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As a culture, most of us don't know what to do with death. It is seen as our greatest enemy; many live in fear of it; others live in denial of it. But Jesus' teachings show that gaining a biblical view of death is one of the greatest things we can do in our hopes to live a meaningful life. This Easter message will guide you through some of the tragic myths man has created concerning death, and the hope we have in the face of death that is ours through Christ.
Habits and Huge Gifts: Two Things That Don't Always Please God
The Main Man, You, and the Main Thing
The Root of All Error and the Truth About Death
The Separation of Church and State
The 'Blessed Idiocy of Grace' and How We Must Respond
A Game God Won't Play
A Tree, A Temple, and A Timeless Truth: The Danger of Leaves Without Fruit
Not Your Typical Spring Cleaning - Jesus in The Temple
The Day the King Came and the Question His Followers Should Ask and be Able to Answer
Busting Out From the Crowd of Darkness: What You Want and What to Do When You Get It
What We All Want and How to Get It
This is really what it's all about. We have songs that give us hope and songs that give us joy. If you're here today and you don't understand that, thank you for coming. Thank you for letting us proclaim to you that everything is changed because of what this day in history marks.
The gates of heaven are open. God has defeated our greatest enemy, what our sin demands of us, which is death and judgment, He, in his grace, has provided for, and to show that provision was complete, death has lost its victory, death has lost its sting, the tomb is empty, and Christ is the firstfruits of those who know God, who trust in the person of God, Jesus Christ, and we will live. We live now in our relationship with him, and the grave does not hold us. So we sing.
Man, we sang this morning. "Joyful, joyful. Lord, we adore thee. God of grace and God of love." What incredible grace that God would walk on this earth, would take our curse, and would defeat our greatest enemy. We thank you, guests, family, and friends, for being here this morning, so we could tell you our story of hope and sing to you our songs of joy. We have a singing faith. On this earth, there are times of sorrow and mourning, but on this day with the perspective of Easter, we sing.
I'm going to attempt today to stand on the back of what we've already experienced with the spoken Word. What we're going to do right now is talk about what this whole thing is about and what it means. I want you to hear from that Christ figure, who was no myth, but a man who walked on this earth and God revealed and who says, "Let not your heart be troubled…" I want you to see him like you've never seen him before. I want you to understand the implication of who he was and what that means to all of us. You can mock his name, but you will see that he's the one.
One of the great tragedies of the word child is that so few words rhyme with it. So hymn writers across the age, when they've tried to come up something that rhymes with child, have been forced to use mild. I want you to meet Jesus this morning and know that this God is anything but mild.
A long time ago, I read a quote about this child who was king. Martin Bell wrote this, and I think this is a better picture of him than what we have caught in our baggage of this sun-deprived Jew who skipped through Galilee. Listen. "THERE he is. In the temple again. Causing trouble. Speaking very differently from other preachers. Speaking with authority about sorrow, anxiety, sickness, and death. Penetrating the dark corners of human existence. Shattering illusion. Make no mistake about it; this is a dangerous man."
One of my favorite stories in all of fiction (I'm not a big fiction fan) and one of the greatest pieces of fiction that's ever written because it has so much meaning behind it, is a work that was written for children and parents to share with children is by a guy named C.S. Lewis. It's called The Chronicles of Narnia. In The Chronicles of Narnia there's a story of children who are transported through this magic wardrobe into this land where the White Witch has brought a curse on the land and made it an eternal winter, a picture of death, a place without hope, no spring, no new life, and no freedom from despair and darkness.
The creatures of Narnia were under the influence of this White Witch and were oppressed by her reign. As little Lucy was the first to make her way into this land and see it and the hopelessness of the people and the despairs they had, she became friends with some creatures of Narnia. The people of Narnia would whisper hope and would talk of one named Aslan who would come one day to defeat the White Witch and bring spring and bring life.
The more Lucy heard about Aslan, the more she identified with the hurts and the fears of the people, the more she longed for Aslan to make an appearance on the scene. Narnia is made up of creatures. It's made up of animals (squirrels, rabbits). When they spoke of Aslan, they spoke of him with great reverence and awe, and she wondered what Aslan was and what he looked like.
In Louis' world, Aslan was a lion. When Lucy heard about Aslan (the Christ figure in this story), she trembled even being a human at the prospect of a lion, much less other creatures. She said, "Is Aslan safe?" The creatures of Narnia looked at her and said, "No child. He's a lion. He is not safe, but he is good."
I want you to understand that when Christ walked on this earth, he walked as the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Even as a lamb who was led to slaughter, as we just heard the Scriptures teach, he roared, and he was anything but mild. That Lamb is no longer in the grave. What came in as a lamb will come back as a lion, and I speak not of a month of the year. When he roars as a lion, the mountains will tremble and the oceans will roar when Jesus Christ, the risen Lion, comes. This morning, I want you to meet this Jesus, and I want you to understand him like you never have.
In 1940s in England, there was a woman named Dorothy Sayers, who was a novelist. She wrote detective stories. She was brilliant. The BBC went to her and said, "We want you to tell the story of this Jesus in a fresh and compelling way to the people of England." So the BBC commissioned her to write a play about Jesus Christ that would capture the hearts of the nation of England.
