God’s not Dead!
Vladimir Lenin was a driving force behind the Communist Revolution of 1917 and was the first dictator of the Soviet Union. He died in 1924 and his body is on permanent public display in Moscow.
Periodically, those responsible for Lenin’s body have to take him out of his glass case and wash the corpse with chemicals and repair areas that have become damaged. Today, there is little
left of Lenin, most of what you see is wax and makeup.
Some years ago, Writer & Broadcaster Dr. Adrian Rogers and his wife Joyce were in Russia, and while they were there, they visited Lenin’s Tomb. People are given strict instructions that they are not to speak a word as they walked through the mausoleum.
Dr. Rogers said that his wife Joyce, “normally follows all kinds of rules, but as they came to every guard, she said, ‘My Jesus is alive.’ To every single guard she said, ‘My Jesus is alive. My Jesus is alive.’” And not one of the guards made any remark back to her. She knew that her Saviour was not in a tomb
and she wanted to share the good news!
Proverbs 25:25 says, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” Today, I have exciting news to share! Today, we celebrate the glorious news that our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ is not dead and lying in a grave. Today, we celebrate the fact that He is risen from the dead and that the tomb He occupied is empty!
The exciting news that Jesus is alive is news that we need to hear and share again and again. It is news that should cause rejoicing. That news gives us all hope today. The hope of His resurrection should fill our hearts with joy! Our Jesus is alive!
The Lord is Risen, the Lord is Risen Indeed.
My Sermon today entitled “God’s not Dead” is a message to counter the popular supposition that God died on a Cross 2000 years ago, and that was the end of him? Some of us are happy to wear a Cross celebrating the Sacrifice Jesus made for us back then, while others will wear a Crucifix in memory of the same event. For me, the Crucifix fails to tell the whole story, I prefer the empty cross – for my God, and my Saviour is not Dead.
I would like for us to take some time today to return to Jerusalem and look in on the events that took place early that Sunday morning. I would like for us to hear the message of the resurrection as it was shared by the angel of the Lord that
came to the tomb of Jesus.
At dawn on the first day of the week, three days following the crucifixion of the Lord, some of the women who had trusted Him, followed Him, supported Him, and had been faithful to Him all the way to the cross, approached His grave to finish preparing His body for burial.
They came there that morning with spices expecting to find the body of Christ still lying in the tomb with a stone rolled over its mouth, and being guarded by Roman soldiers! They were in for the surprise and shock of their lives. Rather than finding the dead body of Jesus, they heard news that emerged, and encouraged their hearts. They heard news that shook the earth to its very foundations. They heard news that still reverberates down the corridors of both time and eternity!
As that little band of women approached the tomb that day, the earth shook, an angel appeared, and he rolled away the stone
from the mouth of the tomb. You should know that the angel did not roll the stone away so that Christ could come out; (He was already out) … he did so that they could go in!
That gleaming angel whose countenance was like lightening, and whose clothes were as white as snow, then sat upon the stone which he had rolled away! The soldiers who were there to guard the tomb were so shaken by what had happened and by the appearance of the angel that they became faint as dead men!
The women approached, and the angel answered all the questions that filled their hearts before they had a chance to ask anything. That angel preached a powerful message that morning. I want to share it with you today.
First of all let us consider the COMFORT we have in
knowing that God is not dead.
The Angels message began … Be Calm – Having already experienced the events of the previous days, these women were filled with fear and anxiety . They had been witness to the arrest, the crucifixion and the burial; and remember that this was the one for whom they had left all to follow. Their hearts were already heavy and troubled over the death of their Lord. They became even more troubled at the sights that met them as they approached the tomb early that morning.
The message of the resurrection is stay calm; have faith; don’t be troubled or anxious! We can experience calm, peace, and rest through any situation and circumstance that we may face in
life, because of His resurrection!
Why? The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead proves that our God is sovereign and in absolute control!
