Raised To Life
He is risen! He is risen indeed! How wonderful it is to celebrate Resurrection Day with you this morning. Today I’d like to continue our Romans 8 study, which we began on Feb. 6th. This will be our 12th sermon from Romans 8. Now immediately some of you may be thinking, ‘What? Couldn’t he prepare a special Easter morning sermon for us?’ Hang in there with me. Personally I believe we could make an Easter message from just about any portion of Scripture for all of the Bible points to this monumental event of Jesus’ resurrection. That’s especially true today. Let’s look at our next verse in Romans 8:
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns?” Romans 8:33-34a
For those of you who have been here the entire last couple of months, doesn’t this sound familiar? Remember how we began this journey back at the beginning of February? “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” Amen! Hallelujah! I don’t think the Apostle Paul could have written it too much. I don’t think we can spend too much pulpit time talking about this! We who are in Christ are not condemned? We who are in Christ are forgiven! We who are in Christ are the children of God, Whom He loves with an everlasting love!
AND… Jesus is coming back again to bring His beloved family home to His Heavenly Father! But He hasn’t come back yet. Ever wonder why? Because He is not yet done building His family! He’s not yet done releasing from condemnation, forgiving and adopting! Aren’t you glad He didn’t stop the day before YOU became a child of God? I know I am so glad! So I say, ‘God Your timing is perfect! Come back when it is time! Let today be that day!’
But in the meantime… let’s not forget that God is still in the business of not condemning, forgiving and adopting. So how should this instruct us for how we treat other people in the world? Is there anyone that God cannot save? Is there anyone too far from God that He cannot reach? Is there anyone that God says, “Nope! Not you!” If God could forgive the very ones who nailed His Son to the cross, what could you do that would be beyond His forgiveness? What could your neighbor do that would be unforgivable? What could that bitter rival at school or at work do that God would say, “No! Not him! Not her! Not in MY family!”
So today, as we celebrate Resurrection Day for ourselves - and glory be that celebration! We have so much to celebrate! - Let’s not forget that God is not done yet. God still wants to save. Jesus still wants to reach those who have not yet claimed His Name. There is no lost cause as far as Jesus is concerned. There is no outcast too far out. If Jesus could forgive me… if Jesus could forgive you… then Jesus can forgive anyone! So the next time you want to condemn someone for what they’ve done against you, just remember that God has not condemned you. God has forgiven you. So this morning… who is there that I need to forgive? Who is there that you need to forgive? Who is there that we should be praying to be celebrating next Easter?
Hope For Us! Over and over again the Bible confronts us with this audacious assertion - that Jesus died and on the 3rd day he rose!
“Christ Jesus who died - more than that, who was raised to life.” Romans 8:34b
This is the only exception. Death has been the universal language that all humans have always been forced to speak. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that it is appointed to each man to die. We all know we will die but we don’t like to think about it. But did you know that you actually have an appointment with death? How would you like to get that reminder telephone call?“Mr. Pierce, we’re just calling to remind you that on Monday morning at 9:23…” Yikes!
The game changer with Jesus wasn’t that He died. Don’t get me wrong. His death is of monumental importance. He died for you and me on that cross. He is the forever, eternal, immortal Son of God - the 2nd Person of the Trinity. So the fact that He traded His immortality for mortality, the fact that he took on all of human nature, including being frail, being sick, being hurt, being subject to betrayal, torture and ultimately death on a cross - that’s a very BIG DEAL! Because He did it for you and me!
But that’s NOT the game changer. The game changer is what happened on the 3rd day! He was raised to life! What was dead is now alive. What was lifeless, decaying, stinking, worm-eaten cross-kill breathes again! Is filled with life again! Walks again! Talks again! And it changed everything.
Because the Bible tells us that Jesus is not the only one. He is merely the first one! His resurrection is the signpost for your resurrection! And mine. His death and future life points to your future life too!
“It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever.” 1 Corinthians 15:52
Without Jesus’ own resurrection we would have no hope for our own. What we must remember this morning is that the end of the gospels, each telling their story of Jesus’ resurrection is NOT the end of the story. It’s just the beginning! Jesus rose again so we know we will rise again!
We have hope - not just for ourselves - but for everyone we know or ever have known, who have also placed their hope in Jesus. Death is not the end of life. It is merely a doorway to another life, a better life, a forever life, a healthy life, a life of love, a life of belonging, and a life of purpose.
Phil Wickham penned his poetry perfectly: “Hallelujah! Praise the One Who set me free! Hallelujah! Death has lost its grip on me! [Jesus], You have broken every chain! There’s salvation in Your Name. Jesus Christ - my living hope!”
“Jesus Christ who died - more than that - who was raised to life!” Romans 8:34b
Not Just A Future Event. It would be so easy for us to view this entire resurrection talk as a future event, a future hope - something down the line - something that happens someday… a Heaven story. And some people live that way. Many people get this wrong.
Some people figure they need to get things “right with God” before they die. Gotta make my peace with my Creator. So for them, this whole salvation thing is a matter of timing. Just gotta get right with God before I die. While I still can get that ticket to Heaven.
Others - especially those who have already committed their life to being Christians - see everything on this side of the great divide of death and life - as a sacrifice. Gotta live right now to prove myself later. Gotta give more, gotta go to church more, gotta do more for others.
Sadly, neither seem to be what Jesus had in mind for now. We all seem to agree that before we were without Christ. And in Heaven we will be forever with Christ. But what about the now? Here’s what we read:
“Christ Jesus … is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us.” Romans 8:34c
We celebrate Resurrection Day, not just for the future hope we have for our own resurrection, but also for the present reality of Christ Jesus interceding for us in everything that we are facing - each day! Now!
That test that you studied for that will determine your future placement? “Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God and is interceding!” That relationship betrayal that has hurt you so badly that you don’t know if you can go on? “Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God and is interceding!” That business decision that you have to make and you’re just not sure which way you should go? “Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God and is interceding!” That loved one who has meant so much to you is now suffering with illness and the prognosis is not good. “Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God and is interceding!” That addiction that you just have not been able to shake and you wonder if you ever will be able to be healed of it? “Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God and is interceding!”
Imagine every struggle, every trouble, every hardship, every time you are mistreated, or hurt, or wonder if you can go on, each and every time, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God and is interceding for you! Imagine it! Jesus and His Abba Heavenly Father sitting up in glorious Heaven on their thrones, but they’re not watching TV, or the football game, or the political news shows - They are watching you! And loving you. And cheering for you! Then imagine Jesus leaning in toward His Father and He says, “It looks like Mark could use a little help! Let’s intercede on Brandi’s behalf. Look what’s going on with Brian - let’s intervene. Oh look at Don go! Let’s reward him! Did you see the faithfulness of Paityn? Let’s bless her! This Christian faith is not just a faith for someday in the future, it is for right now for everything we are facing. Jesus wants to intercede! God is for us! Thank you Jesus for what You have done for us! Let’s celebrate together!