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Three Reminders to Remain a Healthy Church
Sunday, June 7 Watermark Fort Worth Service
“Races” Don’t Reconcile, People Do: How to Love, Listen and Live like Christ
When Racial Tensions Rise, So Must The Church
Devotion to Christ While We Disagree about How to Respond to the COVID (or any other) Crisis.
Sober Minded Living That Leads to Sanctification: How We Make War Against Sin
A Message from the Elders on Membership, Connection, Care and Community Formation
The Gift of Trials
Easter, It's Impossible to Overreact
Good Friday | In the Waiting (Plano)
Good Friday 2020
Plagues, Censuses, and Leadership
Leaders That Create Churches Others Are Thankful For: Plano Launch
Evening with the Elders
The Gospel Through Marriage
Our Lens: The Gospel
A Biblical View of Marriage
Who We Are
The Richness of the Gospel
Fort Worth Transition Update
Experiencing Our Purpose in Christ
Resources mentioned online can be found on our Easter page.
Who in your life does not know Jesus that you’ve been praying for? Share one or more of these resources with them this week and engage them in a conversation afterward.
He is risen…He is risen indeed! While coronavirus is keeping us from gathering together corporately this Easter, it cannot keep us from celebrating, teaching and reminding each other that Christ is alive! Don’t make the mistake of under reacting to the message of Easter.
Good morning. Happy Easter. We are so thrilled to be with you. We're hanging out out here today. It's brighter. It's a beautiful day outside. It rained a little bit this morning if you're watching this a little bit later, but it's full of sunshine and hope inside what is usually the place that we gather, so we thought we would gather with you here this morning. We're so glad we're going to have a few moments to talk about why Easter is such a big deal.
We are in the middle of Easter of 2020 when there has been this little bit of distraction called the coronavirus. There has been so much debate as to whether or not people have overreacted to the coronavirus, whether our government officials have made the right decision or not and whether we should have done some vertical isolation as opposed to all the horizontal. That's why we pray for kings and those who are in authority.
I just want to start by saying I do know that many of you who have been watching this have been severely affected by this, either just with fear or with job loss and some even with a more deeply personal loss. It's why this Easter is so meaningful. I am not really sure if everything that's being done around the coronavirus is an overreaction or an underreaction. What I am very sure about is that it's impossible to overreact at the good news of Easter. It's completely possible that you would way underreact, and we don't want to make that mistake.
We're going to spend some time this morning talking about why this one event, this singular event in history, is the most important event in all of history, and it's what gives you stability and hope not just during times when there is a constant reminder of the death and sickness and disease that is imminent in all of our lives, but it's the most important truth even in times of blessing and prosperity, because blessing and prosperity are not all of our destinies.
Good health is only the slowest possible path to death, because we are a people who have been separated from the God of life because of this thing called sin. We're going to explain that to you this morning, but let's start with a little bit of fun about overreactions and underreactions. We are all friends of the GIF that's out there.
Here's a young man who was absolutely freaking out because he was certain death was imminent, and he needed somebody to come alongside of him and help him out and set him on that solid ground that was there and find out, "Hey, it's not as bad as I thought it was." I hope this morning that's exactly what happens to you: you go from this moment of sheer horror to being reminded that there's something solid. That young man overreacted to his condition until somebody showed him what was true.
There are so many other GIFs that have a little bit of an overreaction. Soccer is the sport of overreaction. A guy flicks a man's ear, and it looks like it was in the garden of Gethsemane when Peter cut off Malchus' ear. It was just a bit crazy. This is a great little GIF. Here's a young kid just freaking out about something his Penguins had done. He was pretty doggone excited. That might have been an overreaction, whatever is happening in his hockey game, but it's sure fun watching.
Then I love this one. We've all gotten videos from friends that they tell us to watch. Look at the guy's wife under the table. She grabs him, scares him, and he is out of there. I don't have any idea if that was staged or not, but we've all had that kind of jump scene, where all of a sudden something gets us and we're not ready for it and it horrifies us and we want to escape the horror that is all around us. Those are some overreactions, you might say, but it's impossible to overreact to what I'm going to talk to you about this morning.
