Love and Hate, 1 John 2:7-11, 26 April 2015

Big Idea: Followers of Jesus are to love one another, and this requires sacrificial action, not mere tolerance.

Scripture: 1 John 2:7-11


Two weeks ago while visiting our daughter in New York City I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago but this was my first visit to The Met. It is a fantastic home to priceless sculptures, pottery, musical instruments, and, of course, paintings.

Heather and I recently saw a powerful film, The Woman in Gold, an historical movie about a painting captured by the Nazis and the quest by the rightful owner to have it returned. Spoiler alert: it was eventually returned…and sold in 2006 for over $130 million!

That’s pocket change, though, compared to the February sale of Paul Gauguin’s “Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (When Will You Marry?) for $300 million!

Which begs three questions:

  1. Who has that kind of money?
  2. Why would you choose to spend that much on that painting?
  3. How do you know it’s real?

Can you imagine spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a painting and discovering it to be a fake?

There’s an old expression that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Things are not always as they appear, and our world is filled with counterfeits, be they paintings, money, or even people.

In our series “Love Illuminated” we’re looking at the book of 1 John, a letter from one of Jesus’ best friends to early believers of the movement we know as Christianity. The early church was threatened by outsiders who wanted to dismiss, disrupt, or even destroy this new religion. An even greater threat, however, came from within, those who claimed to follow Jesus but failed to do so.

One of John’s goals in this letter is to test the authenticity of their spiritual vigor. Last week we saw two of those tests:

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. (1 John 2:4)

I suggested God’s love language is probably obedience. Knowing God involves action. It’s not simply going to church or reading the Bible or even memorizing scriptures, but rather it is responding to the commands of God. It is obeying god.

Two verses later John wrote

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

This phrase “to live in Him” is the Greek term “meno” which John used forty times in his gospel and 27 times in this epistle. It speaks of the indwelling of the Christian in God or even possibly of God indwelling us. It is to abide or remain, to truly know God. Jesus did not come to begin a new religion, but rather He showed us what it means to be human and He invites us to follow Him, His teachings, and His example.

1 John 2:7-11

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.
(1 John 2:7)

What’s the old command? Love God and love you neighbor. It was presented generations earlier.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

One way we love God is by loving our neighbor.

“ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)

John’s audience had been told love God. They had been told to love their neighbor.

Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:8)

Jesus not only taught commands, He followed them. He said

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)

Those are strong and difficult words! Jesus demonstrated them, however, even praying for those who crucified Him.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

The center of God’s will is to love one another, and what made it new was Jesus. He showed us what it truly means to love—not tolerate, not co-exist, but love.

What’s so exciting to me is the Holy Spirit filled Jesus with unconditional love and offers it to us, too, if we are willing to ask and receive.

How crazy would it be for Jesus to just say, “Love” and walk away? The first part of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 is love. We are to receive God’s love from the Holy Spirit and let it overflow in our lives to others.

This is not about trying harder. It’s about aligning ourselves with the Light.

The moon has no internal light. It cannot be brighter for us by trying harder. In fact, it can’t shine at all…unless it is aligned with the sun.

We, also, must be aligned with the Son, S-o-n. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, letting go and letting God. We are to die and surrender our lives daily to God if we hope to experience His presence and power in our lives and be a blessing to others. We need to grow daily and we grow by feeding upon bread, the Word.

John’s first test of authentic believers was obedience. The second was love that looks like Christ’s love.

Here’s the third:

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. (1 John 2:9)

None of us hate, right?! This is church, after all!

Hate is the absence of the deeds of love. That could include indifference! We often think hate is only expressed in violence or harm, but passivity or inaction could be hateful. Love unexpressed is not love at all. It is not neutral.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. contrasted hate and love beautifully when he said,

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” -
Strength to Love

He’s undoubtedly reflecting John’s words, which continue…

Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. (1 John 2:10-11)

Haters are in darkness. Lovers are in the light.


Loving others—especially other believers—is the test of genuine faith. We’re family. Family loves through thick and thin.

