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Apr 04, 2021

Easter | The Significance of the Resurrection

Easter | The Significance of the Resurrection

Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:1-10

Speaker: Matt Petty

Series: Easter

Keywords: jesus, sin, easter, resurrection, forgiveness, salvation, forgive, bible study, empty tomb, jesus death, how to be saved, easter worship service

You might wonder why Christians talk so much about “the resurrection”. It might be confusing to understand the significance of Jesus’ death on our lives today. Why should we have hope today? If you’ve thought these things before, then you are in good company. Pastor Matt shows us the significance of the resurrection and what it can mean to you personally. What we want for you is to understand that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for your sins, and that His resurrection is of personal importance. That one act of God forgives your past, transforms your present, and secures your future. If you’ve got questions about Jesus or want someone to pray with you, then take the next step here – burnthickory.com/next – we’d love to connect with you.

Psalms 35:27 says, "May those who delight in salvation, shout for joy. "Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you people, and shout to God with a song of joy."  Burnt Hickory, whether you're on the lawn, or whether you're in person, whether you've been here for 40 years, or you stumbled onto a loud community event, today, we gather together to celebrate a resurrected King. And I need you to know something today that this changes everything. It changes everything. And I may be the only one that's excited in the group. But I want to tell you, this is round three for me. And I'm more excited than I was last night at six o'clock, we have a risen King, we have a risen King.  And listen, the first century believers as they would walk the streets of Jerusalem and greet other people, they would walk into a moment with another person, and they would say Christ is risen, and the person that we would walk beside them would respond with them, he has risen indeed, indeed! In fact, the first century Christians had a decision to make, and it doesn't really make that much sense to us, but for them, this was a big deal. They had to decide when Christ rose from the grave what they were going to do with their worship. They had been worshipping on Saturday, from the times of Moses all the way to the first century. And something happened that was so significant, that it changed their day of worship. It changed the day that they gathered together to worship the King to signify the resurrected promise that Jesus not only rose from the grave that He has offered us resurrection one day to be with Him. And that is what we celebrate today. That's why we get together. That's why we lift up songs of praise. That's why we grab our families. That's why we head to grandmas for brunch and fight the Cracker Barrel crowd is to raise our voices to raise our souls to the fact that Christ has risen from the dead. So, here's what I'm going to do today. All right?  I'm going to be very frank, I'm going to be very upfront, because I know for some of you church is a normal deal for you, for some of you, we welcome you back from Christmas. But here's what I want to do today.

 

I want to do a couple of things. Because I know your Easter traditions are different, right? Some of your Easter traditions are to get so stressed out at home that everybody's fighting and by the time you get to church in the color of clothing that you would never wear on any other day, you're just ready for a nap.  So, I want to be really, really, really clear today that I want to do three things.  I want to show you that Jesus loves you and how much he loves you. I want to unapologetically just say that you need to turn your life over to Jesus. And you need to trust Jesus, and you need to allow Him to step into your life. And for those of you that are believers today, here's what I want to do for you. I want to bring you some peace. And I want to bring you some comfort. I can't think of another year that we have walked through and trudged through that we need joy in our life. We need comfort in our lives. And I can tell you this, no meal after this service is going to bring it, no family getting together is going to las, but what we celebrate today is the only hope that we can have in life and it is the resurrected King. It's the resurrected King. If you have a copy of Scripture, I want you to go with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 15. And Paul shows us the Apostle Paul, in this passage, he shows us exactly what and how we know that Christ rose from the grave. He shows us exactly what this does for us in our lives. And he shows us exactly what it is going to take for us to walk this out in our lives. So, I just want to walk through this passage today as clearly and as simply as I can. I want us to see how Paul views the significance of what it is that we're celebrating today. First Corinthians 15. I'm gonna read it over us. We're going to talk about it and I'm going to give you a couple observations and we're gonna get to grandma's house. Here we go. 1 Corinthians 15:1, "Now brothers and sisters, I want to remind you," Paul says "of the gospel, I preached to you, which you have received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel, you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word, I preached to you, otherwise, you had believed in vain." Now, I want you to put your finger there, because I want to talk about this just for a minute. Because what you see here is the Apostle Paul unapologetically says that the walk of faith or the walk of where Christ has called us to walk is, in fact, a decision-based faith. It is a faith that you are called to attention, you are called to action, and you are called to a commitment. And when he talks about this faith that saves us, this commitment that saves us under the gospel, he doesn't speak of just a momentary event where we make an emotional decision. He speaks of a lifestyle, he speaks of a movement, he speaks of a trajectory of our lives, that from the moment Christ saves us that it pushes us in a new walk, in a new journey on a new trajectory.

