In 1 Cor. 15:42-44 (NKJV) the Apostle Paul states: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” Resurrection power from God is power that this world does not understand. Only the God of the universe can bring a dead body back to life as a glorified body and let it live throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Paul teaches in this same chapter that the dead bodies of Christians will be resurrected when Jesus comes to call us home to heaven (1 Cor. 15:51-57). Baptism is symbolic of resurrection power (Romans 6:3-6). In John 10:18 Jesus states that no man has the power to take His life. Only He has the power to lay it down. He also has the power to take it up again. God gave Him that power, and He will one day use it to bring the dead bodies of Christians out of their graves. Can you imagine what the cemeteries all over the world are going to look like? Unbelievers will go by the cemetaries after the rapture and think that someone has been robbing graves! The power of the resurrection will one day empower us! The Apostle Paul longed for this resurrection power. In Phil. 3:10-11 he said: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Jesus was resurrected from the dead and so will we. The death of a believer before the return of Christ should not cause him to lose hope in sharing in the glorious reign of our Lord! The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus died for our sins. He was buried in a borrowed grave. He arose from the grave on the third day. In John 11:25-26 (NKJV) Jesus states: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus a reality in your life?
In 1 Cor.15:17-19 (NKJV) the Apostle Paul states: “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” The resurrection of our Lord gives us hope as Christians. God’s plan of redemption for the world is complete. In Romans 4:25 Paul tells us that Jesus was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. When we truly repent of our sins, God forgives us just as if we had never sinned. The resurrection vindicates God against all claims that He cannot accomplish His purpose or that He has created a world ruled by injustice. It translates hopelessness into joy. It makes our faith real. The resurrection fulfills the scriptures in Luke 24:45-48 (NKJV): “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.'” The resurrection exalts Christ for who He is: The Head of the Church. Acts 4:10-12 (NKJV) states: “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
The Apostle Paul states in 1 Cor. 15:5-8 (NKJV) “And that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” One of the greatest proofs of the resurrection is that Jesus was seen by all these people. When people see you alive and you are supposed to be dead, it is proof that you are alive! The resurrection proved Jesus to be the Son of God. In Romans 1:4 the Apostle Paul said: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Peter, the man who denied that he even knew Jesus, said: “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:32 KJV). The tomb is empty is another proof of the resurrection. John 20 tells the story of Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, and John looking into the empty tomb and seeing the linen clothes which had been on Jesus’ body, lying in perfect order as if our Lord had just come out of them. What shall we say then of Thomas who said: “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25 KJV). Jesus came to Thomas and let him do as he had requested and Thomas became a true believer. In John 20:28 (KJV) Thomas said: “My Lord and my God.” The Bible tells us in John 20:31 that these things are written the we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we might have life through His name. This proves the deity of Jesus. He was God in the flesh. Jesus presented Himself alive to His devout followers to prove to them and to the world that He is alive. It is interesting that the first person who saw Jesus alive was a woman, Mary Magdalene. As you recall, Jesus had cast seven demons from her and she never forgot it! She got saved and she never got over it! Amazing Grace is still amazing! Jesus knew how much she loved Him. When Mary Magdalene saw the empty tomb, she began to weep because she thought someone had stolen His body. Jesus came to her and said her name. She knew that voice. For those among us who have a caveman mentality toward women, men you must never forget that the Lord Jesus first proved His resurrection to a woman.
David tells us that Jesus will be resurrected in Psalm 16:10-11: “For Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Death posed no threat to David. It posed no threat to Jesus. It poses no threat to the Christian. D.L.Moody, the great evangelist of the 1800’s said: “When you hear that D.L. Moody has died, don’t you believe one word of it for I shall be more alive than I have ever been!” The Apostle Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). David tells us that in the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. Isaiah tells us that it pleased God to crush Jesus and to make His soul an offering for sin. “He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked-But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see his seed, He shall prolong his days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:8-12 NKJV). Jesus predicted His own resurrection. In John 2:19 (NKJV) He states: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Lord Jesus meant what He said and He said what He meant! The prophecy of His resurrection has been fulfilled! He is seated at His Father’s right hand in heaven awaiting His orders to return to take His followers home to heaven! Do you believe this?