Dorothy Sayers took it on. She went right after it, and she wrote a play entitled, The Man Born to be King. It was to be radio theatre. When the BBC had the press conference in order to talk about this coming radio theatre that would be broadcast all across the nation, different people got ahold of some of the quotes that Jesus said and the way people responded to him, and they wrote the ministers and what was their congress. They said, "We must not let this go. It is blasphemous. It is irreverent to the point of error."
Dorothy Sayers understood the Gospels, and she wrote a story about Jesus that was anything but meek and/or mild because she read the Scriptures correctly and wasn't influenced by the posters in her Sunday school class. She saw that even as a lamb, he roared. Listen to what Dorothy Sayers says about this Jesus. "To make of His story something that could neither startle, nor shock, nor terrify, nor excite, nor inspire a living soul as to crucify the Son of God afresh and to put Him to an open shame."
Dorothy wrote, "Let me tell you, good Christian people, an honest writer would be ashamed to treat a nursery tale as you have treated the greatest drama in history…" It 's been said if we can't remember what Jesus is really like, how can we explain to the rest of the world that he loves and understands them? Why would they be interested in a remote figure in stained glass windows who seems hopelessly far from their immediate realities? A man who stalked the earth with nothing but a frown on his face is not the biblical Jesus. He is a dangerous man. He claims to be your King, and he demands a response.
If you've not been with us, we've been making our way through the gospel of Mark, and we've found that Christ, as we study his life, is in the last weeks of his life (where we are in the gospel of Mark). It's in Mark 12. He's about to have a conversation a day or two before his crucifixion with some men who came to him. These men are called Sadducees.
There's a way to remember a very important fact about the Sadducees. These men were the aristocrats of the day. They were usually wealthy and highly connected. They served on the supreme court of the nation of Israel, and they loved the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). They only believe those five books were authoritative, and they scoffed at anything they couldn't see to be evident in those first five books.
So because in their opinion there was nothing in those first five books about angels (which was error), there was nothing in those first five books about demons (which was a mistake), and because they believed there was nothing in those first five books about life after death, about reward and about judgment, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. That was why they weresad, you see.
This is what Mark tells us about them, and they come to Christ. I want you to watch. Here comes little stained glass, pale, sun-deprived Jesus. He is surrounded by enemies everywhere. The supreme court is coming to him, and they're going to mock his doctrine, which is a doctrine of hope, a doctrine of freedom from fear, and a doctrine of deliverance, even from death. Read it with me.
"Some Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection) came to Jesus, and began questioning Him, saying, 'Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN'S BROTHER DIES and leaves behind a wife AND LEAVES NO CHILD, HIS BROTHER SHOULD MARRY THE WIFE AND RAISE UP CHILDREN TO HIS BROTHER.'"
Here's the scenario. They went to Deuteronomy 25. There's what's called a levirate law which comes from the Latin word which means brother-in-law. It means that if a woman was married to a man and that man died, in order to protect the widow and to continue the family name of that individual, if you were unwed brother, then your wife was determined for you.
You would go and take your brother's widow. You would marry her, and you'd have a child with her, and you would name that child after your deceased brother. It was a way to perpetuate the family name, and it was a way to guarantee that that widow would not be put out. Moses wrote that into the law.
The Sadducees thought this was rather funny in light of Jesus' belief and the resurrection. What they do is try and corner him with a hypothetical that sounds rather convincing, as most hypotheticals tend to try and do. Here's their scenario. There's a woman. She marries a guy. He dies. So the brother nearest comes and marries the woman, but he dies. The next brother comes and marries the woman, and he dies. (This woman apparently cannot cook.) It continues. So all seven brothers are dead. This woman now is out of brothers, and she dies.
We go to the resurrection, and then they say to him right there in verse 23, "In the resurrection that you believe in, Jesus…" They're going to try and show how absurd his belief in life after death is in light of this scenario they've created. "So Jesus, in the resurrection [you say], what's going to happen? Is this woman going to be torn seven different directions, or are we going to have six eternally frustrated bachelors?"
I want you to see something about Jesus because he's at the end here. He has 24 hours left of preaching before his empty tomb preaches forever about who he is. I want you to see this dangerous man look at the supreme court. This is how he responds. Let me reduce it to you to this. "Here's your problem. You don't know the Bible, you're ignorant, and you have no clue about the power of God."
That's a rather mild response. Would you agree? "Welcome to church," Jesus would say. "Here's the reason you had this hypothetical and you're confused by it. You're ignorant of God's Word and because you don't have a clue about the person and power of God." Look at it with me.
"Jesus said to them, 'Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, "I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, and the God of Jacob"? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.'"
There are three things Christ does in this little section. The very first thing he does is, he makes it extremely clear his view of Scripture. Jesus Christ argues for the inerrancy and the perfection of God's Word, right down to a verb tense. He says, "It doesn't say that God was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It says he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He makes it very clear in this passage that he believes the Old Testament is God's Word. He makes it very clear that he believes that death is not God and death is not the end, and he makes it really clear that he expects you to know your Bible.
