Good afternoon brothers and sisters,
On the Christian calendar, tomorrow is Good Friday. It is the day which, historically, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church has identified as the day our Savior was crucified, died and was buried. It is the day which literally crushed the expectations of every single one of His disciples. It is the day that ended with unfathomable sorrow, immeasurable grief and extreme anguish of soul for all who knew Him….for all who placed their hope and trust in Him. What they experienced was an utter sense of helplessness. What could they possibly do now? Jesus was dead. All their hope was destroyed as Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished.”
Hope is a precious commodity. People can endure more than they ever thought possible if there is a glimmer of hope. But when hope dies something inside us dies and needs to be restored, or dare I say “resurrected?” The immense value of hope cannot be minimized. Paul identifies it as one of the chief virtues we all desperately need. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13).
The importance of hope, the significance of hope is illustrated by the frequency with which it appears in Scripture. Here is a sampling of some verses that speak to the nature, the effects, the benefits and the Object of our hope.
24Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:24)
22Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You. (Psalm 33:22)
11Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him,
the help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 42:11)
114You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. (Psalm 119:114)
5I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. (Psalm 130:5)
1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
25But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:25)
10Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer. (Romans 12:10-12)
13Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. (Ephesians 1:17-18)
4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling. (Ephesians 4:4)
27To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)
13Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)
15But sanctify [b]the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)
With the death of Jesus, His disciples were bereft of all hope. Their Messiah, their Savior had died an ignominious and shameful death. He was accounted as accursed, for the Scriptures tell us that 13Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”). (Galatians 3:13)
But what they did not recognize, what they did not understand was that Jesus had to die if we were to have any hope of life. He died so that we might live. What they never could have guessed was that this same Jesus who laid down His life had the power to take it up again. This was His own testimony in John 10.
15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:15-18)
So, yes, Jesus died in a most horrible manner. Yes, His body was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb so that He was buried. But the grave could not hold Him. On the third day, Jesus burst forth from the grave, just as He had repeatedly told His disciples He would do. But because they did not have ears to hear, because Jesus seemed to be speaking a foreign language when He talked about His coming mistreatment and death, they simply could not grasp the concept resurrection. But all that was about to change.
The Scriptures tell us that early on the first day of the week, some women who had been among His most faithful followers, went to the tomb to further prepare His body for a proper burial. In Matthew’s account, two women are identified by name: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. Mark identifies three women by name: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James
and Salome. Luke identifies three by name (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother James) but also adds this comment: and the other women were with them. John mentions only Mary Magdalene.
In Matthew’s account, the two women were met by an angel who descended from heaven, rolled back the stone and then told them that he knew they were seeking Jesus who had been crucified. And then he said to them, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.” (Matthew 28:6-7)
But before they could return to where the disciples were gathered together so that they might tell them this glorious news, 9“behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” (Matthew 28:9b-10)
Mark’s account contains some variations. He wrote: 1Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going [a]before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” 8So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mark adds this slight twist to his account of Jesus resurrection: 9Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. (Mark 16:9-10)
Luke’s account has some several variations as well. He wrote, 1Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ” 8 And they remembered His words. 9Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.
John’s account has additional information not found in any of the synoptic Gospels. He wrote: Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. 11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. (John 20:1-18)
Both Mark and Luke record the response of the bulk of the apostles to the news that these women had brought to them. 11And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. (Mark 16:11)
11And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. (Luke 24:11)
They knew that He was dead and buried and that was the end of the story. All the wishful thinking in the world could not change those facts. They were utterly without hope and no alleged sightings of a living Jesus could change that.
Imagine what it must have been like to be in such a state of mind, to be in such despair and despondency that they could not even entertain the possibility that these women had actually see the risen Lord.
And now imagine their shock when two of their brothers who had been traveling to Emmaus were describing their encounter with the risen Lord when suddenly there He stood, right in their midst, for that is exactly what happened. Luke records for us the amazing response of those gathered there. Even with Jesus standing before their very eyes they could not get their minds around the fact the He had risen from the dead. It took a while for that reality to settle in.
