It is my privilege this morning to stand up before you and proclaim, with the Apostle Paul, that Christ was crucified for our sins and rose again on the third day in fulfillment of the Scriptures. This is the Christian faith. There is no Christianity without those Truths. If they are not true then Christianity is a sham.
Recently, during the story about the supposed “Jesus Tomb” an Anglican Bishop was interviewed about what would happen to his faith if they found that Jesus was in the grave. What if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead and was, indeed, still in the Tomb? I’d like to report that the Anglican Bishop gave a Biblical answer but he did not. He said, in effect, that the Resurrection was in his heart and the historical truth of the Resurrection made no difference. That’s a lie. That’s a sham. That Bishop preached a false Gospel.
You see, it is very clear that the death and the resurrection of a literal, flesh and blood human being named Jesus Christ, makes all the difference in the world. Those who were there saw a real, physical body cry out “It is finished!” upon the Cross just before He gave up His soul. At that moment, Christ had completed the sacrifice for Sin that He had come into the world to accomplish. He came to be a sacrifice for sin because, as Paul notes in this passage, men were guilty of sin before God because they belonged to the clan of Adam. They were born in corruption and not only died physical deaths because of the Sin of their first parents but also sinned because they were sinners just like their first parents. The wrath of God rested upon us all.
Our flesh is real. It was created good by God but Sin has caused a break between God and man. Man hates God in His sin and rebels against his Creator and is judged righteously by God for his sin. Death is not natural. It is the result of this Sin.
But God is rich in mercy. God is love. He loved us before we first loved Him and sent His one and only Son into the world to sacrifice Himself for our sin. All the wrath that you and I deserve was spent on Christ if we believe in Him. When Christ called out “It is finished!” it is because Christ’s sacrifice for Sin was complete.
But was that sacrifice accepted?
If Christ is still in the grave then the answer is No. If Christ is still in the grave then God did not accept the sacrifice and you are still in your sins and will be judged. If Christ is still in the grave and all He is for you is somebody that makes this life happier because you “have something nice to believe in” then you are to be most pitied because you deceive yourself that a good feeling will save you from wrath.
But, beloved, Christ is raised. Christ lives! Death could not hold him. His sacrifice was accepted by the Father in your behalf and the Resurrection is the ultimate sign, the ultimate miracle that Christ indeed has victory over the sin and death that alienates you from God. If you believe upon Christ then the judgment for your sin was paid for and you died with Christ on the Cross and, even as He has risen, so you too are risen in newness of life with Him.
But, you say, “I still see Christians that are dying.”
Yes, that is true, but that is because Christ has not yet completely finished putting all enemies under His feet, the last will be death. It’s just a matter of time. Christ has the victory but He is patient and longsuffering and waiting for every man who would believe upon Him to respond to the astounding news of His death and resurrection. The news is going forth throughout the Earth with heralds running to its four corners saying: “Christ has died and risen to save men from sin and death. Believe upon Him!”
God has appointed a day, calling it “Today”. Today, if you hear His voice, believe!. Believe upon Jesus. Believe upon what Christ has accomplished on the Cross and be saved from your sins.
And those who die in Christ are merely waiting. They do not die forever but wait, until one Day, Christ will come again in glory and the dead shall be raised. We who are His will be raised again to be brought to Christ and be told: “You are of MY clan. You are MY people. Enter into eternal life with me.” Our hope is a resurrected body and eternal life with Christ. Christ’s resurrection is a down-payment and proof that, just like Him, we will all be resurrected to live and reign with Him forever. Those who do not believe in Christ will, indeed, die again and be eternally separated from the blessed presence of God to receive the punishment, eternally, for sin.
Indeed, beloved, today is a day when we recall the most important moment in human history. Sin and death were laughing until, on the third day, all heaven broke loose. The chains of death were broken by Christ! Sin and death tried as they might to hold the Son of God but He lives! He lives!
Christ’s sacrifice was accepted! We are no longer under the dominion of sin and death. We have a great story, a great message to shout from the rooftops: Christ is risen from the dead! WHERE, O DEATH IS YOUR VICTORY?! WHERE IS YOUR STING?!
Thanks be to God who gives us victory through Christ Jesus!