Let me share with you something about heaven that Christ reveals 24 hours before he's about to return there. A guy named Matthew Henry, who lived about 500 or 600 years ago, said a little quote about Turks and infidels. Turks in the middle ages were where what religion prominently dwelled? Islam. He said, "It is the foolishness of Turks and infidels who expect sensual pleasures in their fool's paradise."
American's were largely ignorant to this until September 11 and news started to leak out that one of the motivational forces behind getting individuals to fly jets into buildings and strapping bombs to themselves and backpacks and walking into restaurants in Tel Aviv was that in their fool's paradise they would have sensual pleasure. We found that Islam says, "If you die faithful in your service to Allah, 70 long brown-haired virgins await you on the other side."
That motivated a few guys to say, "I'm in. I'll sign up. I'll fly right there. I can't get a date here. I may as well get a bunch of them there." It is the fool's paradise of Turks, of Muslims, and any infidel, any heretic, any godless, biblically-ignorant person to think of heaven in terms of sensual pleasure. Let me confess to you that you're looking at a previous infidel and heretic.
Our view of heaven evolves through life. When I was a child and now that I have children… When I ask them what heaven must be like, it typically centers around Oreos, Skittles, at this time of year Thin Mints, and always ice cream. That basically will be their diet. They can eat it constantly, mom will never slap their hand, they will never get sick, they will never lose their appetite, and their mouths will constantly be full of candy. They get a little older, and now it's candy and amusement parks.
Then you get a little older…I speak from the experience of my own gender… I substitute sex for candy. Especially as a man who by the grace of God had been taught where to keep the gift of sex in the context of a marriage relationship and so not experiencing that God-given joy, for a long time I thought if he takes me out, I, unlike the Turks, had many more than 70 waiting for me in heaven. Between indulgences in the bed, I would have indulgences in the kitchen (usually mocha almond fudge ice cream).
Instead of sitting there looking at me like I'm some pervert, be honest. Don't leave me hanging here people. I know what your heaven is like. I have to confess to you that I believed that because I was ignorant, and because I thought of heaven and I thought of resurrection as a restoration of life on earth (only better), and in my limited understanding that's what better looked like to me. Nobody would slap my hand when I would reach for what would bring me delight.
You need to know something today. Jesus, in this little text right here… This is either really good news and a great relief, or if you're about to be married or newly married, you're going to go, "Oh, really? We're not going to be married forever? Oh, sweetie." Some other people are out there who are going, "This is unbelievable. I love this text. To quote Meatloaf, 'I'll never break my promise. I'll never break my vow, but god only knows I could die right now. So I'm praying for the end of time to hurry up and arrive.'" I'm not going to be married to my sweet bride in heaven.
There's something else that's there. Jesus says you're not going to be like angels. He says we're going to be like angels in one specific area. Marriage is God's gift of intimacy, God's gift of community, companionship, and completion. It is a way that he ministers to us and brings us grace. Within the community of angels God has created, he has made that class of beings so pure, their love so undefiled, that even the best marriage on earth looks like a Mike Tyson press conference in comparison.
There's no marriage on earth, no matter how sweet it is, no matter how pure at that moment that it is, that matches the intimacy and love of angels. We're going to be like angels in the fact that God will create us differently than we are. He will take the mortal and replace it with the immortal. He will take the perishable and replace it with the imperishable.
This is a hard concept. In heaven, he's going to make us start a little lower than the angels. In Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 he says for a while we're there, but then he will exalt us above the angels. We'll have a similar characteristic to the angels in that we will not need human relationships to bring us companionship, completion, love, and joy because we will fully have our satisfaction met.
In that, the priestly prayer of Christ in John 17 where he said, "Father, I pray that they would be one as you and I are one. That they would be in me as I am in you. That they would love one another and have great delight and be completely satisfied as I am in you and that they would be like us," the truth is the Scripture says that when Christ is revealed at the other side of the grave, we will be not like angels, but we will be like him. You see, the Son, the Father, and the Spirit are lacking nothing. There is no longing ever. They are complete and self-sufficient and full of all joy, and there is nothing they need or nothing they lack.
That community is so other-worldly that we can't get there. So when we think of heaven, we don't think of what God has waiting for us, we take the greatest pleasures on earth and take them to an exponent in heaven. That is the fool's paradise of infidels and Turks. Let me show you that biblically, and then let me make a condescension to you. Let me just say God understands our condition here on earth.
Let me give you the best definition of repentance you'll ever hear. Repentance is letting go of something that feels life-giving. I constantly, in my relationship with God, as a person who, by grace, has been led to know him and to experience the life that comes in a relationship with the living Lord that I have right now… Do you know eternal life starts the moment you come into relationship with God and not at the grave?
There are a number of times, regularly, that I turn away from the way of life my Father has called me to, and I turn to things that look life-giving. I go, "If I could just be over here and express my flesh and lust right now, there's life there. If I could, right now, speak an unkind word because it would make me feel good, and there's life in chasing my anger."
Or my circumstances are too difficult, and rather than trust that God, by his grace, will guide me through it, let me go over here where there seems to be life, which is deliverance from my circumstance in some chemical or some bottle or something that can get me away from where I am because it feels so life-giving. So I run over here, and I experience life, maybe for a moment.