 

I get people all the time asking me this question. Well, Matt, how do I know if my decision to follow Jesus was a real decision? How do I know if my decision to follow Jesus was something that I did? Or that I actually made a competent decision to do this? To which I would say, the reality is, it's very easy to answer that question. I would say this, the best way for you to know if you have made a decision to follow Jesus is to ask yourself, Am I following Jesus? I know that's profound. I know, you came all the way this morning to hear that, but it's the truth, right? The truth is, if you want to know if your decision to follow Jesus was real, you need to look into your soul and ask yourself, Am I following Jesus? It's kind of like sitting down in that chair that you're in, you know, those wedding chairs, those white wedding chairs that you're in, there's that moment that you're deciding, is this chair going to do its job or not, it feels a little shaky, and a little creaky and I'm really not sure.  If I was to ask you why you made the decision to sit down in the chair, you wouldn't give me a long decision of how you decided to sit down in the chair.  You would simply just say, Well, look at me, am I sitting in the chair?  Well, that's the same thing with our faith, right? You can tell me about your history. You can tell me about what you may or may not have done. But the reality is, Paul says if you want to know if you have trusted the gospel, are you trusting it right now?  That's what he says.  Keep going, verse 3 Paul says this, "For what I received, I have passed on to you, as of first importance:" we're gonna come back to that.  "That Christ, died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that he was buried and raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and then he appeared to Cephus," that's just a nickname for Peter. "And then He appeared to the twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom" Paul says, "are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James and to all of the apostles. And last of all, he appeared," Paul says to me, "also, as one who was abnormally born.  For I am the least of the Apostles, and I do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God, but by the grace of God, hallelujah. I am what I am. And his grace to me, is not without effect."

 

You see, Paul says in this passage that the resurrection matters. He says three things in this passage that I want to point out to us this morning or three observations, if you will.  And the first one is that the reality is that the resurrection is of first importance. It is a first importance. You say, Well, Matt, what does that mean? It quite simply just means that the resurrection, the thing that we are here today to celebrate, to praise, and to lift up our voices over and hang our lives on is the most monumental, important thing that you can have and believe in your entire life. Look at what he says in verse 3 so you know, I'm not making it up.  "For what I received I passed on to you, as of first importance." You see, here's what that means. There's a whole lot of things that Paul said throughout the scriptures. There's a whole lot of commands throughout the scriptures, there's a whole lot of thou shalts and thou shalt nots. There's a whole lot of ideas throughout the scriptures.  But the number one first important thing that should be heralded over our life is that I know the resurrected King Jesus.  That I worship the resurrected King Jesus.   And here's what he means by that. The reality is that if the resurrection did not happen everything else that we believe is in vain. It's in vain. I'm not making it up. Look at verse 17. Paul said it later, he says, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith, Paul says, is futile. It's futile. And then he goes on to say, you are still living in your sins. So, the reality is we can take the whole Bible, and there's enormous truth all throughout the scriptures. But the biggest truth that we should hang our lives on is the fact that we have a resurrected King, because this is the gospel, right? And the gospel is what separates us, the gospel is what calls us.  You see, the reality is the gospel of Jesus, it's not a new set of rules. It's not a new set of moral codes, or it's not a new compass that we pour our life into. The gospel is not a new philosophy that we grab hold of.  The gospel is not a new political power that we align ourselves with. The gospel is not a fish sticker on the back of our minivan that is swallowing up the Darwin sticker with all of our homeschool kids coming out the back, that is not the gospel. The gospel is the fact that Christ lived for us, that Christ died for us and that Christ rose for us.  He lived a life that I should have lived, He died the death that I should have died, and He raised to give me the life that I don't deserve, that’s the gospel. That's why we celebrate. That's why I get up here like a raging maniac and say that I have been redeemed. And I'm excited about it. Because the gospel is of first importance, especially the resurrection.  You see, I want you to know today, that when Christ rose, He defeated death, He defeated the grave, and He defeated sin for eternity to do what?   To give me access to the King, the Lord God. That's what He did. In the announcement of that, catch this, is why I can now approach the throne in the grace of God. What does Paul say the gospel is of first importance?

