If a man dies shall he live again?

{The following text is a slightly modified version of a sermon I gave on Easter morning 2016.}

If a man dies, shall he live again?  This question was asked long ago by a man named Job whom the Bible describes as – “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”pexels-photo graveyard.jpg

And what human being hasn’t asked himself that same question; desiring to know if this life here on Earth is all that there is.  Is there more to this life?

Today there are so many different major religions in the world  – in my research I counted over 200 – each one attempting to address this central question – Is there life after death?

Isn’t it interesting that you could take a human being from a big city in North America, and place him with another person from the plains of Africa, and then add another from the frozen tundra in Asia and the only thing they would have in common is a desire for an answer to that question.  Is there life after death?

So what is the truth?  You know this was the exact question I asked the first time I prayed to the sky. I say the sky because I wasn’t sure if God even existed.  I suspected that He did.  So I prayed, “God if you are real all I want to know is the truth about who you are and what that means to me.”

Now, what I found was, as you explore all of the major religions in the world today they all make claims that make you scratch your head, but there is only one major religion in the world today whose central figure claimed to rise from the dead.

-The Mormons have Joseph Smith and where is he?  Dead and in the grave.

-The Jews have Abraham and where is he? Dead and in the grave.

-The Buddhists have Buddha and where is he?

-And so on with Islam and Muhammad, Taoism and Lao-tzu, and the Jehovah     Witnesses and Joseph Rutherford.

But the Christians have this Jesus who is resurrected.

The one thing that Christians and atheists, and everyone in between can agree on is this- all of Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Because if it is true, then everything else is a lie and if it is a lie than being a follower of Christ is without meaning and utterly worthless (read 1 Corinthians 15:12-26).

The truth of the resurrection cuts every single argument for Jesus being God, and the Bible being the written word of God into an either/or argument.

CS Lewis, the famous author and once an agnostic, understood this issue clearly.

He wrote: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Jesus: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg ‑ or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

But if he was a madman why did his disciples go from being fearful cowards  – while Jesus was walking this earth – to confident followers who weren’t afraid to die for their faith – after it is recorded that Jesus was raised from the dead.

For while Jesus was walking this earth it was Peter who denied him three times just as Jesus had predicted:

From Luke chapter 22 – “And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And Peter went out and wept bitterly.”

But after Jesus was raised from the dead – this same Peter – stated the following in front of a large hostile gathering of Jewish people:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

The results of that speech led to over 3000 Jewish people defecting from Judaism and putting their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior. In the same city where less than two months earlier they had witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross.  Their bold and courageous behavior does not make sense unless they knew with absolute certainty that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

And if Jesus was a liar than his followers were liars and everything that is recorded in the Bible is a lie because:

  • The Old Testament prophets predicted that Jesus would be resurrected from the dead.
  • Jesus, himself, predicted his resurrection openly and on numerous occasions.
  • After Jesus rose from the dead it is recorded that he appeared 12 different times to over 500 eyewitnesses in multiple locations over a 40-day period.  Even encouraging and allowing his followers to touch the wounds that his resurrected body displayed, and eating solid food in their presence.

And if Jesus is a liar, and his earliest followers are liars, then I am liar, because friends I am here to tell you that the resurrected Jesus Christ has transformed my life and He lives within me!

Friends there can be no vacillation.  You must take a stand in regards to these statements which are attributed to Jesus:

– For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.

– I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.

– Truly, truly I say to you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

– For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

– For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

– Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

– For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

– For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.

Either Jesus Christ uttered these words from his lips and they are true; or they are a lie, and then in that case, the whole Bible is a lie – because the Bible reveals to us God’s purpose for our creation, and purpose for our lives.

Is there more to your life than just your physical existence?  There is. And what comes of that all depends on who you decide this Jesus Christ is.

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2016 Michael Martin

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