What I don't want you to do is underreact. The Bible says our sin has separated us from God. We all think about different things we always do that are sin or maybe certain behaviors that we think of as sin. Can I just tell you this? The only sin in the world God really cares about…the only primary sin, and everything else is a secondary sin…is the sin in the heart of men that says, "God, I don't really think you're that big of a deal. I don't think you're good. I don't think your Word is true. I don't think disobeying you is that big of a deal."
The Bible says the result of us turning to our own way, believing that we can be our own gods and we can find life apart from God… The Bible says that choice, that lack of faith in the goodness of God is the original sin and is the father of every other sin. Because of that choice, we do all kinds of things to try to find life and to try to satisfy us, to try to give us some sense of purpose and meaning and stability.
We try to do different things or embrace certain chemicals or certain behaviors that will numb us from the horror of the lack of life we're experiencing, and all of those things, again, are secondary sins from the one sin of not running after the God who has run after us. We are sometimes way underreacting to our condition. Kind of like this guy…on fire, but, "No big deal. I think I'll be just fine."
Or we think we can control our ultimate destiny, like this gal. This is amazing. Obviously, there's a catering warming oven, and she walks up. She opens it and thinks she can just blow it out with her own efforts. That's not going to work really well for her. "Eh, I'll just shut it and deal with it later." I wouldn't recommend that to you.
Let me take a moment before we look at why this is such a big deal to ask you to do something. I know no matter what I say, no matter how creative our illustrations are or how much we seek to pull you in, unless the God who loves you lets you see him, you're not going to be able to understand what I'm talking about.
If you've been hanging around with me for a while, you know there are a couple of men I read a lot or I look to who just communicate the truth of God's Word and his love for me in a way that ministers to my soul. One of them is a guy by the name of J.C. Ryle. J.C. Ryle was a pastor who lived about 150 years ago in England. He was a guy who said at one point that he was pretty doggone sure the church he grew up in had never done an effective job of sharing the gospel.
He essentially said, "The plain truth is that for the first 16 or 17 years of my life there was no ministry of the gospel in the churches I attended." Let me explain this to you. I want you to really focus in here. J.C. Ryle said he went to churches in England in the middle of the 1800s, and he said, "I don't think there was a gospel that was preached there for those first 17 years."
It reminded me of a story I heard a friend of mine… Some of you may know the name Tim Keller. He's an effective pastor in New York City. I remember Tim Keller telling a story that he was actually on a committee, if you will, or a team of men who were vetting individuals who were applying to be church planters.
He said about 10 to 15 individuals came through, and they were all sharing their stories and all talking about why they wanted to get involved in gospel ministry, why they wanted to be church planters. Every single one of them said from the very beginning something along the lines of, "I want to do this because the church I grew up in apparently was a lot like the one J.C. Ryle grew up in." They go, "I never heard the gospel growing up."
Eventually, one of the guys in the room goes, "Hey, can I just say something before we welcome the next guy in? Before we think every church out there is not doing a good job and it's amazing that somehow God brought all of these guys who want to plant churches out of churches that never preached the gospel, can I just posit a different kind of possibility?" He said, "Let me share with you my story."
He said, "I also grew up in a church where I never heard the gospel. I ended up going into the military, and while I was in the military I ran into a guy who was with Navigators who sat down with me and explained to me the gospel. That was a point in my life where when I heard it, I received it, and I was changed. I told the guy, 'How come nobody has ever told me this before? I grew up in and around churches, and I've never heard this before. Not only that, but I've been reading Martin Luther's commentary on the book of Galatians, and Martin Luther doesn't even share the gospel in that book.'"
Now listen to this. Martin Luther is the great Reformer, the one who understood that we're saved by Christ alone by faith alone, that the Word of God alone is authoritative. He goes, "Martin Luther didn't even talk about it." The guy looked at him and said something really wise. He said, "You know what? Why don't you go back and reread that commentary to the Galatians?" He said, "When I went back and reread that commentary, the gospel was on every single page."
He goes, "I had underlined it." I mean, the book of Galatians is all about the fact that we are justified, declared by God to be set free from sin and death, and that the Lord has delivered us out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved Son. He goes, "I had read it, I had underlined it, and I just couldn't see it."
Well, listen. I don't think I'm as good of a preacher as J.C. Ryle. I don't think I'm as intellectually stimulating as Tim Keller. I am sure I am not going to be as used of God as Martin Luther, but I want to tell you what you need to do so that at the end of today you won't say, "That church doesn't preach the gospel," because you're going to hear it about six different ways, but you're not going to hear it unless you humble your heart.