Yes, it's attractive for a time. The Bible is very honest about the fact that sin has its season, but it always has its sting, and it always has its consequence. I have never gone that direction towards evil that I have not experienced, in some form, the consequence of it. There's never been a time when I've, by grace, been held to be obedient to his Word as I've allowed the Spirit of God to live in me and through me and chosen his way that I've regretted it to any degree. But I want to let you know that I on this earth am constantly moving over here to find life, forsaking the life that I say I've found in the risen Lord.
This is what the psalmist says in Psalm 17 by faith. He says, "As for me…" In contrast to others who he'd been sharing about prior to this in the psalm. "…I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake." Notice this. This is what Christ is alluding to in Mark 12. He's simply saying, "When we know God for who he really is, we cannot get our little finite minds around anything that is infinite in goodness." We just can't.
Intellectually, I can get around the story of Christmas and Easter, but in terms of comprehending it and really believing there's a God who is infinite in his glory, indescribable in his goodness, who in his presence you are perfectly content and full of joy without any of the things that bring me fleeting joy on this earth, I can't get all the way there. I am a victim of my world. I am a victim of the fact that I am finite.
I take it by faith because if God is anything less than being completely satisfied in his presence, your god is entirely too small. If your god, to be in his presence, requires sex for you to want to hang around him, your god is too small. If your god needs to give you a dish of ice cream with breakfast for you to hang there with him some more, your god is too small.
Right here in Mark 12, Jesus is saying, "I'm not tiny. Boys, you don't need that in heaven. Ladies, you're not going to be looking for somebody to come and make you whole. You're going to have me, and you will fully know me as I fully know you right now. In that moment, you will be satisfied like the angels are. I will do something that is so other-worldly and so mighty in its power. I will take you, infidels, and make you like me." Do you understand this?
I have some great kids. I absolutely love being a daddy. I really do. I have one child who, right now, is going through a tough time in the sense that it doesn't matter what I do with her, she's always looking for one more thing. If you're an 8-year-old, do you like this day? Daddy got you up and took you for doughnuts. I didn't ask you to get doughnut holes. I said you can pick whatever doughnut you want. We got some doughnuts. I let her buy chocolate milk.
We loaded up in the car. On the way there we stopped at McDonald's. I said, "Get what you want." We went to Six Flags. We were at Six Flags all day. I let her ride what rides she wanted. I let her get some snacks. I let her get some treats. On the way home, we stopped by Crystal's Pizza in Irving and went to the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. I gave her as many coins as she could spend in two hours. "Let's go. What games do you want to play? Let's get tickets. We'll trade it in for stuff you'll lose in 30 minutes, but let's go. Let's do it."
I didn't make her sit with me when she ate the pizza. They were showing VeggieTales in the theatre. So she's in there eating pizza, coins in her pocket, Six Flags in her memory, doughnuts in her gut, and watching VeggieTales. She's having a ball. We are in the car, and we are riding home, and my sweet daughter says, "Daddy, when we get home can I have some ice cream?"
I want to let you know how that made me feel. I said, "Sweetie, can I share something with you? Of course. If you want ice cream, you can have ice cream, but here's the deal. I love you so much. I tried to give you everything that if I was eight, I would want today. I wanted you to enjoy today. I wanted you to love today. But you know what I really wanted? I wanted to be with you today. I wanted to enjoy these things with you today.
When you, in the midst of all that, are trying to cut a deal to get one thing more, what you're really saying is that you're not satisfied with me or what I can provide for you. It doesn't show gratitude, and frankly, it shows me that there's something missing in our relationship." Can I tell you what the Spirit of God did in my heart that night when I was lying in bed?
He said, "What your little daughter just expressed right there, as she's learning about gratitude and learning that she always does need something else to make her life really full…" After the ice cream, she wanted to play a game. After the game, she wanted to cuddle with me until who knows when.
What I really wanted is what God really wants. I really wanted for her to go, "Daddy, today was unbelievable. I got a cinnamon roll, and I got a chocolate éclair. I got chocolate milk. I went to Six Flags. The lines weren't that long. We rode all kinds of rides. We had such a great time. We went to Crystal's Pizza. I had all the pizza and pasta that I wanted. We played games. I traded them in. I got toys. I came home. I had ice cream.
But none of that really matters to me. That was great. That was icing. You are the proverbial cake. Dad, you are the man. Dad, I love you. If there's never another moment at Six Flags in my life, if there's never another doughnut, if there's never another Crystal's Pizza, I love your presence, and I am satisfied completely there. Thank you for your exceeding kindness, but Daddy, I love you. Being your little girl is everything to me."
Is there a dad in this room who doesn't want to hear that? That's what you want, isn't it? I know I am not everything my little girl needs. I am not mighty God. My Father in heaven says, "Todd, there's always a deal you think you have to cut with me. That's because you don't really know me. You're not going to need sex in heaven.
When you know me, you will be so completely satisfied. I'm going to do such a transforming, powerful work in your life that there will be no longing. I know you really can't get there right now, but that's glory. If you think I'm anything less than that, your view of me is entirely too small." Your god is too small if he is not completely satisfying.
