Friday, April 1, 2016

New Life in Jesus Christ


The truth is all of us have spiritual and emotional wounds. Some were hurt by other people; others were hurt by circumstances. A few were wounded in the church. Many have caused a lot of pain and hurt in other people’s lives; this brings on guilt and regret. Life isn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. We must deal with reality.

 

Jesus came to heal us of our wounds. Once, when Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners, he talked about his healing mission.

 

Luke 5:31-32 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

 

If you are here today, broken or hurting, you are in the right place. Christianity isn’t a game. It isn’t pretend. The church isn’t a club or an event that we attend. The church is a hospital for the hurting and broken—people who have been diagnosed with a sin problem.

 

“Sometimes, dealing with sin is not a pleasant experience. It can often be downright painful.”

 

“If you have an upset stomach, there are a few things you can do to try to feel better. Maybe you will lie down and hope that the feeling will pass. Maybe you can eat some bland foods in hopes that your stomach will settle. Sometimes you may go to the nearest drugstore to purchase some medicine you think may help you. If that medicine doesn’t help you, you may go back to the drugstore and pick up two or three more bottles of medicine that may be a bit stronger. But after all of this, if your efforts don’t work, if the over-the-counter solution is not working, you may make the decision to call the doctor. You decide to go to the expert because maybe something deeper is wrong. So you go to the doctor and tell him your symptoms. The doctor may decide to put you through a battery of tests. He could take blood, or do an X-ray. In order to look into your symptom with specialized equipment, he may even make you drink stuff that tastes even worse than all the medicine you used before from the drugstore.”

 

“All of these tests may leave you feeling more miserable than before you came to see your doctor. With all the poking, prodding, and pressing, you may feel worse now than before. Why would the doctor make things worse? Simple: he’s looking for something deeper.”

 

“When the doctor gets the test back and tells you that you have an ulcer, you will be glad you went to see him for help. Why? Because there is no way, you could have known about this problem on your own. Because of his tests, which make things worse for a while, you are able to discover the root of your problem.”[1]

 

I want to you to think about the most painful wound—the deepest wound. If a team of doctors stepped out of your hospital room, they might decide what issue needed to take priority in their treatment plan. Let’s think about that wound. What is it?

 

The wound that has put each of us in critical condition is self-inflicted. Sin is the wound. It has serious consequences. This wound shut down your relationship with God and continues to impact negatively every other relationship in your life.

 

God created the world in perfection and declared that it was good. He created people; he made them good, too. We messed everything up. Because of our broken world, there are sicknesses, death, disasters, and accidents. All of creation wants this problem fixed.

 

Romans 5:12  Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.

 

What did God do to heal the wounds that sin made in us? He came down to us. Two-thousand years ago, Jesus Christ—God in the flesh—was born of a virgin woman named Mary. When Jesus was thirty, he began to talk about his mission to die on the cross for our sin and to rise again from the dead.

 

John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

 

The resurrection of Jesus is a historical event; it actually happened. It was not something we should put into a category of “spiritual” or something that happened in another dimension. Jesus’ death and resurrection were real events planned by God to cure our sin problem. The resurrection of Jesus happened in space and time.

 

Acts 1:3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

 

So, Jesus appeared for forty days after the resurrection for the purpose of rescuing us from ourselves. He talked about the kingdom of God, a kingdom of healing and peace in which he rules and reigns. In Jesus’ appearances, the people who saw him could see the wounds from the crucifixion for themselves.

 

Jesus did what he did to save us from our sin, give us a future, and rescue us from Hell. Jesus died and rose again to bring us into his kingdom. Your place in the kingdom can begin today. It is a kingdom that is a reality today and extends into eternity future.

 

“For many Christians, then, the expectation of the eternal future is along the lines of a high school reunion that never ends. Now, to be sure, a high school reunion can be a good experience, for four or five hours. The focus of a reunion is on the past. That’s what we talk about: ‘Whatever happened to Leslie Johnson; what’s she doing now?’ or ‘Remember that time that Chad Lee commandeered the intercom, imitating the assistant principal’s voice and announcing that school was letting out half-day?’ All of that can be great unless it goes on for quadrillions of years, at which point the very thought ought to fill us with existential dread. I’ll just say it: if that’s what we’ve been promised, that is boring as hell. And I mean that literally. Hell is a place where human beings are focused on the past, with no future before them (Luke 16:25). That is not the kingdom of God we are waiting for.”[2]

 

“The kingdom of God is not a static existence, nor is it simply a return to the Edenic innocence of the old creation. From the beginning, God declared the universe to be good, but in need of cultivation, of taming. That’s why God’s purpose was to rule the cosmos through a human king and queen, made in his image and commissioned with his authority. They were to create, to cultivate, to see to that all things were under their feet. In the ancient command, there was always the presupposition that life would be growing and expanding, a life filled with family and agriculture and statecraft and artisanship. God’s purpose is not to condemn the world that he made, but to save it (John 3:17). And, in that saving, God is restoring the harmony between humanity and himself, between humanity and nature. That is not the obliteration of what we long for in this present life, but a fulfillment that is far more than we can comprehend now, above all that we could ask or think.”[3]

 

Many have argued against the resurrection. Even people who admire the teachings of Jesus take issue with his resurrection. However, I can find no explanation other than a supernatural resurrection for the events that unfolded in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. More than five-hundred people saw the risen Jesus.  They touched him. They ate with him. They talked with him. Jesus’ disciples were transformed from scared, scattered doubters into the world’s greatest missionary movement.