I have been asking hundreds of friends to pray for you, and I'm going to ask you to stop right now and pray with me. I'm going to ask you to do what wise men have always done. God says, "To this one I will look: to he who is humble in heart, contrite in spirit, and who trembles at my word." There's a verse in Ephesians in chapter 1, verse 18, where Paul says, "I am praying that the eyes of your heart would be enlightened, so that you might know what is the hope of his calling and what are the riches of his glory and the inheritance he has offered you as a saint."
Here's what I want you to do. I want you to pray. Even if you don't have a relationship with God, if you're not sure God is there, don't you think it makes sense to say, "Lord, if you're there, if you're real, if what this guy is saying is legitimate, don't let me miss it. Don't let me shut the door on certain trouble. Don't let me walk around like a man on fire if there is a way I can be given new life." Let's pray together.
Father, I pray for my friends who are listening right now, that they would seek you with all of their heart, they would just humble themselves, and they would say, "Father, would you show me what I do not know? God, if you're there, would you awaken my dark, cold heart? Would you give me ears to hear? Would you show me the trouble I'm in? Would you not make this an intellectual exercise, a cultural response, but would you give me a deep sense of your love for me and of the truth of Jesus Christ being your Son who you sent into the world to take my sin so you could maintain your justice and also show love to me?"
Father, I pray right now for anybody listening to this that you would powerfully open the eyes of the hearts of any who don't know you, that they would at least hear the story, and if they want to reject it, they would know what they're rejecting. This Easter morning, would you raise them from the deadness of sin and self-reliance and religion, and would you let them see the beauty of your Son? In Jesus' name, amen.
If you've been around churches or Bible-believing people for any amount of time, you've heard a verse in Jeremiah 29:11. You may not know that's the address, but it is a verse that basically says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans not for calamity but for your welfare, plans to give you a future and a hope.'" God wants you to have a future and a hope.
Now listen. The context of that verse is that the people he wrote that to were in a lot of trouble, and they were going to go into exile, but he was going to remove them from that trouble one day and bring them out when they prayed to him and called to him. It doesn't necessarily even mean that generation, that specific person was going to get to come back. It just means to the nation. It was a promise that was given to a specific group of people at a specific time that he was not done working with them, even though there was going to be a consequence to their rebellion.
Let me just encourage you with this. Those verses can apply to you today, because I know that God's desire for you… God doesn't want anyone to perish. That's why there is still an Easter 2020. That's why the coronavirus has not ended your days: because he's patient toward you, not wanting you to perish but for you to come to eternal life.
This is what it says after Jeremiah 29:11. In verse 12, it says, "When you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you." Then it says in verse 13, _ "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." _ In Luke, chapter 11, Jesus is talking to his disciples about prayer, and this is what he says: "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you."
Now we're in Luke 11:10. "For everyone who asks, receives; everybody who seeks, finds; to everybody who knocks, the door will be opened." Now watch. You have a good God, and he's not going to make a mistake to give you bad gifts when you ask him for good gifts. It says, "If you're a father and your son asks for a fish, are you going to give him a snake?" It says in Luke 11:12, "If he asks for an egg, are you going to give him a scorpion?" Of course not.
Here's the prayer I want you to hear. In verse 13, Jesus says very clearly this is the gift that every time you ask for it, every time you seek it, every time you knock, God is going to give you. I'm saying all this because I'm begging you to listen. Some of you have grown up in churches that did preach the gospel, and you've embraced it intellectually. You've made a decision. "I'm not Muslim. I'm not an atheist. I'm not a Buddhist. I'm not a universalist. I embrace the Christian idea."
Intellectually embracing the Christian idea is not what the Bible calls you to. Christianity and the gospel is not a propositional statement that's either true or false. Christianity is a person, the person of God who loves you and seeks you. This is what it says in Luke 11:13: _ "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" _
Christians, people who know and embrace the truth of Easter, are saved by grace, not things they do. They don't earn it. They're saved by grace through faith, not as a result of works. Even faith itself, it says in the Scripture, is a gift from God. What you need to do right now is ask God, "God, will you give me the gift of faith?"
Not the gift of understanding the intellectual story but the gift of really believing that the grave is empty, that Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father and, behold, he's coming quickly, where he will recompense judgment and render to men according to his deeds; that the way we live now really matters and it's impossible to overreact to the Easter story.