 

But number two, he continues, and he says this, that the resurrection is a physical real resurrection. It's a physically real resurrection. Now, I want you to know that both of those words matter; physically real.  Because I get people all the time that will go, Well Matt, the resurrection is just an idea. It's just a kind of a in spirit that he rose in spirit that this just kind of the movement of what Christ said up rose and took hold. Well, here's the deal. That's not what Paul says. That's not what the disciples say. The disciples emphatically say, Christ rose.  That they put him in the grave, they put His dead corpse in the grave with no life with no breath, and three days later, His body rose from the grave. And here's what Paul does for us. He goes, I know what you're thinking. You're a bunch of naysayers. But he gives us three pieces of evidence. He gives us three big pieces of evidence here how we can know that Christ rose and the first one is quite simply that we know that Christ rose because of the fulfilled prophecy.  The fulfilled prophecy.  Now, prophecy is just a really big churchy word, I get it. It's just like one of those. Where are we going with this? Matt? This is kind of weird. We're not that kind of church. That's not what it means. prophecy, is just this idea that when Christ did what He did, He did it to fulfill what God had already said He was going to do. And we see that all through the Bible. In fact, look at verse three.  Watch what Paul does here in verse 3, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures."  Now, this is a little bit confusing, if you know who Paul is, because Paul keeps talking about the scriptures here. In fact, we are reading the scriptures when Paul is talking about the scriptures. So, is Paul just merely saying that Christ rose from the dead according to what I'm about to write down and you're going to read later? That will be circular reasoning, right? No, that's not what Paul is saying. But some people have said that over the years, what Paul is saying, is that Christ died according to the Scriptures, Christ rose, according to the Scriptures, he's pointing back to the Old Testament. He's pointing back to thousands of years of God foretelling exactly what was going to happen from the Messiah. In fact, if you were looking at the disciples during this time, and if you were looking at how they would kind of pull out the big guns to really convince someone of what Christ did. They wouldn't throw out the fact that they walked with Him that they were with Him the whole time as their first primary defense.

 