Have you ever noticed the power of love in a family? Some families say and do terrible things to one another, yet there is an understanding of love, a lifelong commitment to the other person. The real test of one’s love is not found in the good times, but in the midst of suffering. You see who your true friends and family are when things get hard.

Increasingly in our culture family is not merely people with the same last name, but those with whom we do life. This was, perhaps, even more true in the early church where believers were persecuted, resources were often scarce, and the movement of Jesus was spreading virally—without social media!

God’s redemptive plan was never to get people saved or get people to an altar…the plan of God was to reconcile people to His family. Jesus came to rebuild God’s family.

Let’s face it, love is hard! It sounds easy, but it’s not. By love I don’t mean nice or tolerant. I mean looking out for the best interest of the other person. Love involves action. It involves sacrifice. It involves!

C.S. Lewis said
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
An Example: Reconciliation in Armenia
Although many are aware of my German roots, I’m also one quarter Armenian. This past week marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the slaughter of up to 1.5 million of the 2 million Armenians by Turks. Needless to say, for a century there has been tremendous animosity between Armenians and Turks.
How do you tell an Armenian Christian to just love Turks, knowing your ancestors were destroyed by their ancestors? It’s certainly akin to asking Jews to forgive Germans.
My great grandfather was a victim of the Genocide. Though not killed, he hid in a ditch filled with dead bodies, eventually able to escape to the United States.
Earlier this month, a group of Turkish Christians stood before TV cameras at the Armenian Genocide Memorial and said, “We came to share your pain. We have come here to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness.” The new report said
Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: “We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.”

Significantly, the Turks were joined by a number of local Armenian Christians who formed a huge circle, holding hands together around the memorial as they prayed aloud in Turkish and Armenian for their nations and peoples.

One Western observer of the Yerevan gathering confessed, “I may never see something like this ever again in my life. I was a spectator, watching the walls of division and hostility come down. It’s what the gospel of Christ should be doing all over the world, bringing true reconciliation.”

This is what love for one’s brother looks like. This is what it means to walk in the light.

The Bible is filled with descriptions of light and darkness. Few things contrast greater.

We’ve all been born into sin, into darkness, but we’ve been given an invitation to the Light, an invitation we can accept or reject.

Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

So What?

Love, don’t hate. If only it were that simple!

You may be saying, “I don’t hate anybody. Haters gonna hate.” This isn’t about how you react to someone who cuts you off on the expressway, a momentary action. Hate in this context is a state of being, a habit of failing to love someone.

If we love, we’re in the light. If we’re in the light, we can love, we can shine. But it won’t happen if we merely try harder. We must abide. We must remain. We must be with God through prayer, worship, study of scripture, and fellowship.


If I were to purchase a million dollar painting I’d hire an expert to authenticate the work of art. They would surely have a variety of tests to determine whether it is a fake or the genuine article.

Likewise, John had tests to determine authentic followers of Jesus from fakers who talk the talk but fail to walk the walk.

Do you obey? Even when it’s inconvenient? Even when it’s costly?

Do you live as Jesus lived? Are you a “little Christ,” imitating His words and deeds?

Do you love? Your friends? Your family? Your neighbors? Your enemies? Not love in your head, but love in action?

Jesus did. He set the bar high, but He gives us the Holy Spirit to enable us to live like Christ.


You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Sin and Obedience, 1 John 2:1-6, 19 April 2015

Big Idea: God’s love language is obedience

Q&A (question from last week)


Last week we began a new series on the book of 1 John entitled Love Illuminated. Love and light are two dominant themes in this short book written to the early Church by one of Jesus’ three best friends, John, the same man who wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation.

John describes in the third verse of the book, which we examined last week, the purpose:

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

1 John is written to followers of Jesus so they might have fellowship with one another and with God.

Last week someone texted in a question about the plural “we.” It is a reference to the early Church leaders. Just as I might use “we” to describe Scio’s elders, so John is representing the first disciples of Jesus who have become “fathers” to new believers.

This is a book about fellowship, about relationship.

Have you ever had a strained relationship? How did it feel?

Sometimes people confuse position with status. For example, my position might be daddy to my kids, but the status of our relationship may be strained in a given moment.

