Charles Stanley - Your Conviction About the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Do you really and truly believe that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, sealed in a tomb and that somehow He arose? Do you really believe that? Some people do, some people don't. So, do you have any convictions about that? Sometimes a person says, "Do I have to believe that Jesus Christ rose from the grave in order to be saved"? And the answer is, "Yes". And Paul wanted to make that crystal-clear when he wrote in this tenth chapter of Romans. Listen to what He said, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you'll be saved".
Now listen to what He said, "If you confess," confess means that you agree with Him about something. "If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord," what does that mean? That means that you believe He's who He said He was. He's the Son of God, a person of the Trinity. He is God who came in the form of a babe in Bethlehem; born of a virgin; grew up; walked among men in order to die on the cross to pay our sin debt in full. Do you believe that is true? "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead". Well, do you have to believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead? Yes! And you know why? If He didn't raise Him from the dead, who is He except some other man?
There are a lot of people who got crucified. But He makes it crystal-clear that every believer should have a strong conviction about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "If you confess it with your mouth, believe it in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved". So there's no question as far as the scripture's concerned whether it's important or not. Now Paul was writing to the Corinthians who were considered the most immoral people on the earth that they knew in those days. And to live in Corinth was to be "Corinthinized," very, very immoral unbelievers, ungodly people. And so, when he wrote First Corinthians to them, he was writing to them to be sure that they understood the truth and he wanted to give them evidence that Jesus Christ was the Living Lord.
I want you to turn, if you will, to the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians because here Paul makes his stand about the resurrection of Christ. And he lays it out very firmly and very clearly so that you have to make a decision. Either I believe it or I don't. If I don't believe it, I'm not saved. If I do believe it, confess it with my mouth, believe it in my heart, then I'm saved. So listen to what Paul says beginning in verse twelve, "Now if Christ," watch this, there are seven "ifs" in these few verses. "Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised".
Now, he says in verse fourteen, "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain". Look at this, He says, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is vain". In other words, what are we doing sitting here? Why a church? Why anybody talking about Jesus? If, listen, if Jesus was a dead man, crucified, and disappeared somehow and is not who He says He was, what's all this about? And think about the disciples who went around talking about it. And think about the price they paid. Some of them were crucified. They lost their lives. You don't lose your life over something you don't believe in. They were crucified and all kind of things happened to them. Because they believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they had seen Him afterwards. They saw the nail print in His hand. There was absolutely no way to convince and persuade them that Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead. He says, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain". And not only that, but he says, "Your faith is in vain".
Think about the things that you believe. You don't believe that Jesus rose from the grave? Now what else in the Bible do you not believe? Well what do you, do you believe anything about it? He says our faith is vain. That means it's empty. It has no impact and no meaning in our life if we don't believe Jesus rose from the grave. Now, he's writing to Corinthians, this is part of the church, but many people who were unbelievers, "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain". Suppose you woke up tomorrow morning and you did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. You don't believe in the resurrection? Then let me ask you a question. What's motivating your life? What are you assured of? What confidence can you have? You have to admit that one of these days you're going to die. Some of your friends have already died and maybe your parents are dead. What do you have to hold onto?
You say, "Well, I guess when my time comes I'll just disappear". No, no, no, no, no. You won't disappear. They'll probably put you in a very expensive casket there'll be flowers and your friends showed up. But I'll tell you this. There'll be a death feeling at your funeral if you die without Christ. I've been to enough funerals. And I used to live, in Miami when I was pastor there, close to a funeral home. And a lot of times people would die and they didn't have a pastor. In fact, I remember one time this lady passed away. She must have been wealthy. The only person for her ceremony, which I preached, was her attorney sitting in the back as far as he could be. So I thought, "Well, I got one sheep to preach at. I'm going to give him the whole load". And I don't want him to die without knowing Jesus. But I can tell you this. When you go to either a funeral with your friends who've passed away, you're rejoicing in the Lord and look at the body and so forth, if they're not saved, there's something different going on.
That's a horrible moment when somebody dies without Jesus. Because the question is, "What then"? You don't disappear. Somebody says, "Well I'll just become ashes". No, you won't. Your body may become ashes, but you are going to be somewhere. Somewhere. Not one verse in the Bible or even reason says. "You just disappear". And God has the most awesome power to resurrect His children. So listen to what he says, "Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, when He had not raised Him," and in fact, he says, "the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised".
