Charles Stanley - The Impact of the Resurrection
Now, you heard the message of the resurrection of Jesus for years and years and years. You could quote some of the Scriptures. And you could tell me, standing by the graveside of one of your loved ones, that you could tell me what it meant to you. So, you've thought about it over the years. Let me ask you a question: what you know about the resurrection of Christ, how has it impacted your life in any way to change your thinking, your behavior, your conduct; as we would say, your conversation; what difference has it made?
When I think about the awesome message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, surely if you understand it, it has made some difference in your life: where you're going to spend eternity, how you treat one another, how you worship God, your own private devotions. What difference has it made that you have believed that Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, came into this world, lived it out, died on a cross, resurrected, sits at the Father's right hand; what difference has that made in your life? So, what I'd like to do is to just review, a few moments, those things that you say you believe. Our beliefs about the resurrection of Christ starts with the fact that Christ arose from the dead. He's alive at the Father's right hand.
Listen to what he says in Hebrews chapter ten verse twelve, "He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God". We believe that He was the all sufficient, one sacrifice for the sin of the whole world. A second thing we say we believe is this: that we're forgiven and eternally secure in Him. Many people don't believe that. There'll be many people today sitting in churches and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ who do not believe they're eternally secure. They believe that their conduct will determine whether they go to heaven or hell or not.
And imagine what kind of insecurity that is. You go to church, you sing these wonderful hymns, and then somebody says, "Are you going to heaven"? And you have to say, "I hope so. Maybe so. I think so. Sometimes I think I am and sometimes I think I'm not," the insecurity built into a person's life because they don't understand the Word of God. Then of course, the Scripture says, "Having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise who's given to us as a pledge of our inheritance". God says when you trusted Him as your Savior, you were sealed. Not sealed by our conduct, sealed by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
A third thing we say that we believe as a result of the resurrection is that we're going to live forever. He says, for example, that verse that most of us learned first in the Bible, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life". And isn't interesting how we can quote verses and say that we believe them, but when we divide them up and look at the words, we think, "Well, everlasting, well, I don't know about that".
Well, if it's not everlasting life, what is it? How long is it? You can't answer it. The Bible doesn't leave us with a lot of questions. The Bible answers all the questions that we have that are relevant for living a godly life and relevant for giving us assurance that we're going to heaven when we die. Then we say, for example, we believe that we're also going to experience a bodily resurrection. That's part of the message of the resurrection. And so, as we look at these verses over and over and over again, He said this body, "Is sown a perishable body, raised an imperishable body".
In First Corinthians fifteen. That fifteenth chapter's an awesome chapter about the resurrection. Many people spend a lot of time thinking about how they look: their hair, their dress, their shoes, their this, their that, and the other; and some men just as not... we're probably just as bad. There's coming a day when you won't have to worry about how you're dressed. Listen to this, "It is sown a perishable body, raised, imperishable," eternal, perfect. That's the promise of the resurrection.
Then somebody says, "Well, what about this idea of heaven? What's it going to be like"? Well, the Bible does not leave us without a whole lot of questions about that because if you read the book of the Revelation and some of the things that Jesus said in the Gospels, we know a little bit about what heaven's going to be like. But the most important thing is what He said in John fourteen, verse three. I'm going to, "Prepare a place for you, and I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also".
Now, listen to that. I'm going away to, "Prepare a place for you". He didn't say, "I'm just going away". And He didn't say, "I'm just going to go prepare a place". He said, "I'm going to prepare a place for you," that is, with God. It is the will and purpose and plan of God that every single one of us have relationship with Him that makes it possible for us to enter heaven sinless, holy, righteous before Almighty God, because that's the reason He came. And then he says, for example, also in the fourteenth chapter of John, He says heaven is our home. Listen, "I'm going to prepare a place for you. I'll come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also".
Now, think about this. Our relationship to Jesus Christ is intimate, warm, and personal. He loves us. He forgives us. He cleanses us. He forgives us over and over and over again because He knows we're not perfect. Can't be perfect in this life, but we can, by faith, be one of His children. We can, by faith, have eternal security. And all of these promises in the Scripture that we say we believe about the resurrection and the result of it, what kind of effect has that had on your life? Because all these things that you believe are true.
So, let me ask you the question: what difference do these truths make for you on Monday morning? Or Friday night? Or Sunday afternoon, or any time. The truth of God's Word should make an eternal difference in the way we live, the way we speak, what we wear, where we go, what we do with our life. Because He came into our life to make a change, make a difference. Not just some little difference, but eternal difference. So, if you had to say to some unbelieving friend of yours, "Let me tell you the difference that Jesus has made in my life," where would you begin? What would you say?