A guy named John Piper, who's had a great ministry these last 10 years to college students, has a great little saying. It comes from Psalm 73. Let's look at it. It says, "With Your counsel You will guide me and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You [in light of you], I desire nothing on earth." In light of you, or beside you, there's nothing on earth that even hangs in there.
What he's saying right there is when you have the presence of God, everything we can think of in this life that brings us joy and goodness is going to look so small and insignificant compared to God. This is Piper's statement from Psalm 73. He says, "God is more glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
The Sadducees and the Turks and people in this room who do not have an informed mind by the Spirit of God think God is going to have to give us things in heaven to make us content there for eternity. Like me, you need to be taught by God's Word and by faith believe that our God has been entirely too small, and if God cannot ultimately and completely fulfil and satisfy you, then you need to look for another god. He makes the claim that he can.
I believe that's why it says the streets of heaven are paved with gold. They might be literally. I'm not going to be concerned if they're not. The point is that the things we kill each other and we war over on this earth to bring us joy are so incidental and insignificant in light of the presence of God that you pave the street with those things.
Do you get that? It's not because what we fight for on earth that is limited is in abundance in heaven, it's because it's insignificant. You will tread upon it in heaven. "When all things become shadows in the light of you." That is a God worth worshiping. If you don't know him, you do not know the biblical Jesus.
Let me just roll out some stuff really quickly. What I thought to do today, in the context of what Jesus did, was to take the errors that people have on our view of death and deal with them the way Jesus did. It's not going to be very mild. I want to let you know that. I'm fixing to tell you if you hold to one of these views of death and the grave there are two problems: you're ignorant, and you do not know the power of God. What I want to do today is roll through them. Are you ready?
Let me start by saying this. Confusion, deception, and error are always (not sometimes) a result of ignorance of the Scriptures and an underestimation of the power of God. Let me show you how much Christ was convinced of this. He used a structure called a chiasm, which is when he takes parallel thoughts and stacks them together, pointing to the main idea. You don't often see this in the text, but you see it here. I've put it together for you like this.
Look what Christ did. He starts by saying, "Is this not the reason you are mistaken…" The word he uses there in the Greek is the word planasthe, which is where we get the English word planet from. The reason planets are called planets is because when the ancient Greeks looked at the stars they found that all the stars are fixed in the sky except (according to what they could see without the amplification of light through telescopes) anywhere from five to seven stars that were wanderers.
That's what the word planasthe means. It's somebody who is in error, who does not stay in a fixed place or the right place, where we think it should be. All these other stars are there, but there are some that are in error and that are wanderers. This is what Jesus says. "Is not the reason that you are wandering away from truth because you guys are mistaken? You're not fixed on truth." He starts there, and he ends there.
He comes with that and says, "Here's the problem. Here's why you're in error. You don't know God's Word, and you don't know the power of God." Here's the deal. This is the truth. In heaven, it's going to be nothing like you think it is because you don't know the Bible, and you don't know the power of God. Did I remind you that here's the reason you're ignorant of the Scriptures?
You say you love the first five books of the Bible. Let's go there. If you would just read those first five books of the Bible, you would see that God already made it clear he is not the portion and contentment and happiness of dead men. That's silly. No, he continues to be the God and provider of everything for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
So even your Bible that you hold to and don't look to anywhere else says, "God is the God of the living and not the dead. You are mistaken." Do you see that? Little mild Jesus is floating through Jerusalem. There is no error in your life or my life that is not a part of our ignorance of the Scriptures and our denial of the power of God.
We have not heard enough about Andrea Yates. I want to make this point. Andrea Yates was not just a woman who suffered simply from postpartum depression (which is a very real thing). Coupled with the chemical imbalance that can sometimes come after childbirth, you have a woman who, for years, had subjugated herself to theological error.
There's a gentleman by the name of Mike Woroniecki who's from Grand Rapids. He was arrested five times there for disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. The last time he was arrested in 1981, he was berating a woman who was buying tickets to the circus for her children by saying, "You are going to hell. God will judge you for pursuing earthly vanities."
The woman broke down in tears, and they arrested him. Instead of sending him to jail, they said, "We'll plea bargain with you, and we will let you go if you'll leave this town and stop saying the things you're saying." Because he's not a prophet of God (prophets of God don't cut that deal), Mike cut the deal. Out he went, but he didn't stop preaching and spreading his miasm.
He would go around the world, and there was a couple named the Yates who came in contact with his ministry. There was a woman named Andrea who read his newsletter, The Perilous Times, on a regular basis, devouring them. She was familiar with what Mike Woroniecki taught, which is that women at birth inherit the contentious nature of Eve, that women are witches, and that bad children come from bad witch mothers. If you are a witch of a mother, you will have witches and warlocks for children, and witches and warlocks are separated from the power and deliverance of God.
In her perversion, in her crucified, distorted worldview, this witch of a mother (in her view) thought the most loving thing she could do was deliver her little witches and warlocks before they reached some age of accountability in her mind. So she took them out. I want to tell you why she did that. Andrea Yates is sentenced to life in prison because she was ignorant of God's Word and because she did not know the power of God.