Father, I pray that somebody right now is asking, "Lord, give me the gift of the Spirit. Let me see." Why? Because the word of the cross is foolishness to those who don't believe. The Scripture says it's a stumbling block to religious people and foolishness to folks who go, "I'm just not going to go there. I'm going to shut the door of this burning oven of reality of judgment and deal with it later." That won't go well with you.
The Easter story is God unfolding in history things that eye hasn't seen and ear hasn't heard, things which haven't entered into the hearts of men. All of these things, the Scripture says, God has freely given to those of us who believe. When Jesus was here, he would often speak in parables, and the reason he spoke in parables was, frankly, just to limit judgment on people, because the more revelation you have, the more awful it's going to be when you stand before, having to give an account for that revelation.
Every single person watching this should know there's a God who loves them who has rescued them, that God is not waiting for them to perform for him but he has rushed to them in the person of his Son Jesus Christ who rushed to a cross for them, and even though he knew no sin, God made him to become my sin and your sin, and that allowed us, by faith in him, to receive the righteousness of God through the forgiveness of Christ's provision. What an amazing story.
When Jesus was here, he was talking to religious leaders, and in Matthew 21, he told them a story that he kept telling them again and again, "Those of you with ears to hear, please listen. Don't hear my words and not let them affect your heart. Don't be like the seed of the gospel that fell on the road where the birds ate it or fell along the rocky soil where it couldn't take root or fell among the thorns where it was choked out, but pray that God would give you an understanding of your sin, of your need, of your desperation."
When Jesus was here, he told a story in Matthew 21 about an owner of a vineyard. That owner of the vineyard in Matthew 21 just says this. I'll read it to you. Matthew 21:33-44. He says, "Here's another parable that I beg you that you would open your ears to hear." _ "There was a landowner who _ _ planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower __ , and rented it out to the vine-growers and went on a journey." _
In Isaiah, chapter 5, Jesus describes the nation he went to as a vineyard, and Jesus is saying, "This vineyard I've revealed myself to is set up for success. There's a wall around it. There's life in it. There's a wine press. There's a tower to watch for predators and enemies." And he rented this vineyard out to people to be caretakers of it. Then it says, starting in verse 34:
_ "When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son…" _
This is Jesus, and he's saying, "I'm the son who has come." In the story, the slave-owners were the religious leaders of Israel. It's, frankly, anybody who has been given the stewardship now of the coming of Christ who denies the prophets, doesn't listen to pastors, doesn't listen to friends, doesn't listen to illustrations about God's love, or doesn't look at history, and just murderously rejects the Son.
Jesus says that these guys, when the son came, said, _ "This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance." _ Verse 39: _ "They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him." _ So Jesus asks a very simple question: "What do you think he will do to these vineyard servants, these vine-growers, when he comes?" Listen to the words of those who listened to what he said.
"I'll tell you what he'll do. He's going to bring those wretched wretches to a wretched end, and he's going to give that vineyard and that opportunity for people to know him and serve him and love him to somebody else." I just want to tell you this. The gospel is going to go forth today. Somebody is going to receive it and believe it and do what every true believer does. Their life is going to be altered by it. It's going to change their everything.
If the gospel doesn't change your everything, I don't think you really understand the gospel. It changes how you date. It changes how you work through conflict. It changes what you think is fun. It changes not that you'll never sin again but how you deal with your sin. You make war against it. It changes your appetite and heart for God's people. It changes your appetite and heart for God's Word, and it's impossible to overreact to it.
But the people who reject it… This is what it says in 2 Thessalonians 1:9: _ "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…" _ This could not be more serious, but you need to know this about God's Word. It is not a rulebook God is asking you to follow. No. God has sent his Son to give you the fruit of salvation, and what you need to do is believe. Here's one of the assets we've created for you. Have you ever wondered what the message of the Bible is? Well, here it is in 60 seconds.
I go, "Can I just take 60 seconds and tell you what the Bible says?" The guy says, "Go. Sixty seconds." I go, "It just says this. It's not a rule book you have to obey in order to earn the love of God. The Bible is about God's rescue mission. God created man to enjoy him. Man thinks we don't need God to enjoy life. We go our own way. But when you leave the God who is wise and perfect and light and love and you're imperfect and not very wise, you sometimes choose hate and darkness.