32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 40When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence. (Luke 24;32-43)
Brothers and sisters, I trust this Scripture-laden recounting of our Lord’s resurrection has instilled a longing within you to gather with your brothers and sisters this Lord’s Day to celebrate this eternity-altering event. Eternity itself will not prove adequate to tell of the glories of our Lord, to extol His great sacrifice on our behalf. Of course this is far from being a rarity. We celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection every single Lord’s Day. Let’s not forget that.
My sermon this Lord’s Day will be focusing on the importance of gardens to the story of redemptive history. Our God makes use of a wide array of literary devices to move that story forward. He uses types and anti-types, metaphors and similes, symbolism and allusion, alliteration and acrostic to name just a few. Several of the most pivotal events of redemptive history are played out in gardens. I will get the Order of Worship to you in the next day or so.
I thought I would give you a link to my all-time favorite Contemporary Christian song about our Lord’s resurrection. It wonderfully portrays the impact on those who understand just how much we need Jesus our Lord and the difference His resurrection makes for us. It’s an oldie but goody.
Please remember that our Spring Feet ‘n Eat is this Saturday for those who are able to make it. UPDATE: Postponed because of rain.
The following Saturday we need the help of many to take care of a number of projects around our building. The lists are on the back table and there are still plenty of spots available to sign up for a particular job.
Our Resurrection Day breakfast is this Lord’s Day. There is still time to sign-up online.
· April 20 – Spring Feet ‘n Eat UPDATE: Postponed because of rain
· April 21 – Resurrection Day breakfast
· April 21 – Adults Fellowship Group (westsiders)
· April 22 – Ladies Group
· April 27 – Spring Workday (at the building)
· April 28 – Neighborhood Fellowship
Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is to life. —Jonathan Edwards
The more you read Scripture, the more you actually talk to God rather than think about fear.—Edward Welch
We are not heard for our many words, but for the cry of our hearts. —John MacArthur
The most important exhortation in complementarianism is not for women to sit down, but for men to stand up. —Kevin DeYoung
Ease and luxury, such as our affluence brings us today, do not make for maturity; hardship and struggle however do. —J.I. Packer
Death breaks the union between the body and the soul, but perfects the union between Christ and the soul. —Thomas Watson
It’s time to go on the offensive
When it comes to giving reasons for our faith, we Christians are playing far too defensive a game.
We’ve believed that Christianity is declining. It isn’t. We’ve assumed Christianity can’t stand up in the university. It can. Too many of us think Christianity is threatened by diversity. It never has been. And too few of us think Christian sexual ethics are sustainable in the modern world. They are. On these and many other fronts, we have conceded far more ground to secularism than it deserves.
But we’ve also been playing too aggressive a game. We’ve majored on point-scoring and culture-warring, when the Bible calls us to “gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15). We’ve propagated weak arguments without listening to real experts. And we’ve blindly stepped out into cultural traffic, rather than taking our lead from those with the credibility to speak.
If we are to be faithful in this cultural moment, we must be neither retreaters nor attackers, neither (needlessly) defensive nor (faithlessly) aggressive. Instead, we must go on a “gentle offensive.” Here are five things that will help. READ MORE…
He Sealed His Fate with a Song: The Most Famous Psalm in Scripture
The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)
He almost sealed his fate that Sunday. Riding in on the humble steed (Matthew 21:7; Zechariah 9:9), he had stirred up the whole city with messianic hopes (Matthew 21:10–11). Then Monday he cleansed the temple, and refused to rebuke the children’s hosannas (Matthew 21:15–16). Now there was no turning back, and he confirmed it with his words on Tuesday.
With each passing hour, Jesus drew nearer to the lion’s jaws. In just three days, he would be shamed and humiliated, tortured and executed — each step toward Calvary met with increasing friction. Yet, on the inside, he was singing.
