Charles Stanley - The Message of the Resurrection
When we began the ministry in Russia, I wanted to be sure to go there and be sure we started it right and made all the preparation necessary. And one of the things I wanted to do was to go to Red Square and visit Lenin's tomb because I had been there about thirty years before, and the lines were so long, they said it would be about a two-hour wait before I could get in, so I walked away and thought, "Well, maybe one of these days". This time there were no lines. I walked in between a number of guards and there was a sign that said "No Talking".
I stood there gazing upon the lifeless corpse of a man, encased air-tight in a glass covering, and stood there for a few moments and felt the despair, the gloom, and thought to myself: here lies the lifeless corpse of a man who did not believe in God, who caused a bloody revolution, who put his whole nation in bondage, who caused bloodshed and death all across the world, and who left his followers with a shattered dream. And worse than that, he left them with absolutely no hope of life beyond this one. I walked out of that place and stood there and turned around and thought for a few moments about another tomb I'd been in. This one, the crowds were still there, and I waited till everyone was gone late that afternoon, and I walked into this tomb, not to look for a lifeless corpse because I knew He wasn't there. I knew that I was walking into a tomb that was absolutely empty, and that's why I'd come. I thought to myself: what a difference in these two tombs, one of them is still filled and having to be guarded, a lifeless corpse.
The other one is pure stone, nobody, no guards, no signs to keep me quiet. What an awesome difference in these two tombs, in these two men. One of them is the message of gloom and despair and failure. The other is the message of hope and assurance and absolute eternal success. Which message had you rather hear? Which message had you rather believe? For me, I'll choose the message from the second tomb, the one in Jerusalem, the tomb of the Son of God. And I want you to turn, if you will, to Luke chapter twenty-four, and let's read what happened, how He got placed there, and how He didn't stay there very long at all.
Twenty-fourth chapter of Luke, first verse, "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, and when they had entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.' And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest".
My friend, the best news the world could possibly hear is found in verse six. He is not here, but He has risen. This is the greatest news the world has ever heard because, you see, if that were not true, you and I would have absolutely no hope and assurance of life after this one. What I'd like to do in this message is simply explain to you what is the real message of the resurrection? It isn't simply the fact that Jesus died on the cross and somebody placed Him in their tomb and sealed it up and Romans that were there to guard it, and simply the fact that the rock, the stone was rolled away and suddenly His body was not there. That is the event. These are the things that took place. But what is the message of the resurrection?
So whether you're a believer or not, I want you to listen carefully. The first thing that I understand about the message of the resurrection is this: that our Christ, Jesus Christ the Son of God who is our Savior and our Lord and our master, the Son of God is alive. He is not dead. You'll recall that He told His disciples in that sixteenth chapter of Matthew, one of the first times He began to explain to them about the fact that He was going to have to die, here's what He said to them. "From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day". And you'll recall that was so obnoxious to them that Peter rebuked Him.
And then also in the seventeenth chapter following the Mount of Transfiguration experience, the scripture says in verse twenty-two, "And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.' And they were deeply grieved". So, what you find is all through the Gospels, you find one reference after the other of Jesus telling His disciples, "I'm going to have to die, but I'm not going to stay dead, I'm going to rise from the dead". And that is exactly what happened because on that morning when they came to prepare for His body, or to add the spices, they didn't think it was probably done because it was done so quickly, He wasn't there.
And my friend, the world needs to hear the truth, that the God whom you and I serve, the living God, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is not buried in a tomb. He is not here, it is His absence, not His presence but His absence that causes us to rejoice. Now somebody says, "Well, then where is He? Where is He if He's not there"? I'll tell you where He is, the Bible's very clear about where He is. So, if you'll turn to Hebrews chapter ten for a moment. Let's look at this passage, Hebrews chapter ten. The Bible tells us everything you and I need to know. And so somebody says, "Well, where is the Lord Jesus Christ? Where is the Son of God? If He rose from the dead, then where is He"? And the scripture says in chapter ten of Hebrews verse twelve, "But He, having suffered one sacrifice," that is His life, "for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God".