If He can raise His Son from the dead, then there is nothing our
God cannot do! A God that powerful knows how to give peace
to His children in spite of the circumstances in which they
may find themselves.
I can also hear the Angel message say Be Courageous –
The message of the resurrection should give us courage!
It should instil courage in our hearts because death was defeated for all who believe in Jesus. Death is no longer our enemy, but it is a friend to the child of God – Paul tells Timothy that he was eagerly waiting for it; 2 Tim. 4:6.
It should give us courage because he lives, and is seated at the right hand of God; praying, interceding on our behalf.
Let me tell you a story; On May Day, 1990, a parade was taking place in Moscow’s Red Square. All the official might of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was on display that day. There was a huge procession of tanks, missiles, troops, and salutes to the Communist party elite. Behind the tanks surged a giant crowd of protesters, shouting up at Mikhail Gorbachev. “Bread!…Freedom!…Truth!”
As the throng passed directly in front of the Soviet leader standing in his place of honour, some Russian Orthodox priests lifted a huge 8 foot tall crucifix into the air. The cross emerged from the crowd. As it did, the figure of Jesus Christ obscured the giant poster faces of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin that provided the backdrop for Gorbachev’s reviewing stand. “Mikhail Sergeyevich!” one of the priests shouted out, his deep voice penetrating the clamour of the protesters and piercing straight toward the angry Soviet leader. “Mikhail Sergeyevich! Christ is risen!” he shouted. Is that not Courage? He was not afraid of the consequences of such bravery? Have you the courage to stand up for Jesus, a soldier of His cross?
Then the Angels message was one of Confidence. – The command to “fear not” should fill our hearts with confidence because Jesus always keeps His Word! His promises are real, and certain. His words are true! We can count on Him. He will do what He says! Every promise He has made to us, is a promise that He can and will keep.
· He will meet your needs, Matt. 6:25-34
· He will keep you safe, 1 Pet. 1:5.
· He will provide for you a home in Heaven, John 14:1-3.
· He will return for you one day, 1 Thes. 4:16-17.
· He will walk with you every step of the way, Matt. 28:20,
· He will keep you close and clean, 1 John 1:7.
As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that surely must rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband. This is Confidence in the Resurrection
Next, let us consider the CHALLENGE that confronts us
knowing that God is not dead?
There’s A Challenge To Examine – The angel said: “Come and see the place where the Lord lay” says the angel – It is an invitation to examine the claim of the resurrected Lord. His body which had been previously placed inside the tomb by Joseph and Nicodemus no longer lies where they had placed it. The empty tomb is a powerful argument!
It is interesting to note that no search was ever made for his body – though the officials would claim that it had been stolen, Matt. 28:11-15. There were never any arrests made of any of the disciples though one would think that they would have been the most likely suspects, Matt. 28:13.
If we examine the claims of the resurrection, and they have been examined by the greatest of minds for 2,000 years, there is no other explanation but that Jesus did just what He had promised, John 10:18! He rose from the dead in victory, glory and power!
You may have never heard of Sir Lionel Luckhoo. But if you open the Guinness Book of Records you’ll discover he is listed as the most successful trial lawyer ever – he had successfully defended 245 murder cases in a row!
Yet despite his fame, success, and wealth he felt empty inside. The older he got the more meaningless his life appeared. Then at 63 he turned his analytical skills to the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. He found that the message of Jesus’ resurrection satisfied his personal need for intellectual questioning.
“I have spent more than forty-two years as a defence lawyer in many parts of the world.” he later wrote. “I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt!” The Challenge to Examine!
But the Resurrection poses yet another challenge;
The Challenge To Experience – The message of the angel who rolled the stone away is also an invitation to experience. The words “come and see” mean “come to know”. Jesus not only wants you to believe in the resurrection of Christ, but He wants you to know Him, to experience Him in a personal way!
A recent survey shows that nearly 80% of Church goers say that they believe in the resurrection of Christ, but that does not mean that 80% know Him. The resurrected Christ wants you to know Him! It is not enough to just know the Story, you must know the Saviour!