In fact, they would just look back at thousands of years of history and go, look, God's been talking about this for years.  He's been proclaiming this for years. He's been laying down the foundation for years, and it happened. It happened. That's exactly what Paul is saying here. They looked back and said, Look, God said exactly what was going to go down. Now look, I'm not talking about some weird like halfway prediction, like Nostradamus, right? I mean, like some of his predictions. I don't know how big of a history fan you are. But like, there's a man that's going to come from the east and cause some trouble predictions. I'm talking about like specifics. In fact, I'm talking about like how Jesus would die. Isaiah 53 hundreds of years later that said that He would be pierced for our transgressions, I'm talking about that Jesus would be laid in a tomb of a rich man that wasn't His tomb, Isaiah 53:11. I'm talking about Genesis 38, where he told us that Jesus would come from the tribe of Judah or Micah 5:2, where it says that Jesus would, in fact, be born in Bethlehem, or maybe Zechariah 9, where it says that Jesus would come riding into Jerusalem prior to His death on a colt that was unbroken. Or maybe you're talking about Zechariah 11, where it says that Jesus would be betrayed for a specific 30 pieces of silver.  And listen, that's just six. That's just six of the specific conversations that we can hold on to that Christ fulfilled when He rose. And here's the amazing part of that. There are 294 others in the Old Testament, 294. So, you know what that means? There's 300 times in the Old Testament, prior to Jesus being born, that told us exactly what he was going to do. I get people that go, Well, Matt, Jesus just got lucky in fulfilling those. Maybe. But do you realize the odds of that are so astronomical, that a mathematician would tell you that the odds of Jesus fulfilling all of those prophecies are 1 in 10 with 165 zeros after it? 1 in 10, with 165 zeros after it.  You say Matt, I can't even imagine that number. Me neither. Me neither. But one guy tried. And here's what he said, you may have heard this before. But I thought it was a great way to kind of prove this point.  One mathematician said, if you were to take the state of Georgia, the state of South Carolina and the state of North Carolina, and you were to fill them with silver dollars, two feet high over the whole land. And if you were to mark on one of those silver dollars, a red X, and if you were to take a blind man on to Stone Mountain and launch him up into the atmosphere, and he were to fall to the ground, reach down and pick up one silver dollar, the odds of that happening are 1 times 10 to the 15th, to the 15th. Now we're talking Jesus on the 1 times 10 to the 165th. Well, Matt is just got lucky.

 

I don't see how that happens. You see, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the Old Testament. And in fact, even bigger than that, the prophecy of the Old Testament was nothing but just a big old drumbeat that pointed towards Jesus was coming in every single story. But Paul doesn't stop there. He says there's evidence in obviously, the fulfilled prophecy. But number two, he said, there's evidence in the empty tomb. There's evidence in the empty tomb. And I love this because when you look at verse 3, you will see that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that he was buried. And then he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures. Now, when you think about this, the easiest way for any skeptic to put to death, this movement called Christianity in the first century, Palestine, let's just be intellectual about this; would be to do what?  Produce the body. That's all they had to do. That's all Rome would have had to do. That's all the religious leaders would have had to do. That's all the Jewish community would have had to do was just to merely say, you said Jesus rose. Well, here's his corpse. Now, I know that's incredibly just brash. But listen, that would not have been beneath them. That would not have been beneath the history and what they did to try to stamp out this movement that Jesus created.  They would have drugged him to the streets, they would have hung him up on the main street of Jerusalem to prove that Jesus did not raise, but here's the deal. They couldn't. They couldn't. Why? Because He rose, He rose. In fact, this is the sole reason that the Roman guards sent this platoon of soldiers to stand outside the tomb; was to keep the disciples from stealing the body and trying to say that Christ rose from the grave. So, you can see that all parties have this issue. And it's that Jesus is not in the tomb anymore. He's gone. Why is He gone? Because He's risen. So, the evidence is in the empty tomb. But thirdly, the evidence is in the eyewitness accounts. It's in the eyewitness accounts. And I know what you're saying, Matt, they're just lying. They're just lying. Well, read this with me for a minute, because Paul names a few people. Verse 5 says this, "And then Jesus appeared to Cephas and then to the twelve, and after that he appeared to more than 500 other brothers and sisters at the same time." What does he say?  "Most of whom are still living, though some have died or falling asleep. Then he appeared to James and to all the apostles and last of all he appeared to Paul."   People say, Matt, clearly, they're lying. I mean, okay, here's the deal.

