Today we are celebrating one of the biggest days in our Christian Faith. Jesus obviously is the central part of this day and the fact that He conquered death and gave us new life! If you are here at Resonate for the first time today or have only been with us for a little while, you may be wondering what we are about. We are a Foursquare church and for the next few weeks you will hear about the Foursquare Gospel. Foursquare is a word used for full or complete. Jesus is the central theme of the Foursquare Gospel. He is our Savior, our Healer, our Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, and our soon-coming King. Today is going to be about our Wonderful Savior!
I. What is the Gospel?
Every person at some time comes to ask themselves this question: ”Where did we come from?” If you have been around long enough, you probably have wondered what happens to those who experience death.
This question leads us to the story of Creation. God created everything and it was perfect. Man was created in the image of God and was given dominion over the world.
Then came the Fall. The serpent deceived Adam and Eve and convinced them to eat from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and then sin entered the world. Sin separated us from our Father, so He immediately set into motion a plan of redemption.
We live in a fallen world and we feel the effects of sin, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Death and pain were not part of God's plan. Loneliness, depression, fear, hate, violence, shame, rejection - turn on the news for a few minutes and you will see signs of a fallen world.
This leads us to God's plan for redemption - Jesus.
John 3:16-17: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
1 Corinthians 15:2-4: 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.
This is what we a celebrating today - the Resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we are wasting our time.
Acts 4:12: There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.
There is only one way to be saved - through Jesus Christ.
Biggest misunderstandings about the Bible:
- Why did He send His son?
- So that He can forgive and we can go to heaven. This is a self-serving message that benefits me but doesn’t change me.
- It's not about praying a prayer so that you can go to Heaven.
- It’s not about trying to be a good person - it’s about becoming like Jesus. We can never earn our salvation because it is a free gift. We can’t change our lives. Only God can change us. Going to church every Sunday does not transform your life. Surrendering to Jesus transforms your life.
- The gospel is not a survival kit - it is a way of life.
- We are not trying to hold on until Jesus comes. We are releasing His Kingdom everywhere we go, because His Kingdom resides in us. Don’t wake up and try not to sin. Don’t try to live the Christian life. That's legalism. Jesus didn’t come to benefit us but to transform us.
- We are not trying to fit God into our lives.
- We are surrendering our lives to Him and walking in His life. Jesus didn’t come to forgive you so that you can go to Heaven. He came to put Heaven in you so that you could convey Him, model Him, and manifest Him. The Gospel is not knowing about Jesus and what He did for us. It’s about knowing Him and abiding in His presence every moment of every day.
II. Encountering Jesus is a life-changing experience
Luke 24:13-19: That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” “What things?” Jesus asked.
These men did not recognize Jesus. I love how Jesus pretended that He was clueless to the crucifixion of the man named Jesus. They go on to tell Jesus all that had happened and told them that they had thought He was the Messiah.
They also told him the reports of the women who saw the temple empty and the angel who told them that Jesus had risen from the dead. Yet these men are still discouraged and leaving town sad. Jesus began to share with them Scripture of how the Messiah was going to to come and how He would suffer before entering glory.
Luke 24:28-34: By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”
These men finally recognized the Resurrected Savior. I love their response - ”Didn’t our hearts burn within us on the road as He shared Scripture to us?”
This is a verse I often use when sharing how we came up with the name Resonate for our church. When you encounter Jesus, it changes you and His life and His Word resonates in our hearts. It leaves a lasting impression on us that continues to transform us daily.
Jesus died so that we would know Him! If we are talking about Jesus as someone we know a story about, we are missing it. He wants us to abide in Him, to know His heart and His voice. When you know Him, you are willing to do anything for Him.
These men went back to town no longer fearing for their own lives, but to tell others that they had seen their resurrected Lord! When you know Jesus, you will do anything for Him. My family has given up a lot to move to Sioux Falls and plant this church because we love Jesus and we want others to know Him as well. I am not the same person I was before I met Jesus. The more I know Him, the crazier things I will do for Him!
III. The power of the cross
I just watched the Passion of the Christ this past week. It is still difficult to watch. I will never forget the first time I watched it. I was at a youth pastors' conference in Indianapolis. When we got to the point that Jesus breathed His last breath, you began to hear people weeping all over the dark room. People had came to a realization of what Jesus did for them on the cross. When I was watching it again this past week, I found myself wanting to get through the crucifixion part. I couldn’t take people mocking him and beating Him anymore. I didn’t want to watch Him suffer anymore. I was ready for the good part when He had risen from the dead. The only problem is that we don’t get to the resurrection without the crucifixion.
Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
The cross is what keeps us going in Him. He has always relentlessly pursued us and He has proven that He loves us because of His selfless sacrifice. He endured the cross because of us. We are the joy that was awaiting Him. We need to pursue Him with the same love with which He has pursued us. We do this by fixing our eyes on Him and seeking Him with everything in us.
We need to understand that we are walking in the finished work of the cross. There are many believers who are living a roller coaster life in Christ. Up and down. Sin is still dominating their lives, though Christ has freed us from the power of sin. They walk around like victims instead of people who are victorious. They let situations and circumstances dictate how their day goes instead of satisfaction in Christ. They are bound by fear, anxiety, and depression instead of walking in freedom.
John 8:31-32: Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
When we know Jesus, we know the truth of the finished work of the cross which sets us free! We should not be struggling with the same things we struggled with before we came to know Christ. If we are, we have not fully come to understand the power of the cross.
John 8:36: So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
The enemy is a deceiver and His goal His to keep us from walking in the freedom of Christ. I know many believers who are still bound in addiction, or controlled by fear and anxiety. There are people who fall apart when they begin to feel stress or pressure - when they begin to face challenging situations in life.
I know there are things that we never expect to face in life. Some of these things are gut-wrenching and can leave us speechless. We live in a fallen world and even as believers we're not immune to them. Jesus tells us in this world we are going to have troubles, but to take heart because He has overcome it!
Don’t let what you are going through define who you are. Let Him define who you are. We all have done things that we are not proud of in life. It doesn’t matter. Christ died for everyone. We are all worth dying for. Let this truth get deep in your heart.
Colossians 1:21-23: This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.
When you put your faith in Jesus, you receive the work or the cross for your life through completely surrendering to Him. We are holy and blameless in His presence without a single fault. This is a truth that must continue daily. The Word tells us the pure in heart will see God!
My desire is for every person to encounter Jesus in a real way. Maybe you have heard this Good News several times or maybe you are hearing it for the first time. Jesus has pursued you your whole life and is pursuing you right now. He wants you to know Him and He wants to transform your life.
Maybe you have tried following Jesus before and it didn’t work out for you. I run into people often who say the same thing, but all of them will say that hey have never surrendered everything or they weren’t all in. I like to use the example of someone trying to get fit or trying a diet to lose weight. It's only going to benefit you to the degree you put into it.
There are some who have been following Jesus for a long time and it has been a roller coaster for you. You may still be struggling with things. You desperately want to walk in freedom, but because you keep faltering you think there is no hope for freedom. You have allowed life experiences to become your truth instead of walking in the Truth that sets you free. God wants to breathe life into you today. The same power that resurrected Him from the grave is going to resurrect you right now!