Our resurrected Christ is seated at the Father's right hand. That's where He is. And what is He doing? Well, the scripture tells us exactly what He's doing because it tells us in the seventh chapter of Hebrews, verse twenty-five, "Hence also He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us". Where is He? He's at the Father's right hand. What is He doing? Making intercession for us. Well, what is He doing besides interceding and sitting as our advocate? The Bible says in chapter fourteen of John, if you want to turn there for a moment. Here's something else He's doing. He said to His disciples in this fourteenth chapter, "Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I'm coming again, to receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also".
What is He doing? Seated at the Father's right hand, interceding for us, acting as our advocate, like our attorney before the Father. And at the same time, He is preparing Heaven for us and He is doing that until He is finished, and the next thing, or the last thing I would say is simply this, and that is He's waiting for the Father's plan to be complete and then He's coming back for all of us who are His children. So where is He? Seated at the Father's right hand. But there's another place that He is, and that is He is not only seated at the Father's right hand, but He is living on the inside of every single child of God in the presence of the Holy Spirit who sealed us and indwelt us the moment we received Him as our Savior.
Turn to the fifteenth chapter of John to the most graphic picture that Jesus could possibly have painted for us and painted for His disciples to remind us forever that He is with us, and also to tell us and to explain to us the intimate relationship that He has with every single one of His children. You'll recall that He says in this first verse of John fifteen, "I am the true vine, My Father is the vinedresser. He's the one who takes care of Him. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bring forth more fruit. You are already clean because of the words which I have spoken to you".
Now watch verse four and five. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you," that is bear fruit, "unless you abide in Me". Watch this, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who is abiding in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing". What is He saying? Simply this. Lord Jesus Christ who is the risen Lord, one of the first message, the basic bottom line message of the resurrection is this: that Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God is alive, seated at the Father's right hand, making intercession for us, serving as our advocate, preparing heaven for us, and at the same time living on the inside of every single one of those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. We can say in the very beginning, the message of the resurrection is: our Christ is indeed very much alive and eternally alive.
The second message of the resurrection is this: that our sins have been forgiven and we are absolutely eternally secure in Him. If you'll recall, He says He came to give His life a ransom for many. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. Look, if you will, in Ephesians chapter one. Ephesians chapter one, beginning in this very first chapter, Paul talks about how we have been chosen in Christ. And then he says in verse seven, "In Him," that is in Christ Jesus, "we have redemption," that is His death purchased our salvation, "through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace".
You'll recall also in First Peter, chapter one, when he is describing what Jesus has done for us, here's what he says in First Peter chapter one, and beginning in verse eighteen, "Knowing that you and I were not redeemed," or saved, "with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ". What is the message of the resurrection? Message of the resurrection is that our sins have been forgiven. The message of the resurrection is that you and I are eternally secure in Him. But is that all the message of the resurrection? No, it's not, because we, too, are going to experience a bodily resurrection.
So, I want you to turn to First Corinthians fifteen. Let's look at this for a moment, and I want us to look at these verses. First Corinthians fifteen. Jesus called this resurrection a resurrection unto life. And so in this fifteenth chapter, he gives us some things here that I want us to notice. We also are going to experience a bodily resurrection. Now, when is that going to happen? Here's what he tells us in verse twenty-three of chapter fifteen. He says, "But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming". Here's what he's saying. The first person to be resurrected from the dead and to live forever is the Lord Jesus Christ. Those whom Jesus Christ raised from the dead in His day died. So they died. But Jesus Christ is the one who raised from the dead and lives forever.
And so, the message here is this. That all of us who are His children, we too are going to have a bodily resurrection. With all that in mind, this takes on a little different meaning now. John chapter six. What did we read? He said in verse thirty-seven, that He says, "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me, I," listen to this now, He says I, "lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day". He said I lose nothing. He says in a twinkling of an eye, these bodies are going to be resurrected, listen, fashioned like unto the body of the Son of God. His body was absolutely, totally glorified.
When you and I, listen, when we leave this earth and this body leaves this earth, these bodies are going to leave this earth perfectly transformed, absolutely in the glory of the Son of God Himself. That's the message of the resurrection. Man, listen, He says I'm not going to lose anything but raise it up on the last day. This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son, believes in Him, may have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day. He's speaking of the body, because we'll already be with Him. Raise him up on the last day. Raise up these bodies of ours. Not going to lose anything. Bodies will be transformed just like He said.