As he walked that harrowing road, he was rehearsing the Psalms and living out the ancient Script with every act of faith. On Tuesday, he drew the Psalm from its blessed scabbard, stumping the brightest minds of his day and silencing the loudest mouths. Now, their only recourse would be to kill him. READ MORE…
What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?
When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, two rather technical words come up again and again: expiation and propitiation. These words spark all kinds of arguments about which one should be used to translate a particular Greek word, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one. I’m often asked to explain the difference between propitiation and expiation. The difficulty is that even though these words are in the Bible, we don’t use them as part of our day-to-day vocabulary, so we aren’t sure exactly what they are communicating in Scripture. We lack reference points in relation to these words. READ MORE…
How the Lord’s Supper Reminds Me of the Lord’s Grip
Learning to ride a bike on a bike that has no brakes. Dabbing my fingers in red paint and chasing my sisters around while screaming “Bloody fingers! Bloody fingers!” Crawling under the choir loft to play war after Royal Ambassadors on Wednesday nights. Those events set up memories early in my life that I’ll never forget.
While taking the Lord’s Supper recently, I saw again how early spiritual patterns are often the ones that sustain us later in life.
A man named Roger captured my attention because he suffers from early onset dementia. Roger is a faithful husband, father, and grandfather, but he is now in a season where his loving wife picks him up from a residential care facility every Sunday and brings him to church. He provided well for his family over the years and saved enough money to make possible his care.
Roger’s capacity is limited, his memory short, his usefulness waning. Yet every Sunday he shows up to worship King Jesus with a smile on his face. Always in slacks, a dress shirt, and a perfectly tied necktie that lands just above his belt buckle, Roger stands with hands clasped in front, moving them up and down to the sound of the music as he sings every word of every song.
After attending the first service, Roger stands in the back of the sanctuary during the music of the second service. His participation is never distracting, but never passive. He may have forgotten some things, lost a few skills and a few steps, but he hasn’t forgotten how to worship his great God. READ MORE…
Sometimes pride looks an awful lot like humility. There are times that our pride convinces us to put on a great show of what looks to all the world like humility so that we will be seen and acknowledged by others. We swell with pride when we hear, “He is humble.” It is a tricky thing, the human heart—prone to deceive both ourselves and others.
The Apostle Paul was a genuinely humble man. He had a deep awareness of his own sin and a profound sense of his own unworthiness before God. When he wrote to the church at Philippi, he went to great lengths to explain that he knew himself to be the chief of sinners. He remembered with shame that by persecuting the Lord’s church, he had persecuted the Lord Himself (Phil. 3:6; Acts 9:4). He had much to humble him. READ MORE…
You’re Dead, Start Acting Like It
Or maybe I should have led with, “You’re Alive, Start Living Like It!” Both statements are true. At least that’s what Paul argues in his short gospel-rich book to the Colossian believers.
As the fragmentation of our modern, Western culture breaks its banks and washes sediment into our churches, as the gaps widen and the edges grow sharper, as the rhetoric rages ever brighter and the disenfranchised retreat in bruised hurt — now, even as much as it was needed then, we need to hear Paul’s fatherly exhortation:
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20–23, ESV)
450 Free eBooks Listed Alphabetically by Author
We believe the Church should have open access to Scripturally/Theologically sound edifying Christian literature and that one need not be held back from having a significant Christian library because of cost. Our ministry at Monergism involves providing quality Christian literature in accessible formats for free. These eBooks are high quality (not scanned) and available in ePub, .mobi (kindle) & .pdf formats, each with actively linked table of contents. The links below will take you to the download page. Lord Willing, this list will continue to grow. CHECK THIS OUT….
The Best Hike in Every State
Alpine scrambles and beach-front strolls; multi-day singletrack adventures and quick urban escapes; soaring trees and rolling sand dunes—every state in the country has something to offer intrepid hikers. So we rounded up a bucket-list-worthy, best-of-the-best guide. AN AMAZING RESOURCE… Where was this 40 years ago!!!
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
“In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.” J. Gresham Machen
“When Christ calls a man – he bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer