Thursday, April 17, 2014

ALIVE FOREVERMORE!

The foundation of the Christian faith begins with the confession that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  The first words of Mark’s gospel point us to this truth: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).  Jesus was not a Son of God in a biological sense, but in a relational sense as a member of the triune Godhead who shared in the divine essence (the nature of God) along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  In the New Testament the title Son of God was also synonymous with the term Messiah. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:47-49). Nathaniel perceived that Jesus was the long-promised Redeemer of Israel who would rule as King of Israel.  But first He must die.

Early on in His ministry, Jesus predicted His death and resurrection: “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said” (John 2:18-22). Several months prior to His death, Jesus began to give more specific details about what awaited Him in Jerusalem. And it came to pass that Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day.  All four gospel writers affirm this truth. Skeptics may try to deny these events, but they are rooted in history, and the existence of the Christian church for over two thousand years speaks loudly about the trustworthiness of Christ’s victory over death and the grave. Christ’s claim to be the Son of God would have been an empty one if  He had not risen, “as he said” (Matthew 28:6). There would be no Christianity.  

As a pastor I have stood at the grave sites of many people who have died knowing Christ as their Savior.  Therefore, I  knew that death was not the end of their existence, but the beginning of another life-- a blessed and glorious life in the presence of God.  I sorrowed not as others who had no hope for someone they loved who “passed away.” Paul wrote to the church of Corinth, in which some were denying a belief in the resurrection of the body: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:19,20). The resurrection of the Christian is predicated upon the resurrection of Christ. If you know Jesus has forgiven you of all your sins by His death on the cross, then you can face death without any fear or uncertainty. The Good Shepherd of the sheep will see you through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23) immediately upon your last earthly breath, and someday, in the future, your dead body will be resurrected and made suitable for heavenly life: Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

As a believer in the Lord Jesus, I can affirm the truth which Peter spoke when he said, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3, NKJV). The resurrection is the celebration of the atonement Jesus made on the cross for sinners. God the Father accepted the shedding of Christ’s blood as a payment for sin.  Speaking of Jesus, the Scripture records in Romans 4:25: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”  A former Buddhist once told a Christian the reason why he became a follower of Jesus, “I was at a turn in the road; who do I follow; the man who is dead or the man who is alive? I chose the One who is alive!"  I hope you choose to follow THE ONE WHO IS ALIVE. 

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death (Revelation 1:18).

Shalom,

Pastor Tom

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