Our passage today does not deal with salvation. John is writing to children of God. It does, however, deal with fellowship, the status of our relationships with God and one another.



Who do you love? It’s a simple question. Think about the people in your life that you most love. Why do you love them? How do you express that love?

Dr. Gary Chapman’s best-selling book
The Five Love Languages provides the five ways people express love (we’ve looked at these before):

  • words of affirmation
  • physical touch
  • quality time
  • acts of service
  • gifts

A note to couples, it is extremely rare for both of you to have the same love language and, therefore, you need to learn the language of the other person and speak their language…since speaking yours is rarely as meaningful.

I believe God’s love language is

As a dad, I can tell you obedience—and physical touch/hugs—is my love language. If I ask my kids to clean their room and they buy me gifts and say nice things to me but leave Coke cans in their room attracting ants—or worse—I don’t feel loved! I feel disrespected and ignored. Daddy usually knows best…especially when the ants arrive!

So many people talk a great talk about following Jesus on Sunday, singing songs and putting money in the offering plate, but ignoring Him during the week. This is nothing new. When Saul disobeyed God, he told Samuel about the great things he did for God.

But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

Which brings us to our passage for today.

Scripture: 1 John 2:1-6

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. (1 John 2:1a)

John speaks as a father to his children, his dear children, his spiritual children. The word “children” in the Greek is a term of endearment.

Sin is anything that separates us from God. By definition, it affects the status of that relationship. If I sin against you, our fellowship is strained. Any sin is ultimately a sin against God.

But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1b-2)

Here’s a good “but!” We all sin. We all fall short of God’s glory, His standard of perfection, His righteousness. Praise God for Jesus, the Advocate, the Righteous One who died for us. He is the propitiation for us, meaning He atoned for our sins, meaning His suffering paid for our sins. He took our punishment. The wages of sin is death, and Jesus died as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. He is the atoning sacrifice: at one moment Jesus died to reconcile us to our heavenly Dad.

This is truly good news!

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. (1 John 2:3)

Christians are not permitted to do whatever they please. They must do what pleases God. This is a radical notion, especially in our hyper-individualistic culture that says do it now, have it now, and seize your rights.

We know that we know…Him if…we keep His commands. You can’t know if you’re disobeying God. The assurance comes when we keep His commands. That brings peace. That bring joy.

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. (1 John 2:4)

Strong words! Any mystery to what he is saying? A disobedient Christian is a liar!

Disobedience is proof we don’t know God.

Many people call themselves Christians but that doesn’t mean they are really God’s children.

Do you love God’s commands?

King David did. Perhaps that’s why he’s called a man after God’s own heart despite his own sins and shortcomings.

The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. (Psalm 19:8b)

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. (Psalm 119:35)

Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. (Psalm 119:98)

I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. (Psalm 119:131)

It’s easy to talk the talk, but walking the walk is another story.

The test of your car battery is not when it’s 70 degrees and sunny, but ten below zero.

The test of your patience is not when you’re relaxing at the beach, but when you’re stuck in an hour-long traffic backup.

The test of your faith is not what happens on Sunday morning, but 24 hours later when the boss—or teacher—barks out an order for you.

Jesus said…

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: (1 John 2:5)

The Word of God and the commandments of God.

The commandments are the Word of God.

The Word of God includes the commandments…and more.

Jesus said

“If you love me, keep my commands. (John 14:15)

Jesus replied,
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

Children of God want to not only do the commandments but please the Father in all they do. Not “how far can I go and still be a Christian?” Is it ok for a Christian to _________? That’s the wrong question. The right question is, “What can I do to please my heavenly Father?”

Do you want to please God or yourself?

The commandments are one thing, but the word is another.

What is your attitude toward sin? What do you do when you sin?

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

Jesus is our example. He did the Father’s will. He obeyed the Father.

Do you think it pleased Jesus to die on the cross? No, but it pleased the Father.

So What?

Are you living as Jesus did? Of course we all fail to live up to His perfect standard, but each week it’s helpful to reflect, to remember, to read, to realize Jesus is the One we strive to follow.

We are not merely to obey commands but follow His example, be in fellowship with Him, do life with Him.

