into the grave and decayed. No one has ever claimed that Psalm 16 refers to David. It must refer to someone else. And Peter goes on to explain this Psalm in reference to the Messiah. Verse 29, “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so,” – implied he obviously wasn’t talking about himself, but – “he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne.”
David knew that one of his descendants would be seated upon an everlasting throne. Why? Because God told him that, 2 Samuel chapter 7 verses 12 to 14, God said to him, “I will raise up one of your sons in the future” who will have an everlasting throne. And all the promises I have made to Israel and through Israel to the world will be fulfilled through that one who is to come. David spoke not of himself, he spoke as a prophet of the One who would come to sit on that everlasting throne. David certainly had that in mind when – if you go back to verse 27 – he wrote, “Nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.”
Thy Holy One is a familiar messianic title, a well-known name for Messiah. And Messiah is the One who was in the presence of the Lord in eternity past and returns to the presence of the Lord after the work of His incarnation. David knew of whom He spoke. And so verse 31, Peter says that, “He looked ahead and he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.” He came back in a glorified body and in His Spirit, in His person as one having been raised from the dead. And so, the culmination, verse 32, “This Jesus” – is none other than the one to whom David spoke – “whom God raised up again to which we are all witnesses.”
The Old Testament prophesied that the Holy One, the Messiah, would die but not be abandoned in the place of the dead. His body would go into the grave, but it would never be corrupted. That is prophecy of a resurrection, that He would come from the grave and fulfill all the messianic promises given in the Old Testament and to David of a coming King and an everlasting kingdom. They were all witnesses to this glorious resurrection. And what is the conclusion? The Bible is true. The Word of God is trustworthy. What it said would happen happened.
Turn to Acts 13, Acts 13. You remember when Peter is preaching that sermon on the day of Pentecost, the Jews stumbled over the cross. The idea of a crucified Messiah was a scandal to them, it was a blasphemy to them, it was unacceptable to them. It was folly to them. It was a stumbling block to them. And because they couldn’t understand that the Messiah must suffer, they couldn’t interpret the Psalms and they couldn’t interpret Isaiah 53. They couldn’t understand the pictures of the Old Testament sacrificial system that would be fulfilled in the Messiah. They also, not understanding His death, could not comprehend His resurrection. And so early apostolic preaching was built on the theme that the Messiah had to suffer for sin and rise again as the Scripture said.
In Acts 13 we move to the second great preacher that dominates the book of Acts. The first one is Peter, the second one is Paul, Paul preaching down in verse 30. Verse 29, he talks about Christ taking down from the cross, “laid in a tomb.” And then in verse 30 he says, “But God raised Him from the dead,” – almost verbatim what Peter said in his sermon – “God raised him from the dead,” – now follow – “and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people.”
Again, Peter said, “God raised Him from the dead and we are all witnesses.” Here we are, much later in the book of Acts. Paul says the same thing. “God raised Him from the dead and we are all witnesses.” And verse 32, “We preach to you the good news” – listen – “of the promise made to the fathers,” – the fathers meaning Old Testament saints; we are simply preaching what Old Testament saints knew because it was promised to them; verse 33 gets specific – “that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘Thou art My Son; today I have begotten Thee.’
Second Psalm verse 7 says, “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee,” a prophecy of God giving resurrection life to His Son, a prophecy of the resurrection. Verse 34, “As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’” That’s Isaiah 55:3. The promise of Isaiah 55:3 is that God is going to give to the Messiah everything He promised to David. Well, Isaiah 55 comes after 53. In 53 the Messiah suffers and dies. In 55 He receives all the eschatological promises of God, given through David to Israel and through Israel to the world that will come in the glory of His everlasting kingdom. Therefore, there must be a resurrection.
He will, as the Son of God, as the Son of David receive all the holy and sure mercies and blessings promised to David. Then he goes where Peter went, to Psalm 16, says in another Psalm, “Thou wilt not allow Thy holy One to undergo decay.” And so, from Psalm 2 and Isaiah 55 and Psalm 16 does Paul preach the resurrection. The Scriptures promise the death and resurrection of the Messiah, a suffering servant but a reigning King after a suffering servant, a sacrificial lamb and then a ruling monarch to follow. Resurrection must then take place.
Turn to the twenty-sixth chapter of Acts. This apostolic preaching of the death and resurrection of Christ based on Old Testament Scripture continues. Here we see Paul in his defense before King Agrippa. Acts 22 – 26:22 verse 22, we read this, “I stand” says Paul. I stand, I take my stand “to this day.” This is where I stand now, this is where I’ve always stood, nothing has changed,” as if he’s saying, “This is my permanent position.” Here’s where I stand whether I’m talking about small or great, whether I’m talking to the unimportant and insignificant, or the elite and the substantial. No matter who I am speaking to, I take this stand, I state nothing new. I state “nothing but what the prophets and Moses said was going to take place.” The prophets and Moses. That’s a general term. Moses instead of the word “law.”