That's what defines our world, because men think they can live without God, but God doesn't leave us in that. God tries to rescue us from that. He made provision for our sin so he can still be holy and just and yet a rescuer of those he loves. He sent Jesus who claimed to be God. Our world pivots on him. He kind of made it obvious to you, because that resurrection event happened and the wages of sin, which is death, is there. God isn't mad at you. He loves you, and he wants you to know him so you can have life indeed."
[End of video]
A creative friend of mine heard me give a message one day where I shared an illustration about a conversation I was having with a guy when I asked, "Do you know what the Bible says?" and that was what I ended up saying to him. I shared that in a message I had done here at Watermark sometime past, and he took that little clip and made that incredible little video that, again, is available for you where the sermon notes for this particular message will be at watermark.org underneath resources and messages.
Or you can just go to my Instagram or my Twitter account (@wordsfromwags), and you'll see it there. Take that and share it with other people. There's another resource that's two minutes long that's coming to you in just a second that's going to further drive for clarity. It is impossible, guys, to overreact to Easter. I'm going to give you one example, and then I'm going to read you a little bit more Scripture, and then we're going to just encourage each other with an opportunity to respond the way we should and give you a resource.
One of the things I would recommend you do is that you would look at people in history who are worth emulating or following. There are a couple of them I talk about a lot. One is a guy named C.T. Studd. First of all, what an amazing name. I mean, Charles Thomas Studd. Here's a picture of him later in his life, and I show you the later picture because he doesn't look like much of a stud right there. That was after Charles had spent some time both in China and in India, and later started a mission to Africa, just giving his life.
C.T. Studd said some amazing things. He basically said, "If it's true that Christ is God and he died for me, then no sacrifice is too great." C.T. Studd rightly said it's true that people who really know Jesus… God's real people have always been fanatics. C.T. Studd was not always this middle-aged guy with a receding hairline. There was a time when he was one of the most celebrated athletes in all of England.
In the middle 1800s, the number-one sport was not "flick your ear, fall over, and get a red card" soccer. The number-one sport in the nineteenth century in England was cricket. C.T. Studd was one of the nation's heroes. Here's a picture of young C.T. Studd when he was at Cambridge and when he was a celebrated professional, if you will, cricket player, one of the most celebrated guys in the country. He played on the national team.
C.T. Studd said this when he made the decision, after he came to know Christ, to leave an opportunity to be a celebrated athlete in his homeland, after he had come to know the love of Jesus and Easter, to join up with seven other students from Cambridge (they were called the Cambridge Seven) and go serve with a guy named Hudson Taylor in China.
After he did that for a while, he went and started a church in southern India, and after he was in southern India, he heard about the condition of the people in Africa who didn't have the gospel, so he went and led and started a mission himself there. This is what C.T. Studd said, and I really think it's helpful.
He said, "I do not say, 'Don't play games or cricket' and so forth…" Right now, I've talked about the fact that with the shutting down of our professional sports leagues and all that, it has been almost amazing how much time that's recaptured for people who enjoy sports, like I do, but I think they've gotten to an unhealthy place.
This is what C.T. Studd said. He goes, "I do not say, 'Don't play games or cricket' and so forth. By all means play and enjoy them, giving thanks to Jesus for them. Only take care that games do not become an idol to you as they did to me. What good will it do to anybody in the next world to have been the best player that ever has been? And then think of the difference between that and winning souls for Jesus."
My sons and I were watching the very end of a replay of the 2010 NBA finals. It's when the Lakers beat the Celtics in seven games. We were sitting there watching. Actually, I was walking by the room when they were in there, and I went, "Guys, why are you watching that? I mean, come on. Turn that off." I just went, "Can I just tell you something? It was amazing to watch Kobe win another ring, but I will assure you that Kobe doesn't care about that ring. Kobe cares about something much more important, and it's what you need to care about."
I have no idea where Kobe personally was in his own understanding of the gospel. My understanding was that he was at some form of worship even the morning before he went to coach his daughter's basketball game, but this isn't about Kobe; this is about you and about Jesus. It's not about C.T. Studd; it's about you. What are you going to do in response to Jesus' love for you?
I want to read you one more thing C.T. Studd said. It's really excellent. He said, "Let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven, without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Let us see to it that the Devil will hold a thanksgiving service in hell when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle."