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (NKJV) the Apostle Paul states: “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” The word resurrection means arising from the dead. Jesus arose from the grave after He was crucified on the Cross for your sins and my sins and the sins of the world. His resurrection is the foundation for Christian faith, preaching, and hope. If Jesus wasn’t resurrected, then preaching the gospel as I am doing is a lie. Our faith has no meaning, and we have no hope concerning the future. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s final work in achieving His mission of world redemption. As our Lord breathed His last breath from the Cross He said: “Tetelestai”, which means “It is finished.” Jesus had completed God’s redemptive plan for mankind. He had been made sin for us who deserve to die. He suffered the penalty of God’s justice which sin deserved. 2 Corinthians 5:21(NKJV): “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Lee Strobel, a journalist and former atheist, states: “I went to a psychologist friend and said if 500 people claimed to see Jesus after he died, it was just a hallucination. He said hallucinations are an individual event. If 500 people have the same hallucination, that’s a bigger miracle than the resurrection.” Is the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus a reality in your life? If not, let it become real to you on this Easter Sunday as you repent of your sins and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior by faith!
Jesus Tells Us That Hell Is a Real Place
The word Hell is used 22 times in the New Testament. In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man died and found himself in a literal burning Hell, not because he was rich, but because he never repented of his sins and made Jesus his Lord and Savior. You don’t hear much talk about Hell in pulpits across America, but you must know that it is a real place for real people who reject Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Rev. 20:15 (KJV) states: “And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Your name is written in the Book of Life when you repent of your sins and make Jesus your Lord and Savior by faith. Jesus does not send you to Hell. Your rejection of Him sends you to Hell. The Lord Jesus does not desire that anyone live throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity in Hell. In Matt.18:14 (KJV) Jesus states: “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” When you die without Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, it is finished and finished forever. In Hell, there is no higher court to which you may appeal. You will be damned to burn forever and ever without hope, without sympathy. Even the love of God does not extend beyond the portals of Hell. In Luke 19:26 (KJV) Jesus states: “And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” A gulf is a big, wide gap. No one can get to you in Hell and you cannot get to anyone. You have eternal separation from God and man. God will never speak to you again when you go to Hell. You will be alive, conscious, and in full exercise of your faculties, but in torment. The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to him in Hell to just give him one drop of water to cool his tongue. It was too late! In Mark 9:48 Jesus tells us that Hell is a place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Can you imagine burning, but never burning completely up? The thermostat will not be turned down in Hell. In Luke 12:42-48, the Lord Jesus teaches that you will be punished in Hell according to the degree of evil you have done just as you will be rewarded in Heaven for the good you have done after conversion. In Matt. 25:30 Jesus tells us that hell is a place of outer darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth. You cannot comprehend the agony and torment of Hell. It is a real place with real people who rejected Jesus Christ in their life on earth. In Matt.10 Jesus instructed the disciples on going out to proclaim the gospel. He told them that everyone would not listen and that for those who do not listen, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for them. Do you know what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah? Why Should We Win People to Jesus? Jesus Tells Us That Hell is A Real Place.