Jesus said the greatest thing in all of life is to

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30)

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

God Is Light, 1 John 1, 12 April 2015

Big Idea: God is light and we are walk with Him.

Author: John writing on behalf of the Apostles

Audience: the early Church

Date: 85-90 AD


We examined John’s gospel.
We examined John’s second and third letters.
We have not examined John’s vision much, a book called Revelation.


John is one of Jesus’ three best friends. He wrote the gospel of John. His purpose in writing was clear:

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

The gospel of John was written around 65 AD, maybe 75-80 AD. Perhaps twenty years or so have passed and we come to 1 John.This is commonly regarded as a letter or epistle, but the form is more like a homily, like a sermon. Some have called it a “letter-essay.”

Imagine being an early follower of Jesus. Maybe you actually encountered him or had friends who witnessed a miracle or even the crucifixion. This new movement called The Way, now known as Christianity, is involving both Jews and Gentiles, two vastly opposing groups. New Christians were being expelled from the synagogues, some of whose colleagues denied Jesus as Messiah and returned to the synagogue. They needed encouragement. Christianity was a startup religion in the shadow of an established, powerful Judaism. It was bold and risky to follow Jesus.

There were other challenges for early believers beyond social and religious rejection. Heresy was growing, including idolatry and the emergence of false prophets.

Docetists believed Jesus was divine but never human.

Cerinthians believed the Christ-Spirit merely came on Jesus but He was not the Christ.

Some Gnostics believed they could not commit real sins.

The real challenge was “secessionists,” people who were Christians but withdrew from the community. John offers two ways to test the spirits: a moral-ethical test (obedience to the commandments) and a faith test (proper view of Jesus).

Who is Jesus? Last month we looked at our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King. He is fully God yet fully human. Many claim to believe in Jesus, but what do they believe?

We often get excited when someone says they believe in God. But what God? What do they believe? Jesus’ half-brother said

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:19)

Even demons believe in Jesus…but they do not follow Him as LORD. That’s huge.

It’s easy to romanticize the early church, being in the presence of the likes of Peter, Paul, and John. Yet it was a messy time. There were antichrists, gossip, heresy, division, church splits…some things never change! John addressed this letter to one community, but it was probably intended to be shared with the other churches.

2 John was likely written soon after, a book with warnings about false teachers.

The purpose of this writing is expressed in the fifth and final chapter.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

This is written to believers in Jesus to encourage them and assure them of their salvation.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 John 1:1)

This may refer to creation, but more likely John is speaking of his eyewitness relationship with Jesus, the beginning of the gospel proclamation. He saw and touched Jesus. He is not a historian writing about an ancient figure, but rather a biographer describing his personal friend.

Some believed Jesus was God but not human.
Some believed Jesus was human but not God.

John touched Jesus. He wasn’t a ghost or vision or a divine apparition like Greek gods.
John witnessed the crucifixion and saw the risen Jesus.

We see echoes in this verse of John 1:1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Jesus is the Word. Jesus is God.

The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1:2-4)

Jesus appeared. This is a reference to the Incarnation, God becoming one of us.

John’s message is passionate. He proclaims Jesus! Why? Fellowship and joy.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

Light and darkness was a common image of contrast. Imagine life without electricity. Fire (from the sun or a flame) was the only source of light. Light and darkness is the perfect contrast between sin and righteousness. The Old Testament condemned the mixing of light and darkness, right and wrong. God is light.

Peter also spoke of the contrast between light and darkness, sin and righteousness.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

The Old Testament described obedience as walking.

The Old Testament spoke of sacrificial blood as purifying for sins.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

Some believed they had become sinless…of their sins were not sinful.

Notice how John essentially repeats his message about sinlessness…and places one of the most beautiful verses in the entire Bible right in the middle.

God required confession and repentance.

So What?

First and foremost, we are all sinners.

Second, we need Jesus. Jesus is God. Jesus is human. Jesus is real. Jesus is alive!

Third, we can experience forgiveness and purification. Hallelujah!

Fourth, we are to walk in the light. We are to obey.

Fifth, if we obey, we have fellowship with one another.