What Jesus is going to do all throughout his ministries is he's going to look at people, and he's going to say, "You have got to know your Bible." Over 10 times he says these phrases. "Have you not read? Do you not understand? Go and look, and find out what this means." If you have a problem, it's because you either don't understand the sense and meaning of the Bible or because you deny the Bible for what it is (the authoritative Word of God in this life).
We have men and women on this earth who have a perverted view of different things. They have a perverted view of death. Many people think death always leads to a place of blessing. This is held to by people who are ignorant of the Bible and who do not understand the power of God. Here's another way to say this. "God is good, and I am basically good enough. A loving God would not send me to hell; nor would he send anybody else to hell."
Can I tell you why you have that view? You don't know the Bible, and/or you don't understand what the Bible is (the power and authoritative Word of God), and you deny the power of God and the glory of God. There are a number of places I could take you: Psalm 1; John 5:24-29; Revelation 20:11-15; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9. The Scriptures make it very clear there is a resurrection for some to life and a resurrection for others to judgment. Look specifically at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 with me. This is what it says.
"For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus."
Death does not always lead to a place of blessing. That is error. Let me give you another one. People in our world believe death leads to another life and then another life until we escape the curse of living in an imperfect world by attaining to perfection. What's this called? It's called reincarnation. It's called karmic law. Karma is what you reap in this life you will sow in another life. You need to know this. In America, 25 percent of people believe in reincarnation. Hindus, Buddhists, and Shirley MacLaine-ites believe in reincarnation.
The law of karma tells you if you live a good life, you will evolve through a greater life form until you live a good enough life that eventually you will escape the horror of life by going on to glory. If you live a poor life, you will be born with a birth defect and suffer through it.
If you lead a severely poor life you will come back as some plant or animal or vegetable or insect and then work your way up as a stalk of corn, maybe make your way through to a worm, be a good little worm, and become a turtle. Work your way through the turtle family, become a fox. If you're lucky, come back as a cow. Make your way to a lower human form, all the way up to the Brahmin class. Maybe one day you'll even be a guru, and then you're gone.
There's some hope for you. Do you know that according to Gallup, in a recent poll, 17 percent of people who sit in churches today believe in reincarnation? If you doubt me, let me share with you something I received not long ago from a church I wouldn't want to mention (Lovers Lane United Methodist Church) because that wouldn't be correct. I'm holding a flyer asking you to come to their Friday night ministry where you can learn from Dr. Roger Woolger that past lives are the key to your future. This is happening in churches in America.
He wants you to understand how you can use his highly effective method to explore and resolve unconscious, psychological, and emotional patterns that block your potential. Past-life therapy is especially relevant to the treatment of your old and destructive patterns. Deep traumas can be removed as you deal with your trauma from other lives.
As if that wasn't enough, they take all the counselors and shepherds in their body and say, "If you'll come to the Saturday session with him, we've arranged with the state that you can get your continuing education credit, and you can learn how to administer past-life therapy." This is a lie from hell. Its origin is that Satan cannot convince us we are free from sin.
I've never been any place where people don't acknowledge that there is sin in their life. He has to give you something to deal with your sin, so he has invented this lie. Instead of sharing with you the truth that the way to deal with your sin is to humble yourself before a holy God, to repent, and to acknowledge Christ is Lord and the means through which God has given you provision for your sin, he says what you need to do is trust if you don't get it right in this life, you'll get another crack at it.
This is the lie that there's always another chance. It is a lie from hell. It's destructive not just to that individual, but it's destructive on society. This is why in India the caste system continues, and people die on the streets, and poor folks are not fed, and sick people are left dying, and children who are born with birth defects are burned. In that perverted theological world, if you mess with somebody else's karma, you invite bad karma on yourself.
This has allowed people to do in Hinduism and Buddhism to say, "I can't help you. If I help you, I'm messing with the gods, and the gods will mess with me, and I will be like you. So I walk by you in your pain. I walk by you in your suffering. In fact, I let you get in full amount what you have earned in past lives." Until Mother Teresas and people enlightened by the gospel of Christ go into Kolkata and begin to love and minister to the poor and the broken, you have darkness in that land.
Let me tell you how cowboys deal with this. "'What does Reincarnation mean?' A cowpoke asked his friend. His pal replied, 'It happens when yer life has reached its end. They comb yer hair, and warsh yer neck, and clean yer fingernails, and lay you in a padded box away from life's travails. The box and you goes in a hole that's been dug into the ground. Reincarnation starts in when yore planted 'neath a mound. Them clods melt down, just like yer box, and you who is inside. And then yore just beginnin' on yer transformation ride.
In a while, the grass'll grow upon yer rendered mound. 'Till some day on yer moldered grave a lonely flower is found. And say a hoss should wander by and graze upon this flower that once wuz you, but now's become yer vegetative bower. The posy that the hoss done ate up, with his other feed, makes bone, and fat, and muscle essential to the steed, but some is left that he can't use and so it passes through, and finally lays upon the ground this thing, that once wuz you.
Then say, by chance, I wanders by and sees this upon the ground, and I ponders, and I wonders at, this object that I found. I thinks of reincarnation, of life and death, and such, and come away concludin': 'Slim, you ain't changed, all that much.'" Let me tell you what I think of reincarnation. It's laying on the ground.
