Finding Faith: Easter’s life changing message
This Sunday many will be celebrating what is known as Easter, which is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, though there is a huge distraction by a bunny and candy.
Easter, that is, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the greatest event of all time. It is the most powerful event in human history. If it wasn’t for the resurrection, there would be no reason to record Jesus’s birth. In fact, if it wasn’t for the resurrection, there would be no need to celebrate Christmas, or for Sunday morning church to worship Him.
In our society there are people who say, “So what?” What difference does Easter make and how does it apply to me? So what if Jesus is alive? What’s the big deal? How can something that happened over 2,000 years ago have any bearing on my life today?
Similar questions were asked in the city Corinth back in the Apostle Paul’s day, and it’s something that was answered then and must be answered in our day as well. How important is the resurrection?
Jesus’s resurrection is what holds the whole basis of the Christian faith together. The resurrection is a proven historical fact, and it is a matter of public record. You might say that it was headline news. And yet, over 80% of people who say that believe in the resurrection don’t go church, and I believe it’s because they just don’t get it, that is, they don’t get the cruciality of it.
The resurrection means Jesus rose from the dead!
Because of Easter, because Jesus rose from the dead…
1. It Means Our Sins Can Be Forgiven
I don’t think there’s a person alive that doesn’t want a do-over. You know, where they can have a brand-new start in order to right all the dumb mistakes they have made.
All our failures, problems, bad decisions, and mistakes; along with all the stuff that has tortured us with painful memories, and which we believe we have to pay for the rest of our lives … Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is about having all of these things forgiven and done away with.
Colossians 2:13-14 tells us about us: “13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness [obligation], which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
Jesus has wiped them out. Jesus paid the full penalty for our sins when He became that perfect sinless sacrifice upon the cross. And by His death He accomplished what God had planned from the very beginning saying, “It is finished.”
What Jesus meant by those words is that His task, His work and God’s purpose were completed and fulfilled. Therefore, when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives, asking Him to be our Savior and Lord, we can have the same assurance the Apostle Paul had in Romans 8:1-2: “1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
This then brings us to a second difference Easter makes.
2. It Means Our Lives Can Have Purpose
What was the Father’s purpose for Jesus’s death?
— Jesus said in John 12:47 that He came “to save the world.”
— Paul said in Romans 5:8 that God demonstrates His own love toward us “that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
— Paul also said in Romans 10:9-10 “9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
It was the Father’s purpose to send Jesus so that through His death He would save all who would believe in Him. And because Jesus rose from the dead, our faith is not empty or useless, but alive and vital for eternal life.
Also, because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, just has He promised, we can have an abundant life right now. John 10:10 tells us: 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus came not only to forgive our sin and give us eternal life, which is more than any of us deserve, but He also wants to give us abundant life right now. He wants to give us a life full of meaning and purpose.
But this isn’t what society is trying to sell us. Society says that unless we have certain products, we’ll never be happy and productive. The reality is that most people aren’t really living, instead they are merely existing. They get up in the morning, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch some TV, or their computer, and then go to bed, only to repeat this scenario day in and day out.
Others take the King Solomon route, that is, finding their purpose through pleasure, prestige, and power. But what they don’t see is that in the end Solomon found it all useless and a complete waste of time.
But God created us for a purpose. He has a plan for our lives even before we were born. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that: “10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
That word “handiwork” means a work of art. What is being said is that each of us are God’s unique work of art. Therefore, God has a plan for our lives, one that He wants us to fulfill. The tragedy is that few have discovered it. But as we continue to grow together in the Lord we will learn of God’s unique design.
A.) Through the Power of Christ — It was the resurrection that proved Jesus’s power, the power over death and the grave. Now, the really cool part is that this same power that raised Jesus from the grave is available to us.
So, not only do we have a purpose for our lives, but Jesus has given to us His incredible power to live it out through our belief in Him.
— It is the power to change what we cannot, that is, our habits, hang ups, and hurts.
— It is the power to let go of guilt, grudges, and grief that keep us stuck in the past.
— And it is the power to forgive others and keeps us going when all we want to do is quit.
This is why we can say with Paul in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Now, along with the power of Christ, we also have His promises to help us live according to God’s purposes.
B.) Through the Promises of Christ — One of these incredible promises is found in John 14:14, “14 I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Easter proves that God keeps His promises. Jesus, in dealing with the most common malady known to humanity makes this promise in John 5:24 “24 Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
Everyone is going to die, that’s a given, because no one will live this life forever. Yet, as common and well understood this fact is, no one really likes to discuss or talk about it, and that’s because it scares us to death. But why would we go through life totally unprepared for something we know is going to happen.
The writer of Hebrews says that it’s been appointed to everyone a time to die, and afterwards stand before God in judgment (Hebrews 9:27). So, here’s the question, do you know where you’ll spend eternity? And what do you base that decision upon? What promises?
This leads to the third difference Easter, Jesus’s resurrection, makes …
3. It Means Our Future Can Be Secure
If I were to take a survey and ask if people were sure they were going to heaven, the most common answer would be, “I hope so.” But isn’t that something we should want to be 100% sure about?
Most people base their answers upon wrong information, wrong motives, and misunderstandings.
— Some believe in Salvation by Sincerity: They say “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.” I once read of a pilot who built his own plane and sincerely thought it would fly. But He was sincerely wrong.
— Some believe in Salvation through Good Works: They believe that their good works will get them into God’s good graces and heaven. But the Bible says, “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
— Some believe in Salvation by Subtraction: They believe we’ll get to heaven by what they don’t do, giving up stuff, like smoking, drinking, cussing, and other vices that people have. But the Bible says we need to do it God’s way, not man’s, or “in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 16:25)
— Some believe in Salvation by Ritual: They join churches, say certain kinds of prayers, perform certain rituals. But as they say, sitting to church doesn’t make a person a Christian just like sitting in a chicken coop doesn’t make a person a chicken.
— Some believe in Salvation by Heritage: They say they are a Christian because their parents are Christians. But John the Baptist confronts this sort of teaching saying, “9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. (Matthew 3:9)
— Finally, those who believe in Salvation by Comparison: They say, “At least I’m not Jim or Judy,” or “At least I haven’t killed someone.” But the Bible says, that it isn’t wise, but foolish, to compare ourselves to others. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Salvation and eternal life with God come only through having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Salvation is a heart issue … not about what we know, rather it’s about Who we know.
One day we’re all going to stand before God and He’s going to ask, “Who are you and why should I let you into heaven?”
Now we could answer, “Well I was sincere in my beliefs, I did a lot of good deeds, I gave up drinking, smoking, cussing, and all that stuff, I went to church and even got baptized in the process. And I’m not as bad as Jim and Judy, and since my parents are Christian don’t I get a free pass?”
And God will say, “Sorry no ticket.”
Or we could say, “I accepted Him as my Savior and Lord.” And God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! … Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)
What difference does Easter make? Because Jesus died and rose from the dead, our sins are forgiven, we have a purpose to live out through the power and promises of Christ, and our eternal future is secured in heaven.
Easter’s life changing message is that we can have a brand-new life and an eternity with God, and that’s because all of God’s promises are true. Try Him … Trust Him! Have a blessed Easter.
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Don Grant of Hillview Wesleyan Church, Flemington.