Sometimes the Old Testament is referred to as Moses and the prophets, sometimes the Old Testament is referred to the Law and the prophets, such as in Luke 24:25 to 27, when Jesus opens the Law and the prophets and teaches them out of the Law and the prophets “all the things concerning Himself” on the road to Emmaus, talking to those two disciples. The Law and the prophets, Moses and the prophets, a reference to the Old Testament. He says, “I state nothing but what the Old Testament said would come.” And what is it? Verse 23, “That the Messiah was to suffer and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
He will suffer and die and then He will be the Savior and Redeemer who brings light to the world and establishes His glorious and everlasting kingdom. Only can happen if after He has died He rises from the dead. And it’s all based, Paul said, on what the Old Testament says. So the very resurrection of Jesus Christ validates the Old Testament. If Jesus does not rise, you can take the New Testament and throw it away because it tells us He rose and lays out the implications of that resurrection. And you can take the Old Testament and throw that away, too. You can put an end to Christianity right now and you can put an end to Judaism right now if Jesus didn’t rise because the Old Testament can’t be trusted to tell the truth. But Jesus did rise and after two thousand years of assaults on His resurrection, the resurrection still stands as strong as ever. He did rise. The Old Testament is true, and so is the New Testament.
One other interesting look at this same idea, John chapter 2. At the beginning of His ministry Jesus is in the temple and referring to His body He says in verse 19, “Destroy this temple” – this is the true temple, they had turned the temple into a den of thieves where God did not dwell – this temple – “Destroy this temple” – verse 19 – “and in three days I will raise it up.” That’s a prophecy. Verse 22, When therefore, “He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this; and they believed the Scripture” – the Old Testament, “and believed the Word which Jesus had spoken.” Because Jesus rose, the Old Testament can be believed. Because He rose, He can be believed. And so, the resurrection affirms the authenticity, the inspiration, the accuracy, the trustworthiness of the Word of God, Old Testament and New Testament. So the resurrection of Christ affirms the truthfulness of the Word of God.
Number two, it affirms the deity of the Son of God. Look at Romans 1. It affirms the deity of the Son of God. And this is familiar to all of us. If He rises from the dead, He is no mere man. And so Paul begins his gospel in Romans 1:1, “A bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,” – the full gospel is promised, laid out in the Old Testament; he’s saying the same thing – “concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh” – listen to this – “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.”
You wonder whether Jesus is man. You can look at His history. He walked, He talked, He lived as a man. You wonder whether He was in the line of David and therefore has a right to the throne? You have His genealogy, twice given in the New Testament. You can trace it right back to David. He is in the line of David and has a rightful claim on the throne. You would – would ask the question; is He God? You need only to know that He walked out of His own grave by His own divine power, God declaring Him His Son by the resurrection. That’s why Peter says, “God raised Him from the dead.” That’s why Paul says, “God raised Him from the dead.”
Look at Ephesians 1 in verse 20. Again it says, “God,” – the antecedent all the way back in verse 17, “the God of our Lord Jesus, the Father of glory.” – “God raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenlies.” And here are statements that reflect His deity. He is far above, huperanō, way above, infinitely above all rule and authority and power and dominion. Those are such sweeping statements. All rule, all authority, all power, all dominion. That is all lordships, all sovereignties, He is way above them, far above them. He is far above every name that is named, that is every personage that’s ever been created not only in this age but in the one to come. He has put all things in subjection under His feet. He is God, the sovereign, the King of kings, the Lord of lords and the testimony was made by the Father of His deity in the resurrection.
Listen to how Peter brought his sermon to an end in Acts 2. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” You crucified Him, God made Him Lord, God exalted Him to His right hand. No greater proof exists for the divine nature of Jesus Christ than His rising from the dead. He conquered death easily because He is Himself the eternal life. Is the resurrection important? Absolutely it’s important. Why is it under attack? Because if it goes down, everything goes down. It has withstood the attacks and the resurrection of Christ vindicates the truthfulness of the Word of God, the deity of the Son of God.
Thirdly, the completion of the salvation of God, the completion of the salvation of God. Look at Romans chapter 4. The completion of the salvation of God. We know the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. We know that. That was His purpose, a redemptive purpose. Did He do it? Did He accomplish it? That’s the question. He came to seek and to save sinners. Did He succeed in doing that? We will find out. Look at Romans 4:24. Again it refers to Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. That’s God. God raised Him from the dead.