Jesus is saying, "If you believe that, you don't know the Scriptures, and you don't know the power of God. Slim, you're going to change a whole lot." You're going to change so much when you know God and you fully understand who he is that you don't long for what we think we need now to be eternally happy. Only people who believe in a God that glorious and that powerful believe that.
If you try and make heaven a place filled with ice cream and sex to get your friends to want to go there, your god is way too small. Ladies, if a guy tells you he loves you, he could die in your presence, he never wants to go anywhere else, but he wants a piece of your hide to stay there, he's not satisfied with you. He's looking to you to get to his god, and you call it what it is.
The Scripture says, "It's appointed for man to die once, and then there's judgment." There's a lie out there that says, "Death is the end." It is finiteism. It is nihilism. It is called atheism. It is a lie. The Scriptures make it infinitely clear that death is not the end. It says very clearly at the end of 2 Thessalonians 1:9, "And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…"
If I did not believe in the Scriptures and the power of God, this would be my bag of tricks. I would believe death is the end. I would be a hedonist, and I would live hard after pleasure. I would exploit you for my gratification and my satisfaction. I would use everything in my power to get from you what I needed to find joy and glory, because there is no judgment. So if I have to kill you to have satisfaction, I'll do it. If I have to exploit you physically to get satisfaction, I would do it. This is what a philosophically consistent atheist should do. It is why atheism is an unlivable philosophy if you take it to its extreme.
Hitler was closeto right. You don't like the Jews? Get rid of them if they don't bring you joy. There is no consequence. Do what you want to do because you have the power to do it and advance your race where you think your glory can be. When it costs too much to not get enough, in other words, when the cost of joy is not worth the benefit it brings, then I am still in control. I just take a little gun. I put up under my chin, and I pull the trigger, because there is nothing at the grave.
That's why suicide is the great lie. It is the logical end of where a hedonist should go. When living in this life no longer brings you great joy, you can still do something that would bring you joy, which is to escape the pain, which your errant philosophical worldview has brought you. Be a god and remove the pain because on the other side of that trigger is peace. It too lies beneath a horse and smells, and it is error.
Some would say death is irrelevant in our society. "I don't need to worry about death." Another way to say this, "I'm going to eat, drink, and be merry. I'm young. I am invincible. I can worry about that later." The young folks in our body, this is probably where you are typically landing if you're not currently informed by the Scriptures and aware of the power of God. You need to know death is not irrelevant; death awaits.
The Scriptures make it very clear that you do not know the day. Death is not irrelevant, and you cannot escape it. It waits for you. The idea that God is dead, that you make the rules, you mock at him, and that in your power, you'll laugh in his face… The Scriptures in Psalm 80, Psalm 37, Isaiah 56 warn you who laugh at God, that he will laugh at you. Death is not irrelevant. It is the wages of your rebellion.
There are only a few folks who know exactly the hour of their death, and they can prepare to deal with it. There's a story of a guy who bragged, "I'm not worried about when I die. My grandfather knew exactly the year, the month, the week, the day, the hour of his death, and he was exactly right." His friend said, "That is amazing. How did he know that?" He said, "Because a judge told him." Today a judge tells you. Death is not irrelevant. It's something you must deal with.
Some would say another thing we need to believe on this earth about death is that death is all‑powerful. There's no avoiding it, and death will be your king. In Mark 9, this is what some people came upon Jesus and said. *"When Jesus came into the official's house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder, He said, 'Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.' And they began laughing at Him." * Why? Because they thought death was all-powerful. Jesus says, "Go ahead, laugh, but you're going to find out that there is a King."
Let me give you one statement about death that is biblical. Here is one statement about death that is informed from Scriptures and the awareness of the power of God. Death is dead. This is why we sing at funerals. I was with my good friends, the Polk family, yesterday. I was talking to them about when we went to the funeral of Scott, Johnny, and Karen's daddy, and a sweet member of our body, Mrs. Polk, when she buried the Captain, as we called him.
We talked about how I sat next to a friend of mine, Tommy Nelson, at the funeral. Tommy, who dresses as poorly as a man from Denton ought to, came into that funeral on that particular day decked out in a bright suit with the wildest tie I'd ever seen this conservative pastor wear. Tommy is funny in his humor. He kept saying to everybody he met, "Hi. How are you doing? Good to see you. I'm wearing my most the theologically correct tie." He said that 100 times. It was a loud, celebrative tie, because Tommy knew the Captain wasn't dead.
That is why you're going to sing at my funeral. You're going to grieve with my wife and my kids and my family as you appropriately should at their loss of their loved one who God has given them as a gift, but you're going to sing because it isn't over. Death is dead. First Corinthians 15 says, "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
We gather today in the midst of folks who have lost loved ones in the last year and are filled with the pain of losing them, but we sing songs of hope and songs of joy because we understand the Scriptures and we know the power of God. We know our Redeemer lives, and so shall we.
Father, I pray this morning for friends who are here who suffer hopelessness and despair, and who are filled with confusion, deception, and error because they do not know the Word of God, they don't understand it for what it is (authoritative and final), and they don't know you, the power of God. This morning, I pray that even as you spoke truth in a piercing way to the Pharisees and the Sadducees that you would speak truth to our hearts.