We live in a generation marked by knowledge. Yet, while men learn more and more, they are steadily moving farther away from the Lord. Our knowledge of science has already outstripped our capacity to control it. Mankind has accumulated so much advanced knowledge that the simple story of the crucifixion and the resurrection seems too simple and old-fashioned. But, that is the only message that will save the lost soul, and the lost world. Rom. 1:16.
Do you know Jesus experientially?
Have you met with the risen Lord? Have you invited the risen Lord to live inside you, and to deliver you from spiritual death? If your knowledge of Jesus begins with a baby in a manger and ends with something about a bunny and an egg, then you need to know that there is more to the story than that.
Once you have experienced Jesus, his love and his life, then Easter Day brings a shout of joy from the depth of the Heart.
“Because he lives I too shall live”
Many years ago, Author and Preacher Rev W.E. Sangster contracted an incurable disease that slowly caused his muscles to waste away; his voice to fail and his throat to become unable
to swallow. He continued in ministry, right up until the point where his voice had gone and he could barely hold a pen. On Easter morning, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote in a letter to his daughter: “It is terrible to wake up Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout “He is risen!” – but it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”
Are we living as though our Lord is risen and living within our hearts? Are we sharing the message that “He lives” with others? We are not to linger near the tomb, but we are to take that good news that it is empty and that Jesus lives into the entire world.
Every year 57.9 million people die in this world. That is 2 people every second of every day. 110 each minute; 6,619 every hour and 158,857 people die and slide off into eternity every day. By the time I finish preaching this message some 4,800 people will die. Most of them will die and go into a Godless eternity. They need to hear the Gospel of the love of Jesus.
Every body of every deceased leader and founder of every major religion in this world is in a tomb somewhere. But, you can search every tomb in Israel and you will never find the bones
or the dust of the Lord Jesus. God’s not dead!
I’ve been there, inside His tomb, and He is gone!
Lastly, let us consider the CONFIDENCE we have
that God is not dead.
A Confidence that The Lord Precedes Us – “he goeth before you” – We can spread the news of the risen Lord because he precedes us! Because He walks before us, and guides us, and instructs us, and lives in us, we can accomplish great things
through Him; Phil 4:13; says “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”.
He is working ahead of us, preparing the way and preparing people to hear what we have to say about Him!
He is with us no matter the circumstance. In Matthew. 28:18-20 Jesus says: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world”. We do not minister alone, or within our own power. He goes with us and He enables us to do
all of His will!
Moreover, the resurrection grants us …
A Confidence that we too shall meet Him – “there shall ye see him” – Oh, they ran to spread the news, but they also ran to see Him, v. 9! It wasn’t long until they ran right into Him!
One day we too shall see the risen Lord face to face! We serve Him with gladness and joy today because we know that we will see Him in the glory some day.
In 1 Cor. 13:12, Paul said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
God’s not dead…
I serve Him with the sure knowledge that I shall meet Him face to face in Heaven someday. 1 John 2:28.
Will you be there also?
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
“Doctor, I want you to get me well by Sunday!” said Charlie not yet five years old, stricken suddenly with a fatal disease. “Why, my boy?” asked the doctor. “Well, you know, our teacher showed us the tabernacle last Sunday. We saw all the outside, but there was a curtain, and teacher said the priest went in behind it to speak to God, and she is going to show us about it next Sunday. Oh, Doctor, shan’t I be able to go? I do so want to see inside where God is.” The doctor had walked to the window while Charlie was speaking, but now came back, and laid a caressing hand on the child’s feverish brow – and he said softly, “Next Sunday, Charlie, you will see the place where God is.” Next Sunday the child had passed away—the little white crib was empty. Little Charlie had passed from earth to “the place where God lives.”
But Charlie was not dead, because God is not dead, and those who believe, and are converted, will never die. Charlie just went to be with Jesus and to see the place where God lives.
Will you ever see that place?
God Bless you! Amen.