"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies ' "(John 11:25).
Years ago, David Straub, the Coordinator of the Reformed Baptist Mission Services, sat at our dining room table and told us about his trip to Africa. I remember how enthralled he was about being able to visit the land in which David Livingstone had ministered. Also, I will never forget a fascinating story he told me of a believer who had come to Christ after a frightening encounter with a crocodile. Let me tell you about it.
The fellow was standing by the bank of a river when a crocodile grabbed a hold of him and pulled him into the water. Try as he might, he could not break free. The next thing he remembered was awaking in a dark, smelly place. He realized he was laying underground in a crocodile’s lair. He was no doubt shelved for a later meal. Not knowing what to do, he cried out to God to save him. No sooner did he start praying than dirt began to fall on his face from the ceiling of his entombment just inches above him. The dirt kept falling until a little light streamed in. A bird was pecking a hole over his head. Realizing he was not far from the surface he began frantically to dig his way out, crying for help. Others were nearby and helped to dig him out. Due to the kind providence of God in answering his prayers, the man was lifted from darkness and death into light and life. He not only was delivered from the crocodile, but he counted that day as the day he came to know Christ as His Savior and Lord. The God who saved Him from death, could be trusted to save his soul.
Today is Easter Sunday, the day Christians world-wide celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the grave. It is significant because in Christ’s resurrection, we, too. go from death to life. We are set free from a three-fold dominion of death. Because of the grace of God, the Christian is raised out of a spiritual death, a temporal physical death, and an eternal death. Unbeknownst to many, everyone born into this world are in bondage to these three aspects of death. Everyone could be said to be dead while they live, although they feel very much alive. Jesus came that we might be freed from death’s power and that we might be given life. In the resurrection, Christ came to raise the dead.
The death we experience in this life is like the Carley Simeon song with the lyrics, “something inside has died, and I can feel it. I just can’t shake it.” It is a loss of affection for God as He is portrayed in the Bible. It is a disinterest in living in the ways of God. This is what spiritual death looks like. Most people do not want God to rule over them. They want, just like Adam and Eve, to be their own god, to live their own life, and to do their own thing, without any interference from God.
You may object. How can that be true? People are religious by nature. There are many religions in the world that demonstrate the fact that people seek after God. However, are their gods, the same as the God of the Bible, or are they the product of human imagination? Is their view of God based upon what God has revealed about Himself, or is it based upon shaping God’s revelation to fit their views?
A person can use the Bible and fashion a god of his fancy; selecting verses to buttress his view of God. However, a God of love, that is not also holy, is not the God of the Bible. To envision a God who made heaven but did not create Hell is to display ignorance of the Bible. A simple straightforward reading of the Gospels will make it evident that Jesus spoke more about the danger of Hell than about the blessings of Heaven.
So, there is a downward progression in the Bible’s description of death. Starting with alienation from God (spiritual death), it leads to physical death and judgment (eternal death). The “good news” of the Bible is that Jesus came into the world to deal with death, sin’s penalty, that penalty evidenced in the curse that came upon all men because of sin. By His death on the cross, Jesus bore the consequence of our sins. He was buried, but He did not stay there. Rising from the dead, Jesus gave new life to those who were formerly dead. Paul says this clearly in Ephesians 2:1–5.
"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ."
Today, we are going to look at the Christian’s new life that is ours due to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Outline for this Easter message:
Handel’s Messiah covers the same theme as this sermon, Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and Handel’s musical masterpiece climaxes in praise to God.
Would you like to hear more? Lord willing, this message will be recorded and placed on the church website along with the sermon handout.