 

Maybe if one, maybe if two, maybe if three people got together and came up with a story, I might would give you that. I mean, Watergate didn't work, but maybe they could do it, right? But, 500 in a primitive society, people got together, came up with a story that they were literally willing to die for. I don't think so. Because I mean, let's just think about the implications of the statement. When you think about the implication of these people saying that Jesus rose.  The only logical reason for them to say, would be for them to get power, or to get prestige. But the fact that they said Jesus rose, do you know what it did to them?  It put a target on their back of persecution, and it put a target on their back of death, and suffering. So, when you think about it, logically, they had no power claim at this moment to go, Hey, Jesus rose, show us the power we deserve. They knew at that moment when they said that, that they deserved, and they would almost be taken to death. So, here's the question, why did they make the claim? They made the claim, because they knew that when Jesus rose, it gave them a chance to raise with him for eternity. That Jesus, the things that he had been saying the things that he had been teaching the things that he had been pouring into them. They made the claim, because just like Jesus was risen, they knew there would be a day that they busted from their grave to spend eternity with God in heaven.  This changed their lives. They weren't looking for earthly power or prestige. They weren't looking for any of that. If they were lying, one of them would have cracked.  Do you realize that every one of these guys that are making this claim, especially the disciples suffered immense persecution, and many of them died for their faith? And not one of them said, Hey, I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. I know you just beheaded that guy. I'm just kidding. It didn't happen. Why?  It changes their lives.  So, we got fulfilled prophecy. We got eyewitness account.  You say, well Matt, maybe they're just mistaken? I mean, maybe. But do 500 people see a guy walking down the road and call Him Jesus and he's not Jesus?  I don't think so.  Well maybe Matt, they were hallucinating.  I mean no. I don't know about your college experience, but people don't hallucinate together. It's an individual moment. Well Matt maybe the first century church just added this on later on?  Maybe these details weren't in the original?  I mean, really?  If you know anything about this book called First Corinthians, it was written in about 50 AD, maybe 50 to 55 AD, which was about 15 years or less after Jesus died. And there would have been 1000's of people that knew what happened that would have looked at Paul and squashed this letter as heresy. But it didn't happen. In fact, every scholar believes on the earth today that as a biblical scholar that this was indeed written by God and is part of this impregnable quartet of scriptures that nobody thinks that this is not from him. The church didn't add this. This is one of the earliest books that we have. So, here's what I want you to see. We're celebrating something today that happened. It happened. It's not something that we hope happened. It's not something that we're just like, well, maybe it happened. It's something that the evidence mounts on earthly sides as well as spiritual sides. That what God said what's going to happen happened. It's a first importance, number one, number two, we're just seeing that the resurrection is a real physical resurrection. But here's what I want you to see. Number three, the resurrection is for you. It's for you. You know, one of the downfalls of reading the Bible sometimes is that we read it through the lens of, Well, I'm glad it happened to them. Well, I'm glad that took place in that time. But here's the deal. When Christ rose, He rose from the people from the beginning of time from the people that were walking with Him on this earth, and He rose for the people that will come from now till eternity. It's for all of us at all times. Just as one man, Adam brought us into sin in this world. One man, Jesus brought us out of sin, and his name is the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And that's what we celebrate today. That's why we lift our voices today, because here's the deal. Without the resurrection, we're still in our sin. We're still trying to crawl our way back to God. We're still trying to work our way back into the good graces of God, which I might add is what every other religion on this planet does.

 