The Moon

The moon contains no light, yet it beautifully reflects the sun so brightly that it illuminates our night skies.

We are not the light. Jesus is the light. We are the moon. We reflect the light…if we walk in the light.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Because He LIves, Easter 2015, 5 April 2015

Big Idea: The resurrection changes everything!

The Butterfly Effect

chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” So states Wikipedia.

Put into plain English, the Butterfly Effect, attributed to Edward Lorenz, is a belief that a butterfly’s wings flapping eventually create a typhoon that hits land on the other side of the world.

A snowflake by itself weighs nothing, but enough of them will collapse oak trees and roofs.

A woman named Rosa Parks simply sat on a bus and sparked the Civil Rights movement.

Ten years earlier, a man named Jackie Robinson was court-martialed (and acquitted) for not moving to the back of a bus.

You might call this butterfly effect a chain reaction. One event can change everything. No event changed human history like the resurrection.

Because He lives. One moment in history about two thousand years ago changed everything. You could argue there were two. The first was the death of Jesus.

There is unanimous agreement among scholars that Jesus died. He was given an honorable burial. That the tomb was discovered to be empty. That there were post-mortem appearances of Jesus by the disciples. With the exception of Muslims who believe Jesus never actually died on the cross, virtually every scholar will tell you a historical person named Jesus lived, taught, and died. The primary controversy surrounds our celebration today—His resurrection.

Church history is full of creeds, statements of faith. Perhaps the oldest creed of the Christian faith comes within three years of the death of Jesus (see James Dunn). It was recorded in Paul’s letter to the people in Corinth.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

  • Christ died for us
  • Christ was buried
  • Christ was raised again

Much is made of the death of Christ, and rightfully so. We remember it each month as we engage in communion or the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist (call it what you like!). What Jesus accomplished on the cross was immensely important. But it was not enough.

The cross seems to get most of the attention. People have turned the horrific object of torture into a religious symbol, even a celebrated piece of jewelry. The real focus should be on the empty tomb, an image that is, admittedly, a bit more complex to depict! Still, perhaps we should wear empty tombs rather than crosses around our necks!

When I was in Jerusalem several years ago I was curious about the place where Jesus died. There are two common possibilities, one now inside The
Church of the Holy Sepulcher and another outside the city, a hill that looks like a skull. Both are interesting sites, but I wanted to see the empty tomb!

He is risen!

Paul was a Jesus freak! He was a leading Jewish leader named Saul who persecuted Christians…until He encountered Jesus. His witness alone is tremendous evidence of the resurrection, for dead men are not known to speak, and only lunatics would be persecuted for a lie, a myth, or a mirage as he and so many others were, including countless martyrs…simply for the belief in the resurrection. Paul wrote

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

There are many “ifs” in those verses! It’s hard for me to imagine life without the resurrection. Paul continues to state things in the positive.

But* Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

* when you see a “but” in a sentence, usually the only thing that matters is what follows!

Our faith is based on not merely a life or a death but on the resurrection. The resurrection is not only the true center of the Christian faith, but it signals God's initiative in the renewing of creation. The resurrection both embodies and empowers the destiny of God’s people as divine image-bearers from now to forever.

So What?

The resurrection is everything!

I recently bought a book called
Risen: 50 Reasons Why The Resurrection Changed Everything by Steven Mathewson.

