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Easter Sunday

Matt Carter    /    Mar 31, 2013

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Matt Carter speaks on Easter Sunday on Romans 10:9-10

Series: Easter Services

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Sermon Transcript

Jesus came and lived the life that none of us could live. He knew no sin, yet He died the death we should have died, that we deserved. He paid the penalty for our sin. He did it so we could become the righteousness of God through Him. So we could be holy and blameless in the sight of God, through Him. Now, when God looks at us, He no longer sees our sin, but the blood of Jesus.

 

We are not here just to celebrate the truth and reality that Jesus died, but that He also conquered death three days later.

 

I also don’t want us to simply celebrate the truth of the resurrection. If Jesus didn’t just die like everybody else, but actually walked out of the grave, then this truth requires more from us than simply a celebration.

 

How are we to respond to the truth of the resurrection?

 

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not simply a doctrine to be believed, but a reality to be lived out and displayed with our mouths and lives. This is a critical distinction in how we are to respond.

 

You can believe in the resurrection of Jesus, but never let the reality of it be displayed in your life.

 

One of the evidences of your salvation, that Christ is changing you and bringing about salvation in your life, is not simply you believe in the resurrection, but that you also confess it with your mouth and your life.

 

Some of you are thinking how is it possible not to do this? How can one not confess when you believe in your heart? Unfortunately, it’s possible.

 

Some guys were eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. They saw Him come out of the grave. They believed it was true, but because of the fear of what they would lose, they refused to confess it. Even though they believed, they would not confess and because they didn’t confess, they completely missed out on the salvation of Christ.

 

The Guards at the Tomb

 

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Matthew 27:57-66 (ESV)

 

The chief priests and the Pharisees hated Jesus. They had remembered that while Jesus was alive, He said He was going to die and rise again three days later. They went to Pilate, wanting to make sure the disciples wouldn’t steal Jesus’ body, making everyone think He had resurrected. Pilate gave them permission to seal the tomb and place some guards in front of it.

 

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. Matthew 28:1-3 (ESV)

 

These Roman guards were just doing their job, probably wondering why in the world they had to guard the tomb of some dead man. Then all of a sudden there was a massive earthquake. If that were not scary enough, they then looked up to see that the great stone sealing the tomb had been rolled away and an angel, whose appearance was like lightning, sitting atop it.

 

And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come; see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:4-6 (ESV)

 

They looked into the tomb and found Jesus gone. If anybody believed in the resurrection of Jesus, it was these men. They saw all of this occur with their own eyes.

 

How would you expect them to respond to this?

 

They just saw proof, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus was exactly who He said He was. He did exactly what He said He was going to do. He rose from the dead!

 

You would expect them to run and shout what they just saw; telling everyone about the earthquake and the angel who looked like lightning and Jesus rising from the dead.

 

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. Matthew 27:11-15 (ESV)

 

This is one of the saddest stories in the Bible to me. These men believed in the resurrection of Jesus, but because they were afraid of what they were going to lose, they would not confess it. Because these men would not confess what they believed, they missed the salvation of Jesus.

 

It is absolutely possible to believe the doctrine of the resurrection, but for fear of what we will lose, never display the reality of it with our mouths and lives.

 

Do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus?

 

As I was studying this week, I saw something I had never thought about before. The Great Commission is proof the resurrection actually happened.

 

Immediately following the story of the soldiers, you see a very much alive, resurrected Jesus. He looked at His disciples and told them to take everything they had heard and seen and go to the nations, making disciples of every tribe and tongue, to teach them to obey His commandments and baptize them.

 

He didn’t want them to stay, but to go.

 

And they went to the four corners of the earth telling the world about the resurrected Christ.

 

If Jesus Christ never came out of the grave, those guys would have just gone back to the house and moved on with their lives. You don’t leave everything and go to the nations for a guy who said he was going to rise from the dead, but didn’t. You don’t suffer and allow yourself to be tortured or to lose your life for a guy who didn’t rise from the dead.

 

Acts 5 tells the story of the disciples after the resurrection. They went teaching and proclaiming to everyone. The high priests, probably the same ones that paid off the soldiers, came to the disciples and told them if they didn’t stop teaching about Jesus’ resurrection, they would beat them. The disciples said they couldn’t stop proclaiming what they had seen and heard. If they had to beat them, they would have to beat them.

 

40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. Acts 5:40-42 (ESV)

 

You don’t get beat up and walk away rejoicing for a guy who claimed he would rise from the grave, but didn’t.

 

If that were not enough, eleven of the twelve disciples gave up their lives, dying violent deaths, because they wouldn’t stop proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus.

 

Andrew, the brother of Peter, was crucified. They had his hands tied together and as he was walking to his cross, he began to point at the cross. The Roman soldiers repeatedly hit his hands down, asking him what he was doing and did he not know he was about to die. He responded, “Of course I’m about to die on that cross. I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life. I’m about to meet my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” You don’t do that for a guy who said he would come out of the grave, but didn’t.

 

Peter, Andrew’s brother, was crucified upside down. He asked permission to be crucified upside down because he believed himself not worthy to be crucified in the same matter his Lord and Savoir was crucified. You don’t do that for a guy who didn’t rise from the dead.

 

One of the greatest proofs the resurrection really happened is the fulfilling of the Great Commission. Two thousand years later, thousands of us are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, because the disciples went to the nations, were tortured and died telling people about what they saw. You don’t do that for what you know is a lie.

 

I believe with all my heart that as we live and breathe, Jesus Christ is alive.

 

In light of that truth, how are you going to respond?

 

The resurrection of Christ from the grave, conquering death, is not simply a doctrine to be believed, but a reality that is to be confessed and lived out through out our everyday lives.

 

We have two responses to the evidence of the resurrection:

 

  1. A group of men who were not willing to confess, because they were afraid of what they would lose.
  2. A group of men who were willing to lose everything, so that they could confess and proclaim the truth.

 

Which one more reflects the picture of your faith?

 

35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. Mark 8:35 (ESV)

 

There’s a tension between the choices. It’s what Jesus talked about: the choice between simply believing in something and actually giving your life away for something, for displaying it through out your life.

 

Giving up what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose

 

I thought about ending today by telling you a story about a great theologian, or some great missionary; somebody that left everything and started some great movement. But I decided to tell you a story about somebody that’s in this room right now, a family in our church.

 

He’s a doctor. His wife also has a successful and lucrative job. They have an infant daughter. These are folks that have put in decades of education, invested hundreds of thousands into his career. In a few months they’re going to leave the comfort of this country and take their daughter to the nations. They’re going to southern Asia. They’re walking away from their lucrative jobs, right in the middle of their prime earning potential.

 

Who would do that? Why would somebody walk away from all that?

 

If the resurrection never happened, those people are foolish and are to be pitied above all men. Paul makes that statement in the scriptures. But. If the resurrection is true, if Jesus Christ really died and walked out of the grave, then all this family is doing is giving up what they cannot keep to gain what they cannot lose.

 

How are you going to respond to the truth of the resurrection?

 

Not all of us are called to leave this country and go be a missionary in some other country. But I believe, based on Romans, every believer ought to have that same heart and prayer. Let’s pray, “God, I’m not just going to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but by your power I’m going to confess it with my mouth and life.”