What's the message of the resurrection? Every single one of us who knows Christ as our Savior, we too are going to experience a resurrection. Now, not only that, but heaven is going to be our eternal home. The message of the resurrection is that heaven is our home. Because Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I'm coming again to receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also". Now, if we had time, we could talk a lot of things about what the Bible says about heaven. But you see, the most important thing about heaven is not what the streets are made of and whether they're going to be castles, or whether they're going to be something else. That's not even the issue. The issue's this. The issue is that God's there. The throne of God's there. Jesus is there. The issue is that we're going to be there.
We're, listen, we're going to be serving Him, worshipping Him, praising Him, living with Him and living with our loved, listen, all that Almighty God has provided for us, listen, you and I can believe it because Christ rose from the dead, which validates everything He said. If He had not risen from the dead, we'd say, "Well, you know, other people have made all kind of promises, and we can look in their Bibles and see all of these things, but how do we know"? Listen, the fact that He rose from the dead, listen, that's proof. Listen, because that's the final test. That is the ultimate proof that He's the Son of God, the ultimate proof that He's divine, the ultimate proof of His promises to be true. And He says that He's provided a heaven for us, and that's where every single person whose name is written in the Lamb's book of life is going to spend eternity.
But I want to tell you something else about the resurrection, a wonderful, wonderful truth about the resurrection, and that's this: that you and I, listen, we have the promise that we're going to meet our loved ones there. And we're going to know them. Where do you get that? Well, in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, for example, he says we're going to know even as we are known. When he said in First Thessalonians, that when Jesus Christ comes, we're, listen, He's bringing those who have passed on before, our loved ones, with Him. Then we too shall be caught up together. And he says, "To meet them in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord". He didn't have to say that.
Now, why would He have said we're going to meet them in the air if we weren't going to know them? And the truth is, it wouldn't be heaven if there were all faceless creatures. We're going to know each other. We're going to have some kind of relationship that I don't think anybody can fully understand. But it will be a wonderful relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We'll have an absolute perfect relationship with one another. That relationship is going to be to such a degree of intimacy and such a degree of pure holiness, that you and I couldn't possibly understand on this earth, contained in these physical bodies with our emotions and our sinfulness, how you could relate to someone so absolutely in such a heavenly fashion. But that is exactly what's going to happen. We're going to know each other. We shall know even as we are known. And we absolutely shall be no doubt and unquestionably perfectly known in heaven.
Well, there's just one other message of the resurrection I want to share, and that's this. When I look at this chapter and I see the events that took place and all about the tomb and all of these things and the spices and all the rest, and this is where people get hung up usually. That's not the message of the resurrection. That's the event of the resurrection. The message of it is this. The message of the resurrection is because Jesus Christ rose from the dead and is living on the inside of every single one of us who is His children, we can face all the tomorrows with confidence and assurance and perfect peace, that no matter what we have to face, we will be victorious. We will, because this earth is full of strife and stress and strains and violence and harm and hurt and shame.
And because it is full of sorrow and pain, and because our valleys are oftentimes very long and very deep, and because our pathway oftentimes is full of pain and hurt and disappointments and discouragements. The message of the resurrection is this: you and I don't walk through a single valley. We don't walk through along any pathway of life, no matter how hurtful and how painful, without the presence of the Son of God to enable us, strengthen us, help us, guard us, guide us, empower us, and cheer us on our way. That this life is not what it's all about. This is just part of the journey.
And at some point out there, when this journey is ended, the Son of God who rose from the dead, who made us all these wondrous promises, is going to be standing there waiting for us to fulfill His last awesome promise. "I will come again to receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also". He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me". If you're willing to pray a simple prayer and mean it with all of your heart, your eternal destiny can be changed in less than sixty seconds. Your name will be written in the Lamb's book of life within the next minute. And if that's what you want, would you pray this prayer to Almighty God?
Heavenly Father, I do believe the testimony of scripture, that Jesus Christ is your eternal Son. I believe He went to the cross and died for my sins. I confess to You that I'm a sinner. I need Your forgiveness. I'm asking You to save me. I'm trusting You to do it right now. I accept the forgiveness of my sins. I accept Your gift of salvation. I accept You as my personal Savior, in Jesus's name, amen.
If you've prayed that prayer, your name is written, never to be erased in the Lamb's book of life, and God has a place for you in heaven.