  1. To Give Us Eternal Life (John 11:25–27)
  2. To Show His Power over Death (Acts 2:24; Romans 6:9)
  3. To Heal Us (Acts 4:10)
  4. To Receive the Blessings Promised to David (Acts 13:34)
  5. To Forgive Our Sins (Acts 13:37–38; 1 Corinthians 15:17)
  6. To Elevate His Power and Authority (Romans 1:4)
  7. To Justify Sinners (Romans 4:23–25; Acts 13:39)
  8. To Give Us a New Way to Live (Romans 6:4, 8–11)
  9. To Unite Us with Him in His Resurrection (Romans 6:5–8)
  10. To Make Us Fruitful (Romans 7:4)
  11. To Give Life to Our Mortal Bodies (Romans 8:11)
  12. To End Our Obligation to the Flesh (Romans 8:12–13)
  13. To Provide Us with Future Glory (Romans 8:18)
  14. To Set Creation Free from Its Bondage (Romans 8:21–22)
  15. To Adopt Us into God’s Family (Romans 8:23)
  16. To Intercede for Us at God’s Right Hand (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:23–25)
  17. To Fulfill the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4; Luke 24:44–47)
18. To Make Our Faith and Preaching Worthwhile (1 Corinthians 15:14–15)
19. To Guarantee Our Future Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20–23; 1 Thess. 4:14)
20. To Destroy All Other Powers through His Reign (1 Corinthians 15: 24–27)
21. To Destroy the Enemy of Death (1 Corinthians 15: 26, 54–57; Luke 20:36)
22. To Give Us a Reason to Endanger Our Lives (1 Corinthians 15: 30–31)
23. To Deliver Us from Self-Indulgence (1 Corinthians 15:32)
24. To Give Us Heavenly, Imperishable Bodies (1 Corinthians 15: 42–48)
25. To Clothe Us with His Image (1 Corinthians 15:49)
26. To Give Us Immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53)
27. To Overcome the Power of the Law (1 Corinthians 15: 56–57)
28. To Make Serving the Lord Worthwhile (1 Corinthians 15:58)
29. To Give Us Hope in Hard Times (2 Corinthians 1: 8–11)
30. To Give Us a Greater Purpose in Life (2 Corinthians 5:15)
31. To Let Us Experience God’s Mighty Power (Ephesians 1:18–20)
32. To Display God’s Amazing Grace (Ephesians 2:6–7)
33. To Bring Victory into Our Intimacy with Him (Philippians 3:10–11)
34. To Make Us Full in Him (Colossians 2:9–12)
35. To Reorient Our Desires (Colossians 3:1–2)
36. To Let Us Appear with Him in Glory (Colossians 3:4; Acts 1:11)
37. To Enable Us to Kill Our Old Way of Life (Colossians 3:5–10)
38. To Rescue Us from Coming Wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
39. To Serve as Our Eternal Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 7:17)
40. To Give Us New Birth into a Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3; Acts 23:6; 1 Thess. 4:13–14)
41. To Glorify the Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:18–21; Acts 3:13–15)
42. To Show That Death Does Not Stop Us from Living (Matt. 22:30–32; Rom. 14:9)
43. To Confirm His Words about Being Raised to Life (Matthew 28:5–7)
44. To Continue the Mission of God (Matthew 28:18–20)
45. To Share His Presence with His Followers until His Return (Matthew 28:20)
46. To Teach More about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3)
47. To Prove God’s Commitment to Justice (Acts 17:31)
48. To Make Possible the Judgment of Wicked (Jn 5: 28-30; Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:11-15)
49. To Give Him Complete Supremacy (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:4–5)
50. To Provide Life in the Unfiltered Presence of God (Revelation 21:3–4, 22; 22:1)

Because He lives…we are alive.

  • literally true via creation (John 1:1-4)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:1-4)

  • figuratively true in that we have abundant life (John 10:10)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

  • eschatologically true (John 11:25-26; John 3:16)

Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. (John 11:25-26a)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

• Because He lives…we have a future

  • a future with Him, forever

Because He lives, resurrection is possible. All things are possible.

Today is the greatest day on the calendar! It’s bigger and better than Christmas, your birthday, the Super Bowl, and Groundhog Day combined!

Everything changed on Resurrection Sunday and because He lives, there is hope for all of us.

• Because He lives…we have hope.

To Show His Power over Death (Acts 2: 24; Romans 6: 9)

  • nothing is impossible for God
  • sin and death have been conquered
  • what should we fear?
  • bad news is temporary
  • the best is yet to come
  • God is working NOW (Jesus is alive!)

As a pastor on Easter I’m supposed to tell you because Jesus rose from the dead,

  • there’s hope for you dead marriage
  • there’s hope for your dead financial situation
  • there’s hope for your dead relationships
  • there’s hope for your dead-end job
  • there’s hope for your dying body
  • there’s hope for your dead emotions

Because He Lives (Amen)

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.