JESUS TELLS US THAT HEAVEN IS A REAL PLACE
In John 3:3 Jesus told Nicodemus, a religious leader, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God is Heaven. The New Testament refers to Heaven 225 times. People who have truly repented of their sins and made Jesus their Lord and Savior will be in Heaven. Have you been born again? A number of years ago, a precious lady shot and killed her husband. She had endured many years of physical and verbal abuse. She just could not take it anymore. A school teacher who loves the Lord took a man who loves the Lord to see her at her home. He told her about the great love of the Lord Jesus, and she repented of her sins and made Jesus her Lord and Savior by faith. Not long afterward, she became very ill and the prognosis from the doctor was not good. This same man who loves the Lord went to see her in the hospital as she was dying. She was very weak and frail. The man walked by her bedside and leaned over to speak with her. He asked her where she would be living if she did not leave the hospital alive. She pointed her tiny weak finger to heaven! Within a few days, this precious lady was in heaven! She is more alive today than she has ever been! She will not have to stand trial for murdering her husband, nor will she have to go to prison. What is Heaven like? In Luke 23:43 Jesus told the thief who was hanging on his own cross beside Him: “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” In Psalm 16:11 David said: “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” No pleasure in this life can compare with the inexpressible joys of heaven. In 1 Cor.2:9 Paul states: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” For men who are at mid-life, you will not have to experience the three B’s of mid-life: Balding, Bulging, and Bifocals. A man who truly loves the Lord was asked to visit a lady who was dying in the hospital. It was alleged that she was not ready to go to heaven. He began to talk to her and she knew that he was about to ask her if she was ready to meet the Lord in heaven. She interrupted the conversation as she stated: “Brother, I am ready for my new body.” The physical attributes of Heaven are likened unto one gigantic brilliant jewel. The city is pure gold and the walls are made of jasper (Rev.21:11-21). Heaven is a reflection of the glory and power and wealth of the God of the universe. The group Mercy Me sings the song I Can Only Imagine by Bart Mallard. “I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by Your side. I can only imagine what my eyes will see when Your face is before me. I can only imagine. Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for You Jesus, or in awe of You be still? Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing ‘hallelujah’, or will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine…I can only imagine. I can only imagine…when that day comes, and I find myself standing in the Son. I can only imagine…when all I would do, is forever, forever worship you. I can only imagine…” I must admonish you. Heaven is only the home of those who have truly repented of their sins and made Jesus their Lord and Savior by faith. It is called being born again. Have you ever been born again? In the Bible in 1 Cor.6:9-10 it states: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor reviler, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Who will be in heaven? Only those who are born again. Why Should We Win People to Jesus? Jesus Tells us That Heaven Is A Real Place.
(1.) Jesus Commands Us To Do So
In Acts 1:8 Jesus told His followers before He went home to Heaven: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” The Greek word for witnesses is martures. This is the same word as martyr. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to be so committed to reaching men, women, boys, and girls for Jesus that we are ready to die as martyrs if need be. A genuine, Spirit-filled Christian becomes by nature a witness for the Lord Jesus. When you live in deep communion with the Lord Jesus, the life of Jesus will naturally flow from your lips. Dr. Darrell Robinson states: “Sharing Christ is both the natural expression and the obedient lifestyle of a true believer. It is the outflow of the overflow of the inflow of the Christ-filled life.” Why does the Lord Jesus command us to be His witnesses? Over 93,000 people die every day all over the world without Jesus! They do not go to heaven. They go to hell! Jesus specializes in finding lost people and saving them. In Luke 15 this same Jesus tells the story of a lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son. They were all found and great rejoicing took place. Jesus parallels these stories with lost people being saved. In Luke 15:10 Jesus states: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Heaven throws a party when one person is born again. All down through the ages, the living God of heaven and earth has called men and women to go and be His witnesses and to make disciples of all nations. He is calling you. Will you go? John Knox pleaded before God: “Give me Scotland or I die!” Hudson Taylor, broken over the fate of the unreached multitudes in China, prayed: “I feel that I cannot go on living unless I do something for China.” Upon landing in India, Henry Martyn said: “Here I am in the midst of heathen midnight and savage oppression. Now, my dear Lord, let me burn out for