But we celebrate because of the gospel. Listen, we do not work our way into the gospel. We receive the gospel, and because it's changed our lives, then we live our commitment. Do you know how it's for you, number one, it forgives her past? The resurrection forgives your past, it wipes your slate clean. Do you realize that at the moment you give your life to Jesus, your past, in God's eyes, I can't help who the people around you are, in God's eyes, you have been washed whiter than snow? And when God sees you, he doesn't see you as a sinner. He doesn't see you as evil. He doesn't see you as just a person has tried. He sees you through the lens of the resurrected Jesus. That's what we celebrate today. He forgives my past. Look at what Paul says verse 3, that Christ died for my sins. Look at verse 10. But by the grace of God, I am what I am. Grace is nothing more than the unmerited favor of God. That's all it is. You see, Jesus had a purpose of coming to the earth. And that purpose was to live the life that we should live. But we can't because we're in sin, but He did. He lived a perfect life. It was to die the death that I deserve to die. Because I've turned from God because I've sinned because I've walked away from who God is. But Christ died the death that I should die, listen to this, He didn't get what he deserved. Do you know what Christ deserved when he walked on this earth? Full honor, full praise. But He didn't get it. Because He took on the sin of the world. And now he's put the eternal consequences of sin behind us. He forgives my past. But number two, watch what He does, He transforms my present. You know, a lot of what we look at in Christianity, we talk about our past and we talked about one day. But let me just point one thing out to us real quick. God is concerned about your now as well. And do you realize there's nothing else that can transform your present, like the gospel? There is nothing else that can do that. None of us can work our way into it. No relief agency can give it to us like Jesus. What did Paul say verse 9, "For I am the least of the Apostles, and I do not deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." Do you know what the gospel does for you and me, the resurrection does for you and me?   It changes me now.  It changes me.  If it can change the murderous threat of Paul into becoming one of the foundations of the church, I'm pretty sure it can take care of whatever you did yesterday.  It transforms me now. And here's the last thing it does. It secures my future. The resurrection as secure as my future. It gives me a present hope, but also a tomorrow hope. You know, we just sang about it. We just praised on top of this. But you know, there's gonna be a day one day where we're not worried about half of the stuff that we're worried about today. That we're in the presence of the resurrected Jesus that says, I'm yours. Do you know why? He secures my future. And He's given us life. He's given us hope because Jesus laid sin to rest. He laid it to rest. But here's the question. I just want you to see.

 

Have you trusted Jesus? You see, we can talk about Him all we want to, and we can believe there's a God all we want to, and we can work from all we want to we can come to as many Easter services as we want to. But the reality is, the resurrection does not begin to transform our lives until we surrender our hearts to Jesus. Until we merely call out to Jesus and say, Jesus, I know. I know that I'm a sinner. And I know I need you to save me, to come into my heart, to come into my life, to give me hope. So, here's my question today. I'm not talking play in church, I'm not talking swapping denominations, I'm not talking Protestant or evangelical or Catholic. I'm talking Jesus.  Has there been a moment where Jesus has transformed you?  He has forgiven, you have your past. He's transformed, you're now and He's secured your future. Because if there hasn't been, it can be right now. It can be right now. It's as simple as going. You know what? I believe that He did what He did. I do trust that Christ is who He said He was. And I want Him to forgive me my sins and come into my life. Listen, if that's you today, and if your heart is in that moment in that space, if you pray and ask Christ to come into your life, here's one of the most incredible parts about who He is. He will, He will. 

 

If that's you today, we want to hear about it. We want to walk this journey with you. We want to know where you are. And we want to celebrate this with you. Because we know that Christianity is not a solo deal. It's a deal where we link arms with other people, and we celebrate just like we're celebrating today, we come around other people.

 

So, here's my challenge. In this next song, there's a next step slide that's going to pop onto the screens. After this song, there's going to be people at these three tents that are around us today. If today, you want to give your life to the resurrected King. If you want somebody maybe just to help you answer some questions, or maybe you've just got some things going on right now that you want somebody to pray over you and lift you up, during this next couple of moments of worship, we want to give you the space to be able to do that. Because this is of first importance. That's what Paul says. 

 

Lord Jesus today, we ask you Lord, just to take these next couple of moments and settle our souls. God, we know that in a crowd this size, there are people who do not know you personally. They may have gone to church their whole life. They may have participated in religious events. But that's not what we're talking about today. We're talking about celebrating a resurrection today by giving our hearts to You, Jesus. God, may they find the freedom today to seek out one of these welcome tents just to look on one of the faces of the people in that tent and say hey, listen, I need Jesus. Lord, if there's others today that are hurting, that need you to give them a freshness. Lord I pray during these next couple of minutes, Lord, they may be able to find peace in their souls that only You the Prince of Peace can bring.   Lord, we love you. We praise you. We give you these next couple of moments that we worship you as the resurrected King. And it's in your name Jesus. Amen.

 

Let's stand and sing together.