“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.'”
This is the most important day in the history of Christianity. No, not the birth of Jesus. Yes, it is important, but if Jesus had lived this great, perfect life, then died and had not resurrected, we would have no hope whatsoever. The great New Testament writer Paul wrote that if there is no resurrection, then we have no hope. In fact, we are pitiful and simply sad.
1 Corinthians 15: 12-19, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
In our text, we see that salvation is impossible without the faith to believe that Jesus has been resurrected. If we study the thief on the cross, Luke 23:39-43, we will see that the thief on the cross believed that Jesus, the one on the cross next to him, died just like he would remember him in Paradise. This shows belief in the resurrection, that Jesus would be alive and well and have the memory to recall this man and save him in the future.
Anyone who trusts in Jesus must accept the resurrection as fact and put trust in the RISEN Jesus. This is the most important event in the history of Christianity; the resurrection validates all that Jesus did; every miracle, every person raised from the dead, every promise He made, and all the things He taught us are validated and confirmed in His resurrection. This is the hope that we have that transcends all of the other religions. We can see the graves and burial places of many, if not all, of the religious leaders that have ‘begun’ a religion. But the grave of Jesus is empty.
The acceptance and the faith that we have in the resurrection is the faith that carries us through the pains and sufferings of the world around us. It is the faith that carries us through the loss of loved ones who are believers, and it is the faith that empowers us when we cannot see the end of the pains and suffering that are not just in the world but actually attach themselves to us.
This is the faith that helps us to trust God’s plan when it seems that He is not there and not doing anything. This is the faith that helps us to have peace when there is just turmoil in our minds and in our immediate world. This is the faith that helps us to know that Jesus will remember who we are when we get to the next life. He will know us by name, know us by face, and He extends to us the same promise He made to the thief. You will be with me in Paradise, now Heaven.
One day, either by death, rapture or resurrection, Jesus will take away our pains and our turmoil; evil will get its just reward; we will be reunited with loved ones, meet the thief on the cross, meet Paul, Peter, John, and the apostles, meet the three Marys that first saw the risen Savior, meet the centurion from the crucifixion, Joseph, and a myriad of others of whom we have only read.
For me, I want to meet Samson, a flawed man who needed God’s grace. I can identify. Without the resurrection, we have no hope, nothing to look forward to, and no foundation of rock upon which to build our lives. BUT we do have a risen Savior, Jesus, God in the flesh. And, because He is risen, then the events of that Thursday, the crown of thorns, the nails in the hands and feet, the shed blood, and the final cry of “it is finished,” actually have power. The power to save any and all people who will confess the Lord Jesus and believe that He has been raised from the dead.
HAPPY AND BLESSED RESURRECTION CELEBRATION SUNDAY
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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