So, if we don't believe in the resurrection at all, then if we don't believe that Jesus Christ was raised and what hope do we have of being raised? So he says, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless and you're still in your sins". Think about this: you don't believe that Jesus Christ rose from the grave, is seated at the Father's right hand, and has heard your confession of sins, your surrender of your life to Him, if you don't believe that, then here you come along in life and everything is going really well and you have plenty and you've got friends and all this, and then all of a sudden you have something that's going to take your life. You have everything that money can buy. You have relationships that you are very, very proud of, but you don't have Jesus.
Listen to me carefully, no matter what someone has told you, if you die without Christ, you will be eternally separated from Him forever and ever and ever. The Bible says that Jesus came into this world for the purpose of laying down His life on the cross. Watch this, He shed His blood for you and me. That means the death of Jesus paid for our salvation, because our works would never be sufficient, and the reason you sit here, and the reason you sit there as a child of God is because two thousand years ago or so, Jesus went to the cross, paid the sin debt of the world in the giving of His body. And that awesome truth of the crucified, resurrected Christ has been declared, shouted, proclaimed for centuries; the same solid truth.
And the fact that Jesus Christ loves you and me enough to walk with us every day through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we are the loved of God. Loved enough to be indwelt by His Spirit, so until the day He calls us home, living on the inside of us. And so Paul is saying to these Corinthians, "If Christ had not been raised, if Christ had not been raised, and then your faith is worthless, and you are still in your sins". Do you remember how you felt when you were living outside of the will of God; when you were living in sin? And do you remember what happened when you got saved, how free you felt? You knew something awesome had transpired in your life. But if you don't have that promise.
And you know, thinking about funerals, for example, I remember the first one I ever participated in as a pastor. I was in my first church and it was up in the mountains and this lady and her husband lived up in the mountain, away from the village where I was pastor. He wouldn't have anything to do with the church; anything to do with God; no place. In fact, he sort of threatened people who would come to see him and you had to walk almost a mile to his house. And he died. And so we had the service at the church. And I'll never forget this as long as I live. And I remember the most, I don't know how to say, overwhelming expression of despair I ever felt. She was so much in despair; nothing spiritual going on in the life; she reached over in the casket and grabbed him, and they had to pull her away from him screaming in the church; screaming, screaming, screaming, "You can't leave. You can't leave me. I'll be alone. You can't leave me. I'll be alone".
And that was my first funeral and I hoped it would be the last one like that. And she was going back up that road, up on that mountain by herself to live. He wasn't going to be there because he was gone. And she had no hope she'd ever see him. But do you know what wonderful thing happened? She got saved. And I remember not too much about it, but I remember she got saved. Then when she got saved, she really got saved. She was just all over herself with thanksgiving to God forgiving her of her sin and not leaving her alone. And she didn't have to live alone any longer. And on and on, she just gave public testimony to everybody.
Watch this, you're either saved or you're lost. It's a choice you make. And what Paul is saying seven times he says "if". If these things are true, these things are true, this is what's going to happen. And the reason he said it over and over and over again in a different way is to impress upon their heart: if you don't have Christ you have no hope, none. Believing in the resurrection of Jesus is essential to your salvation. Listen to what Paul said, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead..." That means you believe He's who He said He was. He died for the reason He said He died. He paid our price in full, and therefore we become the children of God as a result of the crucified risen Christ.
If there's anything you should have a conviction about, it is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for your sins, rose again, declared it in many ways, and that you and I have absolute confidence of what Paul said, "Absent from the body," he said, "present with the Lord". And so, listen to this verse, "Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished". If there's no resurrection. And he followed that by saying, "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied". If only, the only hope you have in life is this life, he says you're to be pitied, because there is another life. The important thing is all of us are going to die and we're going somewhere. There are only two places. With the Father or with the devil.
People say, "I don't believe in the devil". Jesus did. The Bible does. People will give all kind of reasons for not surrendering their life to the Son of God. The only other alternative is to die without Him and to pay the debt of your sins. Watch this: the reason Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood, His dying, His blood, His death was payment for your sin and mine; payment for the sin of the world. So, the reason you and I have any hope and any assurance is our sins have been paid for. If you reject the payment, watch this, if you reject the payment for your sin, you are indebted to Almighty God, for your sins. In other words, if you don't accept His death as payment for your sin, what are you going to tell God when you stand before Him and all the sin in your life is before you? Hopeless. See, He's made it simple.
