This is the manuscript of the seventh and final. sermon in the Centrality Of The Cross series, and a fitting end it is. It is the resurrection of Christ and our great salvation. If Jesus had not conquered death and the grave, we would not be in this worship service today. Christianity is the faith that claims a living founder. We, His disciples come together regularly for Bible study, prayer, and worship to experience his living presence in our midst.
Christianity is not just good advice; it is good news from a grave and a cemetery. It is good news about God for sinners everywhere. To miss this point, of the resurrection, is to miss the heart of the gospel. The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only makes possible our great salvation, but it also makes our salvation certain. Jesus Christ is alive!
For an audio recording click the YouTube link at the end of the manuscript
1 Corinthians 15:1-5, 12-20 NLT Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve.
12-20 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
Hebrews 7:24-25 NLT But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
This is the culmination of the series “The Centrality of the Cross”, and a fitting end it is. It is the resurrection of Christ and our great salvation.
If Jesus had not conquered death and the grave, we would not be in this worship service today. Christianity is the faith that claims a living founder. We, His disciples come together regularly for Bible study, prayer, and worship to experience his living presence in our midst
Matthew 18:20 NLT For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
Jesus Christ is alive.
Christianity is not just good advice; it is good news from a grave and a cemetery. It is good news about God for sinners everywhere. To miss this point, of the resurrection, is to miss the heart of the gospel. The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only makes possible our great salvation, but it also makes our salvation certain.
As our text says
Hebrews 7:25 NLT Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
It is interesting to notice how this verse is translated in some other modern versions. The Good News translation has, “He is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him, because he lives forever to plead with God for them.” J. B. Phillips has this beautiful paraphrase: “This means that he can save fully and completely those who approach God through him, for he is always living to intercede on their behalf.”
These inspired words affirm both the ability and the determination of the living Christ to fully save those who come to God by him. This possibility is based solidly on the fact of his conquest of sin, death, and the grave. He will abide forever as our living High Priest in the presence of the Father. Dr. Robert G. Lee, G. Lee not E. Lee, who was the pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, preached a sermon he called “The World’s Blackest Assumption.” Paul wrote about this black assumption, which was that Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead. We read it at the beginning. Let’s read it again;
1 Corinthians 15:14-18 NLT And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!
Here’s what we get from this;
- If Jesus Christ is not risen, the church has no message for a lost world (1 Cor. 15:14).
- If Jesus Christ is not risen, Christians have nothing to believe (15:14).
- If Jesus Christ is not risen, the apostles and all subsequent preachers have misrepresented God as having raised Jesus Christ (15:15).
- If Jesus Christ is not risen, your faith is an empty, worthless shell. (15:17). Did you ever pick up a pecan thinking that it would be filled with a delicious meat only to find that it was an empty shell? That is a picture of your faith if Jesus Christ is not risen.
- If Jesus Christ is not risen, you are still guilty and under the condemnation that results from sin.
- If Jesus Christ is not risen, those believers who died with faith in Jesus Christ perished. They are gone forever, and we are just whistling in the dark—if Jesus Christ is not risen.
- If Jesus Christ is not risen, we are very sad creatures because we have built our lives on an illusion.
However thank God that the world’s blackest assumption is a lie because, in fact Jesus Christ is gloriously risen from the dead.
The empty tomb declared to Jesus’ disciples, the Jewish leaders, and the Roman authorities that something had happened to the body that had been buried there. It was the repeated appearances of the risen Christ that completely transformed the hearts and lives of the apostles. They became flaming ambassadors of the good news that the penalty of sin had been paid, death had been conquered, and Jesus Christ is alive. The risen Christ appeared to his disciples at least ten different times. The thrilling truth of his resurrection gave them a message of hope for a world that was facing despair.
Like the sounds of a thousand silver trumpets, the apostles went out to proclaim that Jesus Christ is alive. This was no figment of their imagination. It was no illusion. It was no mirage, and many died because they proclaimed that Jesus is alive.
Romans 1:2-4 NLT God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Of course before his resurrection the apostles believed Jesus to be the Son of God.
Matthew 16:16 NLT Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Following his resurrection and many appearances to them, they now knew, without a doubt, that he was the Son of God. They proved that they knew it to the extent that they put their lives on the line to tell others of his saving grace. Jesus’ resurrection proved that his crucifixion showed divine love for sinners.
When Jesus was crucified, the apostles considered it a personal catastrophe. For their leader it was a public disgrace. For all of them it was a tragic political disappointment.