I want you to think about how the world responded when a celebrated athlete lost his life tragically at the beginning of 2020, and I want to challenge you to think about if hell will rejoice when you're out of commission from taking the gospel forward to other people or if hell will rejoice because you've rejected the gospel and embraced a fool's way that says, "God is not good. His Word is not true. Blowing off Easter is not that big of a deal. I'll shut the door on time and let judgment burn out on its own time." Don't underreact to Easter.
I want to remind you that one of the ways even more people watching this are underreacting to Easter is by embracing it intellectually but not radically following who Christ is. In Matthew, chapter 15, Jesus talked about people like this. He says, "Rightly did the prophet Isaiah speak of you, you hypocrites, when you talk about the fact that there is judgment coming for living as if God is not there but you largely go on living the same way those who don't really understand the meaning of Easter do."
He quotes from Isaiah, chapter 29, when he says, "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." There's a message here for all of us. If you haven't responded to who Jesus is, make sure you don't miss who he is this Easter. If you have responded with your lips, make sure your heart, your obedience, your following him is consistent with what you say. People say what they think, but they do what they believe.
Well, 1 Corinthians 15. This is what Paul says you ought to believe. _ "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand _ [if you believe in Jesus]_ …" _ I'm going to give you a very clear explanation in just a moment about how you can do that. _ "…by which also you are saved, if _ [you don't just spout out words but] _ you hold fast the word which I preached to you…" _ That last little phrase, which says, _ "…unless you believed in vain…" _
There are a couple of ways to have vain belief. One way is to think if you just agree with that proposition, that's enough. The Bible rejects that. You confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart in a way that reprograms everything about you. You're no longer conformed to the world, but you're transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you can experience God's intention for you, both as one who is blessed and then one who lives by being a gospel preacher to be the blessing of others. That's the story of Easter.
Here's the other thing. This is why Easter is such a big deal to us. When it says, "…unless you believed in vain," let's just follow through with what Paul's logic is right there. He goes on and says in verse 13, "If there is no resurrection, then Christ is dead and he hasn't been raised." And if Christ hasn't been raised, then what I'm saying this morning is just crazy, and it's vanity. It has no purpose, no effect.
There's no good reason to be a Christian apart from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's why it says God declared with power that he was who he said he was. He's not just some myth. Our world's history pivots on his death, burial, and resurrection. These are the years of our Lord where the gospel is going forth. Will you receive it?
Jesus wasn't a liar. He said, "Destroy this temple, and I'll rebuild it in three days." That's why he was raised from the dead. He's not a lunatic. He wasn't deluded. He didn't have a messianic complex; he was the Messiah. And he wasn't a demon. He didn't tell people to trust in him when he was nothing but a man. No, he was very God of very God, and he died for you and for me. Paul is saying if the resurrection didn't happen… Listen to what he says.
_ "Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins." _
Oh man. Easter was God's final seal to let us know our debt had been paid. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through our risen King Jesus. Watch this short two-minute video that's going to be available to you to download and share with others. Check this out.
Have you ever wondered what the big deal is with Jesus, why everybody talks about him all the time, why folks think you should know him? Here's why Jesus should matter to all of us. God created us to have relationship with him, but this thing called sin separates us from God. The Bible says it this way: all of us have sinned, and all of us fall short of the glory God intended for us.
Imagine you're on a cliff, and over on the other side of this canyon is God. Too many people think the way we can bridge that canyon is with our own efforts…going to church, reading the Bible, being philanthropic, loving your neighbor, being moral. While all of these things are good, none of them are good enough to bridge the gap that separates us from God. You see, this isn't just a little chasm. Don't think the Grand Canyon. Think wider than that. It's wider than anybody can imagine.
So I don't care what kind of athlete you are. You can take whatever kind of running start you want, and you're always going to fall short. The wages of sin is death. So, how do you bridge the gap? The free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, and the Bible tells us we'll receive that gift by faith. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
It's with the heart a person believes and it results in righteousness, and it's with the mouth you confess, resulting in salvation. This is why Jesus is such a big deal. His death made provision for your sins. His death covered your sins. His death bridged the gap. There is no other way to God except through him. Jesus is the way, Jesus is the truth, and Jesus is the life.