He was delivered up, that is arrested and executed, because of our transgressions, not His. He died for our transgressions and was raised because of our justification. God delivered Him up, God chose Him to be the sacrifice. It was by God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge that the whole thing came to pass. God is the primary cause of the death of Christ, men are only the secondary cause. God delivered Him up for our transgressions to bear our sins in His own body on the cross, to become the just for the unjust. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, delivered here, Romans says, because of our transgressions. And then the same God who delivered Him up for our transgressions raised Him up because of our justification.
What does that mean? God was seeking to justify sinners, that is to make them righteous. Justify means to be right with God, to be considered just or right or righteous. God wanted sinners to be right before Him. He wanted them to be acceptable to Him. He wanted them to be righteous. How could He do that? He provided Jesus Christ as the infinite sacrifice to be punished in our place so that He was punished for our sins. Our sins then having been fully punished, God can treat us as righteous.
So, did He do it on the cross? Did He succeed? Well the resurrection is the affirmation that He did. God raised Him because He had accomplished our justification. His sacrifice on the cross was perfect, complete, total, lacking nothing, achieving everything, satisfying divine wrath against our sins, satisfying the requirements of divine justice. This is basic to the work of redemption. Sin has to be punished. God has to punish it fully to the max. All sin must be punished. Christ becomes the infinite substitute, punished in our place. Was He a satisfactory offering? Yes.
How do we know? God raised Him from the dead because He was satisfied. His sacrifice satisfied divine justice. To put it simply. Christ died for God before He died for us. He could only satisfy us if He satisfied God. His sacrifice could only be applied to us if it was applied to God’s holy justice first. If it was sufficient to accomplish the end of God’s wrath, then it is sufficient to accomplish our salvation. That’s what we mean when we say God was satisfied, God was propitiated, or an atonement was made that was satisfactory to God. Did He do it? Yes, He did it. How do we know He did it? God raised Him from the dead because He had done it. His infinite offering of Himself fully satisfied the wrath of God for us. The resurrection makes it clear. So the resurrection affirms the Word of God, the Son of God, and the salvation of God.
The resurrection, number four, also vindicates the establishment of the church of God, the establishment of the church of God. Back in Matthew chapter 16 and verse 18 Jesus said, “I will build My church. and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Hades being the place of the dead in Jewish thinking. What Jesus is saying is, “I will build My church and the gates to the place of the dead” – that is the gates to the place of the dead, the gates are death – “death will not stop Me building the church.” And He is, in His own resurrection, the evidence of that. If Jesus dies and does not rise, then death has prevailed. Jesus said, “I will build My church, death will not prevail against it.” If Jesus doesn’t rise, death prevailed, there is no church.
Let me make it as simple as I can, if Jesus did not rise, you can all go home, never come back. Take your Bibles, all your Christian books, all your Christian hymns and take them and pile them up, burn them all, we’ll bulldoze this church and every other church on the planet that represents Jesus Christ because He didn’t rise from the dead, and there is, therefore, no church, He didn’t build His church. This is just another hoax. This is just another invention of men and demons and opiate for the people to keep them in a damning delusion.
How important is the resurrection? It is all important in the truthfulness of the Word of God, the nature of the Son of God, the salvation of God and the church of God. Go back to Ephesians 1 where this is made abundantly clear. “When the Father raised Him from the dead,” – Ephesians 1:20 – “seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places,” – when He exalted Him, it says He also, verse 22 – “gave Him as head over all things to the church.” He is head over all things, meaning He’s the King of kings, Lord of lords, sovereign of the entire universe.
He gained eternal and universal sovereignty which belonged by right to Him as the eternal Son. But He also became the head of the church which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Wonderful statement. Christ lives, He rose from the dead, the Father then makes Him head over the church not simply in some administrative function, He is head over the church in an organic way, the way a head works on a body. It is not detached information, it is the flow of life. So it is in the church. The true church, genuine believers are filled with Christ. His life pulses in us, spiritually. We are His body, inseparably connected to Him. The church is His very presence on earth. It’s His very fullness on earth because He rose.
Again, back to verse 20, “He raised Him from the dead” and made Him head over His church. This is the highest honor, by the way, of the church. We don’t just belong to some institution or some organization, some well-intentioned, moral religious movement. The true church is sharing in the very life of Christ who lives in us each, individually. And the Son of God reckons Himself in some measure incomplete without us. He is a head who must have a body for the expression of His glory. What kind of consolation is that for us to learn that not until we are the possessors of the indwelling Christ, not until He possesses all of us does He see Himself as complete?
This is the great glory of the church. Because He lives, the church lives. It is a living organism in which pulses the very eternal life of Christ. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live and I live by the power of the Son of God.” The true and living church is in union with the risen and living Lord, sharing His life now and forever. Because He lives, we live. How important is the resurrection? It vindicates the truthfulness of the Word of God, the deity of the Son of God, the completion of the salvation of God, the establishment of the church of God.