thee.” Adoniram Judson, the famed missionary to Burma, spent long, tiresome years translating the Bible for that people. He was eventually put into prison because of his work, and while there his wife died. After being released, he contracted a serious disease that sapped what little energy he had left. Nevertheless, he prayed, “Lord, let me finish my work. Spare me long enough to put the saving Word into the hands of the people.” James Chalmers, a Scottish missionary to the South Sea Islands, was so burdened for the lost that someone wrote of him: “In Christ’s service he endured hardness, hunger, shipwreck, and exhausting toil, and did it all joyfully. He risked his life a thousand times and finally was clubbed to death, beheaded, and eaten by men whose friend he was and whom he sought to enlighten.” Although he was unable to go overseas, Robert Arthington enabled countless others to go. By working hard and living frugally he managed to give over $500,000 to the work of foreign missions. He testified: “Gladly would I make the floor my bed, a box my chair, and another box my table, rather than that men should perish for want of the knowledge of Christ.” N.T. Dellinger, a 40 year missionary to Belize and El Salvador in Central America said this to me with tears streaming down his face in February 2001: “I don’t want to see anybody go to hell.” These faithful saints, and many others like them, have clearly understood the wrath and the judgment of God and the consequent horror of men dying without Christ. Without such understanding, there is no basis for evangelism. Ask the living God of heaven and earth to break your heart for people who are on their way to hell. Why Should We Win People to Jesus? (1.) Jesus Commands Us To Do So.
In Luke 19:1-10 we read the beautiful and poignant story of the Lord Jesus reaching out to Zacchaeus, a despicable tax collector. We can clearly see how the heart of Almighty God beats for a lost world. Jesus was determined to be Zacchaeus’ Savior and Lord. This is the only place in all the gospels where Jesus invited Himself to be someone’s guest. Zacchaeus gladly received Jesus into his home, as well as into his heart. By making restitution for his sins, Zacchaeus publicly wanted the people to know that his time with Jesus had changed his life. Jesus publicly affirmed Zacchaeus’ decision by stating: “This day is salvation come to this house.” Then, the Lord Jesus announced His purpose in living in verse 10: “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The Greek word for seek is zeteite (dzay-the-ee-the). It means to go after, to strive, to pursue, to desire, to aim at, to search for, to endeavor to get, to make that which is most important your primary concern. The primary concern of Jesus is to save a lost soul. Why should we win people to Jesus? (1) Jesus commands us to do so, (2) Jesus tells us that Heaven is a real place, and (3) Jesus tells us that Hell is a real place.
To be a new you in 2016 you must stay on course. You stay on course by prayer, tithing, Bible study, and witnessing (soul winning).
(C) Bible Study – 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV) states: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” All Southeastern Conference football player Steve Robinson presented a new New American Standard Bible to me in 1984 for assisting him as a volunteer in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Steve penned these words in the Bible, “I pray that you’ll read this precious Word of our Lord every day for it will change your life.” Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) states: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The Word of God is pure, and it is the Christian’s road map for life. You need a map (GPS) when you do not know where you are going. As believers, we walk by faith, not by sight. So, we need the Bible. Psalm 119:11 (NKJV) states: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Meditate on God’s Word daily to stay on course in 2016.
(D) Witnessing (Soul Winning) – What did Jesus say in Acts 1:8 before He went to heaven? “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We are to tell others about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We are to lead them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. More than our words, though, we witness with our actions, our attitudes, and our lifestyle. People watch us every day. We are the only Bible many of them ever read. Do you really want to stay on course in 2016? Be a bold witness for your Lord!
Do you really want to be a new you in 2016? You can be, but you must remember that your life must be lived according to God’s standards, and not man’s. God’s economy functions differently than does man’s economy. You cannot live the way you want, claim to be a Christian, and expect God to bless you. Almighty God blesses a nation according to the individual lives of its people. Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV) states: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Righteousness begins in each heart in each family. To be a new you in 2016 you must be born again, you must be committed to Christ, you must be disciplined, and you must stay on course as a Christian by prayer, tithing, Bible study, and witnessing (soul winning). Live for Christ radically in 2016! Take what you are learning in your church into the marketplace of the world!