So what do you do? You pray this: "Father, forgive me, for I'm a sinner. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for his cross. Father, I trust in him, and I believe that Jesus is Lord. I believe you raised him from the dead, declaring with power that he's the Son of God. Jesus bridges the gap of my sin, and it's the gift of his life for me that sets me free." Now you know why Jesus is such a big deal. Believe it and share it.
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There's a lot of information there compressed into two minutes, and I want you to go back and listen to it. I want you to go back and share it with others. You are blessed to be a blessing, so may that truth of that Easter message be a blessing to you. Let us know if you've made a decision. Again, the prayer… It's not the magic words but the attitude of the heart when you embrace the truth and wonder of God's love for you. That's the means through which you're reconciled to God.
I want to pray for you right now, give you a chance to do that, and I want to remind you: if you have embraced the gospel story, if you believe in the risen King, you should be a part of a healthy community of church that teaches God's Word, that calls you to devote yourself daily to learn from him, to pursue others relationally, to live authentically, confessing your sin so you might be healed, and to admonish each other toward greater faithfulness; to be around people who counsel you biblically, and then to be engaged missionally.
If you're not doing that, you might be some of those people Jesus was talking about in Matthew 15:8. "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." First Thessalonians is a book we're studying, and in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 there are these words: _ "For you yourselves know full well _ [or I'm telling you right now] _ that the day of the Lord _ [which is the season of God's judgment] _ will come just like a thief in the night." _
The coronavirus has jumped up on a lot of us and made us go, "Wow! This world isn't as secure and stable as I thought. Our economy can change in a moment. My health can change in a moment." Well, the coronavirus is going to look like a joke compared to the coming of the day of the Lord. Today is the day of salvation. God is not slow as some count slowness, but he's patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but all to come to eternal life.
My prayer is that the coronavirus of 2020 is going to be the time when a lot of people say, "That's when I got clarity about who Jesus was." I pray the eyes of your heart have been enlightened. I pray that you acknowledge your sin and separation from God, your anxiety, your fear, your vain effort to try to find life through all the world offers. I pray that God strips it away from you, and I pray you run to him.
I pray you're weary, I pray you're heavy-laden and burdened, and I pray you come to Jesus and find the grace God intends for you through the gift of his Son, crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected for you. Let me pray, and then we're going to play one of the songs we wrote, "King of Victory." We're going to let you watch one more time a communal singing of it, and then I'll come back and close. Let me pray.
Father, thank you for my friends and a chance to be with them this morning. I pray you would have opened the eyes of their hearts, that they would come to believe, and I pray for their awareness of sin, the awareness of the danger of their state, that destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with a child. Don't let them sleep, Lord, as others do, but let them be alert, sober, and respond to the gospel, as the Scripture says.
Let them confess their sin. Let them seek your cross with all their heart. Let them rejoice in the resurrection as evidence of their hope. Let them be yours. Let them be faithful. Let them be ministers of the gospel who are fanatics like C.T. Studd, who live their lives not in vain things but in a way that evidences that they don't just think something about you; they believe it, that you are Lord and you're risen from the grave, that you have taken death's sting and have taken the grave's victory.
Lord, we thank you that the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is in the law and in our inability to follow it, but thanks be to you who gave us life and victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank you that he is our King of victory and that we can worship him and encourage each other. We love you. We celebrate that truth now. In Jesus' name, amen.
Oh man! It is so fun to see all of our friends who jumped in and helped us put together that little compilation, friends all across all of our Watermark campuses singing that amazing song. I pray that now you're unleashed into the day and you use those resources we created for you. You don't have to do what C.T. Studd did and go to China or India or Africa physically. You can go there through social media and splash that truth all around the world. The Bible in 60 seconds, the gospel in two minutes, and your life until he returns.
If you made a decision for Christ, would you let us know? If you have been just cultural in your understanding, would you repent? Wake up from your delusion and follow the King of victory. Hey, if you want to just keep the music going now, you can. There are going to be two more new songs we're about to drop out there very, very soon that you can listen to. It'll kind of be their world premiere.
One is called "You Are," and it just tells the whole gospel story right in the middle of it. Listen to it, and one after that that I think you're going to really, really love called "Holy Surrender." So, we love you. We'd love to know how to serve you. I pray that you know who he is and that you wholly surrender to him. Happy Easter.