Whatever error we drag in this morning, would you pull that thorn of theological filth and of corrupt worldview from our heart? Would you replace it with the joy and truth of Easter, that death is dead? Would you replace it with the knowledge that our God is not at all safe, but he is good? Would you replace it with the joy of knowing that our Redeemer lives and we will reign with him on that day?
I'll tell you something about the power of God. I have not experienced it, but I know it by faith because the Scriptures are truth and authoritative. When we know our Redeemer and when we are in his presence, we will do what we just did with that sense of applause and we will never tire of it. That means there's going to have to be a radical transformation in this mortal body.
Welcome to the resurrection. Don't try and get excited about heaven as a fallen, finite individual. Trust that your God will allow you to know him so fully that you will forever be satisfied in him. Then by faith you purpose to live in relationship with him in such a way that the whole world knows that we have a Redeemer who lives. So we begin to walk by faith and find life on this earth where he says life is.
I'm going to give you an illustration that's an application of an attorney who was in the middle of a trial who was trying desperately to convince his jury that his client, with the evidence mounting against him, was innocent. Everything in the evidence pointed to this man's guilt except one thing. They couldn't provide a corpse.
So he stood there, and he said to the jury in his closing argument, "To show you that my client cannot be convicted, in a minute the corpse who is supposedly the victim of my client will walk through that door, and you will find that he is not a corpse." He stood, and he turned, and he faced the door. For one minute, there was silence. Everybody in the jury and everybody in the courtroom eyes were fixed on that door.
After a minute, the attorney swung around. He looked, and he said, "Why were you looking at the door? You were looking at the door because whatever evidence you have, it has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that, in fact, there is a cadaver. So you cannot, by the laws of this state, convict my client because you looked expectantly, believing he would come through that door."
The jury was highly confused because the evidence until that point really did lead to a conviction, and they went away. They were right back in the courtroom 15 minutes later. They stood for the reading of the verdict, and low and behold the bailiff said "Guilty, on all accounts." The defense attorney was absolutely miffed. He was shocked. He did not understand how that could've happened.
He polled the members of the jury afterward, and he said, "Wait a minute. You obviously thought there was a possibility this missing dead person was alive, and he was going to walk through that door because you looked intently." They said, "We absolutely did. We were in there, and we were ready to agree with you. Then somebody on the jury made the observation that everybody in the room looked except one person. Your client."
Believers, I'm addressing you in this moment. We can give all the evidence in the world, to our friends who do not know Jesus Christ, that the tomb is empty, but if we live as if he is dead, they will convict us of foolishness. So I ask you this morning, as they look at your life, is it obvious that you believe in a living Lord who completely satisfies or are you continually at the trough of this world?
Don't be amazed when the world doesn't run to your Savior when you don't stay there with him. They want to see where you look. If you look anywhere, but to glory, we hurt his case. So we, in our brokenness, cry out, "God, do a work in us, and let us be fully devoted to you. Let us confess our shortcomings." We say to our guests who are here today, "What you see in us today and our celebrating, we're looking to eternity. We ask your forgiveness when we eat at the trough of this world, and we repent."
If you're here as a guest today, if you've bought an aberrant view of death, if you don't know the truth of this slide, the truth that just rang out in song, that he lives and that the payment for your sin was the precious life that he gave, you need to know that death is not irrelevant. You need to know that death does not guarantee a place of blessing. This is your time to deal with that too.
I want to challenge you and ask you if you're here today and you want to know more about this Jesus, or if you're at the place where in a moment you want to make a decision for Jesus Christ, would you let us know that so we can come alongside you and help you grow and understand the Scriptures and the grace and power of God as we have?
If you want to be a safe place where you can explore this Jesus and ask questions and not be condemned, you check that box on your Watermark News where it says, "I want to know more about how to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ." You can drop it in the boxes that are in the back or give it to a guest at the visitors' table. This is your moment. Ours is when we walk out of here, and we live as if the tomb is empty. Yours is now when you deal with the fact that this gentle Jesus, meek and mild, is a lion who is King.
Lord, we come to you now after an intense morning of worship and of looking at your Scriptures, and we are going to do the most intense thing we could ever do on this earth, and that is business with you. For those of us who know you, Father, we intend to live differently because Easter is a reality in our life, not a day in our annual calendar. So I pray we wouldn't give evidences, other than our life that focuses on the hope and the knowledge and the belief that our Redeemer lives.
Father, for those who are here today who have been informed by error, who've been unaware of the power of God until it was declared to them anew today, I pray they would come to you and find you gentle and good.
I pray that right now they would deal with the rebellion in their hearts and say, "Lord, thank you for being the provision for my sin, that you would be a lamb led to slaughter for me, and are victorious over the judgment due me that I might experience the life that you've wanted. I freely accept, right now. I confess my sin. I call you my Savior. I thank you for your gift of grace and life through Jesus Christ, now my Redeemer and my Lord. Would you help me learn to walk in such a way that the greatest evidence on this earth is my transformed life?" In Jesus name, amen.
He is risen. If you have friends who you want to share that and declare the trumpet of his truth to, please come get a lily. Have a blessed day.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. <strong></strong> This volume covers Mark 10:35 through Mark 12:44.