Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Christ, the Lamb, Has Been Raised - Easter Morning - April 20, 2014 - Text: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! And so we greet each other with joy and enthusiasm on this joyous Easter morning.
Our text is first Corinthians 15:20-28: 20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. This is our text.
Our theme for this year has been focusing our attention on the main character of the Passion, even the main character throughout the history of Israel and the Christian Church, the Lamb. We began with the promise of a Savior and the first sacrifice made to clothe Adam and Eve. We followed God’s giving of the sacrificial system as a way of reminding people that the price for sin is death, that blood had to be shed. We saw the lamb as the main character pointing us toward the One Lamb of God and His once and for all sacrifice on the cross. We witnessed Jesus giving us His Holy Supper wherein He gives us His body and blood to eat and drink, thus participating in His life and His death. And finally this morning witness and participate in His resurrection foreshadowing our own resurrection to eternal life where He will welcome us into His heavenly home and robe us with His robes of righteousness.
How did we get in this condition in the first place? Certainly all people are innately good, right? Wrong, dead wrong. In the beginning, when God created all things out of nothing in six literal days, He created all things perfect and holy. After creating a perfect world and a perfect Garden in which He placed His perfectly created human beings, Adam and Eve, God gave only one command, do not eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day you eat of it, dying you will die, in other words, you will begin to die a physical death and apart from a Savior you will be subject to dying an eternal spiritual death.
As we know the history, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, ate of the fruit of the tree, thus sinning and bringing sin and imperfection into what was a perfect world. We live in a world infected by sin and we see the result of the infection day in and day out as we see idolatry, misuse of God’s name, refusal and rejection of His gifts each and every Sunday, disobedience to authority, killing, abortion, stealing, coveting, homosexual behavior, adultery, fornication, envy, jealousy and the list goes on and on.
God immediately stepped in and as a just God He inflicted His warning and cursed the world. The serpent was restricted to crawling on the ground. The woman would have pain in child bearing and would live to usurp the husband’s role as the authority and head of the family and the man would be subject to hard work by the sweat of his brow and yes all things began to die.
Yet, God also made a promise. God’s promise was that He would send a Savior, a Messiah, a Christ, a Redeemer for all people. This promise was given to Adam and Eve before there was a Jew or a Gentile or any other ethnic culture on the earth. The Savior would be for all people, of all places, and certainly of all times, you and I included.
God eventually narrowed the line through which the Savior would be born and that was through the line of Abraham. Abraham’s family became known as the Hebrews, the Children of Israel, the Israelites and the Jews. The Savior, the One who would pay the price for the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden and the sin of all people would be born an Israelite.
Something else about this Savior is also important. In order for this Savior to be a Savior He must be truly human in order to trade human life for human life and He must be truly divine, that is truly God so that He might be perfect. The problem with the fall into sin and the curse as well as human genetics is that sin has been passed down genetically from generation to generations so that even today you and I are conceived and born in sin, thus we cannot save ourselves.
The whole Old Testament and the sacrificial system of the Old Testament pointed the people to God’s fulfillment, the One Sacrifice, once for all. The Old Testament finds its fulfillment and culmination in Jesus. Jesus was and is, truly God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, making Him perfect and He is truly human, being born of the human woman, the virgin Mary. Not only was Jesus conceived and born in perfection, Jesus also lived perfectly. Jesus suffered all temptations but He never sinned, not even once.
After living in perfection, obeying all of God’s laws, His ceremonial, His civil, and His moral laws, perfectly, Jesus then took all our sins and the sins of all people, of all places, of all times upon Himself. He who was without sin became sin for us and then He suffered perfectly for all our sins. He suffered hell for us in our place.
Finally Jesus died a perfect death. Yes, in Christ our God died. He died a physical death, just as we will all die a physical death and He suffered eternal spiritual death in hell. On the cross Jesus died. The soldiers witnessed His death and declared it so. Those who removed the body from the cross witnessed His death and declared the same.
Yet, as we know the end of the history and as we have come here this morning and even as we celebrate each and every Sunday, our God did not stay dead, but on the third day He rose from the dead, victorious over sin, death and the devil. Yes, in Jesus our God died, and rose. No other religion, cult or sect makes this claim, because all other religions, cults and sects worship dead gods, or dead founders. And because we worship a living God, and because we believe His Word is true that there is one way and only one way into eternal life, this reason is why we are hated by all the other religions, cults and sects of the world, because of the exclusive claim of the Gospel that there is one and only one way to heaven and that way is through faith in Jesus Christ alone, faith which He gives to us, faith which trusts and believes His Word that we have faith, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
Jesus rose from the dead and He showed Himself to be alive for forty days. His resurrection showed His defeat of sin, death, Satan and the grave. His resurrection and His showing Himself to be alive confirms the eyewitness accounts that we do worship a living God.
The very reason we celebrate every Easter Sunday and the reason every Sunday for us Christians is a miniature Easter celebration is because since Jesus rose we know we too will rise again! We know that death and the grave have no power over us. We know that sin, death and the devil have been defeated, once and for all. We know that even though we may continue to live in this world of sin, even though we may even continue to sin, we know that Jesus has earned and distributes the forgiveness He has earned for us. We know that Jesus died for us, He rose for us and because He rose we know that we too will rise to be with Him in heaven for eternity.
Paul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, says it so well in our text, “20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘all things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”
All of Holy Scripture points to this most wonderful event, Jesus’ death and resurrection. Because of what Jesus has done, has accomplished, we have forgiveness of sins and with forgiveness we know is life and salvation and so we continue to greet one another as Christians have greeted one another since the first Easter, He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.