Only through an empty tomb from which Jesus had been raised could God reveal that his Son’s death on the cross was proof of his great love for sinners.
1 Peter 3:18 NLT Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.
Christ’s crucifixion demonstrated God’s unlimited love for unworthy sinners. This love is not something we can buy or earn. It is God’s free gift.
Many people are, although not as dramatic, as the example I’m going to give you, think that you must suffer just like Jesus in order to receive God’s wonderful grace that results in salvation.
There was a man who lived in the Philippines by the name Juanito Piring. He was a former gangster who wanted to make up for his sins. He had himself nailed to a cross each Good Friday for twelve straight years. He said he was reenacting the crucifixion to compensate for the errors of his youth. He said, “I subject myself to this torture to make up for my sins and the sins of others.” This sincere but misguided man was seeking to earn something that cannot be earned and to make atonement for sin that has already been atoned for in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
2. The resurrection enabled Jesus to intercede for us in God’s presence.
1 John 2:1-2 NLT My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
The author of Hebrews wrote of Christ as a mediator who acts on our behalf.
Hebrews 9:24 NLT For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.
He went on to say that Christ has offered himself through his sacrificial death as an atonement for the sins of those who accept him as Lord and Savior
Hebrews 10:10-14 NLT For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
It is by Christ’s victorious resurrection from the dead that his ministry of intercession is made possible. He is able to be our Savior from the penalty of sin, from the practice of sin, and eventually from the very presence of sin because he is a living Savior.
3. The resurrection gives believers a living Lord and companion for the road of life.
Jesus Christ is much more than an inspirational memory of somebody who lived in the past. In the forty days between his resurrection and his ascension, he gave the disciples many indisputable proofs that he had conquered death and the grave.
Acts of the Apostles 1:3 NLT During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
He repeatedly encouraged them to wait for a precious gift from the Father, God
Acts of the Apostles 1:4-5 NLT Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus had told them about the Holy Spirit before at a time that
They could not fully understand his words.
John 14:18 NLT No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.
He fulfilled this promise on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would come.
Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4 NLT On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
4. So what about us today?
A. With Peter, we should hear Jesus saying, “Follow me”.
John 21:18-22 NLT “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”
B. With the disciples who were present on the mountaintop, before He ascended to the Father, we should hear Jesus giving a divine mandate.
Matthew 28:18-19 NLT Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
C. We should hear Jesus make a promise to those of us who give ourselves in obedience to his command.
Matthew 28:20 NLT Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
At the cross, the decisive event in human history has taken place. It is the pivotal point of the greatest reversal ever known. The cross was the place where sin, death, and the powers of this world were defeated, once and for all. There is nothing more central to the Christian life than this.
But we can’t stop here. The cross of Jesus doesn’t only eliminate the problems of sin and death, nor does it only answer humanity’s longing for God; it also marks the beginning of a community of believers, the Church. A new community, a community of believers, that truly knows the power of joy. This is a community empowered like no other then or since to change the world in which we live by being changed ourselves.
All Christians now have a mandate to fulfil that mission and the power to achieve it. And to miss this would be to paint an anaemic picture of what was achieved at the cross.
Through the cross we entered day one of a new era in history.
This new day was followed and fulfilled by the resurrection and then the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost. Taken together, these three events—the cross, the resurrection, and the giving of the Holy Spirit—initiate and empower our agenda for change in the world.
John 17:14-19 NLT I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
We are to be in the world, changing it to be more aligned with the message of the good news of Jesus. But we are not of it. For the cross to be a victory, its power must give us the strength to face the demands and pressures of life’s battles and to understand at a deeper level the nature of those battles.
Yes, Jesus Christ is gloriously alive. He is standing at your heart’s door eager to bring God’s blessings into your life. Let him come in. Let him go with you along the pathway of your life. Walk with him as he leads you in meaningful living and significant service. Jesus Christ is alive! Hallelujah!
The cross stands above it all. Lord, today, I want to be reoriented. I stand, with all who follow you, at the foot of the towering cross, and I allow its power to reach wide and deep into every corner of my life that I might be oriented away from the self and reach out with power, purpose, love, and grace wherever you may call me,
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son and for the eternal life He purchased on my behalf at Calvary. If ever I doubt Your love for me, help me remember that You spared nothing—not even Jesus—to make a way for me to be with You forever. Help me live in the light of the gospel, dead to sin and raised to a new life with Christ. And with that new life, use me as Your ambassador to share the good news of salvation with others. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21 NLT Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.