So, I want to ask you a question: do you really believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins? Paid your sin debt in full. Do you believe that? Do you believe that He rose from the grave? Do you believe that one day you'll stand before Him and give an account for your life? Then what are you doing about it? Have you ever trusted Him as your Savior? I didn't say, "Have you been to church and enjoyed a lot of things," but have you ever said what Paul said, "Confess with your mouth Jesus Christ, yes, He's the Lord; believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead"? "I believe He raised Him from the dead and I surrender my life to Him".
Have you ever done that? Then let me ask you a question: what are you going to base your acceptance by God on when you die? If you eliminate Jesus from the equation you don't have anything. So listen to what Paul said. He says, "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are all men and women most to be pitied". And then he changes the subject. He says, verse twenty, "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep". Which means, He was the first and all the rest will follow thereafter.
You know, a few years ago, one of my friends called me and he said, I want you to come up to see me. He lived in North Carolina and I said, "Well, I appreciate that but why do you want me to come"? He said, "Well I don't, I just want you to come see me". Well, he'd been kind to me and so I said, "Okay". And so, I went to see him and he said, "Tomorrow, I'm going to take you somewhere". But he didn't tell me where. I thought, "Wonder what this is about"?
Next morning, we took off. Where we stopped was in Dry Fork, Virginia, where I was born. And when we got there, saw the church and cemetery and so forth; nothing else there. I thought, "What's this"? He said, "Well". We got out and walked around a few minutes and just talked. And my grandfather had started that church many years ago. And I said, "Well, okay". He said, "Well I'm going to leave you but I'll be back shortly". So, he left me in the church lot by myself. I thought, "What is this"? You know? But he knew what he was doing. I walked over and on the edge of the parking lot where the cemetery is, I walked up on the first two stones. The first one said, "Charles Frazier Stanley". And the other was, "Rebecca," my mother. And then I thought about, "I'll never see my dad or I'll never know what he was like".
So, for a few moments I felt the hopelessness, emptiness, futility, but not long. I said, "Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, dear God, they're not there. They're with You and one day I'll see them again, both of them". Do you have some friend or loved one who's passed on and you walk up to the cemetery lot? Do you have assurance, question, doubt, fears? I can't imagine loving someone with all my heart and have them pass away and know that I would never, never, never see them again. But if you die without Christ, you'll leave some folks behind, they'll never see you again.
When Paul said, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you'll be saved". One of these days He's going to call you home to give an account. "It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment". I just simply want to ask you: are you ready? Are you saved? Can you point at some time in your life and say, "Yes, I trusted Jesus as my Savior,"? Or would you have to say, "I've heard a lot about it. I've been encouraged. I haven't had time; never thought much about that".
One of these days you're going to breathe your last breath. What are you going to leave behind? Loving children who loved you, but that you'll never see again? Or a husband or a wife, a friend? Are you going to be wise enough to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins because you believe that His death on the cross paid for your sins? And are you wise enough to ask Him to forgive you and to cleanse you and tell Him that you're surrendering your life to Him right now. And you're believing what He said, "For by grace are you saved through faith; that not of yourself, it's a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast". Do you believe, "Absent from the body, present with the Lord"? Absent from the body, not in the grave, absent from body, no. "Absent from the body, present with the Lord".
If you've never done that, never asked Jesus to save you, I want to pray a simple prayer that God will answer. And you can pray it whether you're sitting right here or whether you're at home, or driving your car, wherever you are. You can pray this prayer. If you want God to give you the gift of eternal life, if you want to be sure what's going to happen when you die, if you want to be ready; if you want to leave your loved ones the legacy of a godly man, a godly woman; you want to leave them the assurance that when they put your casket in the grave, you are not there, and they're going to see you again.
If you want to leave them that kind of legacy, bow your head with me and pray this prayer. "Heavenly Father, I confess that I'm a sinner. I'm ashamed of my sins. I'm asking You to forgive me of my sins. Lord, not because I deserve it, but because You said You'd forgive me. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and I believe that He can be my Savior. I'm asking You to forgive me, and today, at this moment I surrender my life to Jesus Christ, the living Lord, and trust Him for my salvation. In Jesus' name, amen".
If you prayed that simple prayer, let me tell you what just happened. Your sins are forgiven, your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, the Holy Spirit just sealed you as a child of God. You say, "Well I didn't feel all that". Naturally, you didn't, but you know what'll happen. When you walk out of here, the longer you walk out in it, you're going to start feeling something. Freed and liberated from the weight of your sin. Now you're a child of God.