And number five, it vindicates the inevitability of the judgment of God, the judgment of God. The world doesn’t like this but Christ rose from the dead to judge all humanity. Every person who has ever or will ever live will be judged by Jesus Christ. John chapter 8 in verse 23, Jesus says – this in itself is a judgment on those to whom He was speaking. “He was saying to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above;’ – and they were the religious leaders – ‘you are of this world, I am not of this world. I said, therefore, to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.’” That’s a judgment.
Yesterday I saw a program on CNN, “If Jesus were here, what would He say?” Appalling indeed to watch. I know what He would say and nobody said it. This is what He would say. “You shall die in your sins. Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” That’s what He would say. “So they were saying to Him, ‘Who are You?’” – boy, do you have an inflated view of yourself, do you think you're the judge of every person, do you think every person’s eternal destiny is dependent upon how they view you – “Jesus said to them, ‘What I have been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you.’” You better get it right. He was raised from the dead to be the judge.
Back to John 5, one of the most notable, important texts in the Scripture, John 5 verse 21. “Just as the Father raises the dead, gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.” He has the same power of life, the power of resurrection as the Father because He is one with the Father. Then verse 22, “Not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” He is the judge of everyone. In order “that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
Don’t think that you can honor God unless you honor Christ. If you do not honor Christ, you do not honor God. They are inseparable. And what you do with Jesus Christ will determine your eternal future. He will judge you. Verse 24, “Truly, truly I say to you,” – get it – “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” That’s what Jesus would say if He were here. He would say there is a heaven, there is a hell, I will either be your Savior who will welcome you to heaven, or I will be your judge who will send you to everlasting torment.
That’s His message. In fact, verse 25, “I say to you, an hour is coming and is imminent, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear shall live.” All the dead of all human history will be raised from the dead, all of them. Not just the righteous dead, but the unrighteous dead. Everyone who has ever lived on this planet will be raised by the voice of Jesus who has the power of life to raise the dead. All will be raised and all will be brought to judgment.
Verse 27, “The Father has given Him authority to execute judgment on everyone.” He is the judge of every life. So verse 28, “Do not marvel at this; an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice,” – everyone – “some shall come forth; those who” – by the transformation of salvation – “did good to a resurrection of life, those who” – left in their sin and unbelief – “committed evil to a resurrection of judgment.”
Everybody gets resurrected. You either live in heaven in a glorified body, or hell in a resurrection body fit for torment. And Jesus makes the final judgment on everyone. Everyone who has ever lived will be judged by Him. This is the warning that Jesus gave and would give if He were here now. And there is one glorious and final truth. The truthfulness of the Word of God, the deity of the Son of God, the completion of the salvation of God, the establishment of the church of God, the inevitability of the judgment of God, all established by the resurrection.
And, finally, the eternal bliss of the saints of God, the eternal bliss of the saints of God is affirmed by the resurrection. John 14:19, “Because I live, you shall live also.” “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in Me though he be dead, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never really die. “John 14, He says, “I go to prepare a place for you” and where I am I will someday come to bring you. I am preparing for you a room in My Father’s heavenly house in the glories of eternal heaven.
There is a day coming for the saints of God when we will be changed in a moment. In the twinkling of an eye, when this perishable puts on imperishable, this mortal puts on the immortal, we are transformed into heavenly saints to live forever in the joy and the bliss of heaven. And Jesus has guaranteed this by His resurrection. Our salvation is complete; therefore, no punishment remains for those who trust in Him. And when we face Him as the judge, the verdict will be, “Come, beloved of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.”
You put your trust in Him, you believe in Him, as it says in John 5 – I read it earlier – you honor Him, He will usher you with a loving welcome into the bliss of heaven. You reject Him and He will be your judge consigning you to the torments of an everlasting hell. Because He rose, all of this is the way it really is. This is no fantasy, this is reality. And all the massive unrelenting assaults on the resurrection are understandable, as the kingdom of darkness does everything it can to destroy the truth at its most important point. Two thousand years, no success. Why? Because it’s true. Join me in prayer.
Father, what a glorious day it has been. What a wonderful opportunity for us to treat the sweeping height and depth and length and breadth of the resurrection to see it in all its majestic wonder. May we go on singing, go on praising, go on rejoicing in the provision made for us through the resurrection, looking forward to that day when we shall rise to be welcomed into Your presence forever.
Lord, may You pour this saving grace on souls here today. We pray, Lord, that You would be gracious to those who are still in sin and death and headed for eternal darkness. Make the light of the glory of the gospel shining in the face of Jesus known to them today. And now, Lord, send us on our way rejoicing, full of joy for what is provided for us because You live. We praise You and we thank You. Amen.
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