 

Why is the resurrection so important? When people go shopping and pay for something, they get a receipt. “That receipt validates that they made a purchase. If there is ever a question or if anything ever goes wrong, the receipt proves that the payment was made in full. For Christians, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, the payment for their salvation was paid in full on Friday night when Jesus was crucified on the cross. Early on Sunday morning, the receipt was given. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s receipt for the payment of the death of Christ.”[4]

 

The fact that Jesus is alive today is confirmed by many convincing proofs. The change in the disciples, after the resurrection of Jesus, is a powerful testimony to the living Jesus. All of the disciples who lived to see Jesus crucified were convinced that they encountered the same Jesus in a physical body after his death. They saw the empty grave and graveclothes. The body of the Jesus who died was raised. They saw him with their own eyes. The experience the disciples had with the risen Jesus radically changed how they lived.

 

Think about seeing the risen Jesus from the disciples’ perspective. Jesus stood in their midst. They were frightened. The disciples, initially in shock, thought they saw a ghost. Jesus told Thomas, “Reach your finger and touch my hands and side.” Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.” I’m sure Thomas almost passed out from fear and amazement!

 

One day, you will see Jesus, too. You will look upon him. Imagine that! Our lives now are an internship for eternity. We are being shaped for the future. “The moment you burst through the mud above your grave, you will begin an exciting new mission—one you couldn’t comprehend now if someone told you. And many of the things that seem important now—whether you’re attractive or famous or cancer-free—will seem irrelevant. But many of the things that matter little now will take on a cosmic new significance then.”[5]

 

After Jesus rose from the dead, he asked two disciples an important question on the Emmaus road.

 

Luke 24:26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?

 

Well, was the crucifixion and resurrection a theological and historical necessary? Yes. It was necessary.  He is Jesus, the God, who saves (Matthew 1:21).  Jesus is a man; he joined himself to human nature and lived in this world to identify with us (Philippians 2). He paid our debt of sin with his blood and rose again, conquering death. He is the Christ, the anointed one sent from heaven. He is Lord, the ruler of the universe.

 

Here is the simple good news right out of the Bible:

 

1 Corinthians 15:3-8  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

 

The Gospel is a spiritual message based on historical reality.

 

Your salvation is rooted in four historical events.

 

1. The  finished work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary

2. The resurrection of Jesus

3. The fact that Jesus was  seen by his contemporaries, more than five hundred of them

 

 

The historical reality of the good news demands a response from each person. We turn from sin and self to Jesus, the Savior. We die to self so that we may experience new life, eternal life.

 

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

 

For each of us to experience “newness of life,” Jesus Christ had to die on a cross and rise again. As Christ died on the cross, we die to our sin. We are “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). If a drunk dies, he can no longer be tempted by alcohol because his body is dead to all physical senses. He cannot see it, smell it, taste it, or desire it. If a person caught in sexual sin dies, he or she cannot continue in sexual immorality. When someone who steals dies, they cannot continue to steal; they are dead.[6]

 

The day will come when your new life in Jesus Christ will pay eternal dividends. Both the saved and unsaved will look upon the glorified, risen Christ. The moment will come when every knee shall bow before him.

 

4. A point in time when, by the grace of God, you trust in Jesus as Savior

 

A fourth historical event must take place to reap the benefit of Jesus’ resurrection and the new life he brings: there must be a point in time when, by the grace of God, you trust in Jesus as your Savior.

 

You believe in Jesus by repenting of your sin and turning your life over to him. “Repentance is when you are going south on the highway and then recognize you need to be going north. Repentance isn’t just about thinking changing directions. It isn’t just watching other people go by wondering if they’re going wrong too. Repentance is looking for the next exit, getting off, crossing over, and getting back on the other road on your way home. That’s repentance; it’s turning the other way.”

 

“If you are twenty miles out of the way and decide to change directions you must take the exit ramp. This is the ramp of confession where you agree that you have been going the wrong way. Then you have to cross over the grace overpass where God gives you the opportunity and the privilege to turn around. Confession gets you to the place where you can make that U-turn. Grace crosses you over.”

 

“Now, there is another ramp that you have to take to get back on the highway headed in the right direction. This is the restoration on-ramp. The confession off-ramp leads to the grace overpass, which carries you over and puts you right in front of the restoration on-ramp so that you can begin heading in the right direction.”

 

“Once the turn has been made, and repentance has been accomplished, you may still be twenty miles out of the way. You might be discouraged because you’ve gone twenty miles wrong or maybe twenty years wrong. In fact, many people get stuck here, thinking that since they are already twenty miles out of the way they might as well keep on heading in that same wrong direction.”

 

“The thing to remember is that when taking a trip, the ride coming home always seems shorter than the ride going. There’s something about coming home that shortens the feeling of distance even when the actual distance to cover is the same.”[7]

 

If you have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior, his resurrection is a promise that you will be raised from death, too. Your body will not be left behind. Your whole body, mind, and soul will be redeemed from death. You will be raised like Jesus. You will be like him.

 

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

 

Make history today. Turn from sin and believe in Jesus. The fourth event must take place for you to experience a restored relationship with God and enjoy a new life.



[1]Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book. . ., (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2009), 284.
[2]Russell Moore, Onward, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2015), 50.
[3]Moore, 50.
 
[4]Evans.
[5]Moore, 53-54.
[6]Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Vol. 1,  (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Publishing, 2001), 531.
[7]Ibid.