If you had to say to an unbeliever in response to that question, tell me now that if you're a Christian, what difference has it made in your life? The difference isn't visible. It's all about the Holy Spirit who brought about salvation in your life, and the Bible says sealed you as a child of God. That's who we are. And so, it certainly has made a difference in our life. And so, the question is what's the difference? Well, let me give you a few verses. You can think about them in your own life and ask yourself the question: has Christ in my life made this difference? And in First Peter chapter one verse fifteen, here's what he says, "Be holy yourselves in all your behavior".
Now, I don't think most Christians use the word holy except maybe holy day, or some people who believe in the Holy Sacrament, or holy this. What about being holy? Does that mean being sinless? No, it doesn't. Well, it says be holy. That must mean being sinless. No, or John would not have written, "If we confess our sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Is our goal to live a holy life? Yes. Is that a sinless life? No. But it is a life, listen carefully, it is a life committed to the person of Jesus Christ. It is a life indwelt by Jesus Christ. It is a life whose name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life in heaven. It is a life committed to Jesus. It is a life that attempts to live by the truths of the Word of God. Perfect, absolutely not, because we live in a human body. But he says our goal should be to live a holy life.
You say, "Well, if I told somebody I wanted to live a holy life, they'd just laugh at me". Let them laugh. Well, you say, "Well, what do I have to do to live a holy life"? What does a holy life mean? Does it mean sinless? No, but here's what it means: an absolutely genuine desire and heartfelt attempt to walk by the ways of our Lord, to be obedient to Him in every aspect in our life. That's what a holy life's all about. Not perfect. None of us are going to be perfect. But the desire of our heart is to live in keeping with the pattern of Jesus and what He requires of us: loving our neighbors, giving, sharing, sharing our testimony, and you can go all the way to the Scriptures, all the things He requires of us. Perfect? No. Holy, yes. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts".
A holy life, not a sinless life, but a godly life, a life committed to being obedient to God, following His ways in every way. That's a holy life. And I think most people have decided when they got saved, they can't be perfect. Nobody's perfect, and so we come up with this excuse. "Nobody's perfect, so you know, I'm just going to live life, and I go to church on Sunday and I give a little bit every once in a while and I try to love my neighbor and be kind and be good; but perfect, no". Well, what about attempting to be obedient to God? Holiness is God's goal for every single one of us.
Then I think, for example, what is your message as a believer? For example, if somebody said to you, "Tell me what you believe," what would you say? Now, think about this for a moment, you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior. That is, you have put your whole eternal future in His hands. You have accepted what He said as truth and you have asked Him to forgive you of your sins. You trusted Him as your personal Savior originally when you were saved. And so, you've settled that issue in your life.
And so, if somebody said, "Well, tell me what is your message as a Christian"? What would you say? What's your message as a Christian? What do you have to say? So, remember this. You don't have to think this up. Somebody says, "Well, I hear these people talking about giving a testimony. I can't give a testimony". Going to teach you how right quick. Here's how to give a testimony. You say to that person, "Here's my testimony. For God so loved me that He gave His only begotten Son, that if I trusted Him as my personal Savior, I would have the gift of eternal life, and I have it. I have it. Not because I'm good, not because I deserve it, but because He promised it and I believe Him".
In other words, what you and I, think about this, all the things that you and I believe about the resurrection of Jesus Christ should absolutely transform our life. We should, each one of us, be a beacon to the people around us that we work with and live with, a beacon of the truth of Almighty God. They should hear it from our lips. They should see it in our walk. They should see it in our conduct, our conversation. They should see something that they cannot quite figure out what it is. And you have the awesome privilege of telling them. So, listen to this question that ought to be very convicting. Are you listening? Say amen.
When is the last time you said to anybody, "Let me tell you how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Let me tell you how to be saved. Let me tell you how you can be sure when you die you're going to heaven". Whom have you ever told how to have what you already have? The blessings of eternal life, the goodness and mercy and kindness of Almighty God, year after year after year after year after year, and never tell anybody else the source of your joy, of your assurance, your confidence that one of these days when you die, you're going to heaven. How can we keep it to ourselves? Can you imagine how loud the disciples shouted when they knew Jesus Christ not only rose from the dead, but when He ascended?
Do you think they just stood there and said, "Mmm-mm". No they didn't. They were shouting all over the place. Because what He did in that ascension affirmed everything He ever taught them. Watch this, you and I have the Word of God. It's true from cover to cover. We have written authentic promises of Almighty God. We've not seen Him ascend to heaven, but we've seen this awesome truth about Him. And we've seen His commands and we've seen all these verses of Scripture that's told us about Him. We have this awesome foundation. You have the truth in your heart. You have within you what it takes to move a person from walking on this earth to going to heaven. You have it within you as a follower of Jesus. You cannot afford to keep it to yourself.
He said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel". You say, "Well, we send missionaries". Mm-mm-mm. I can't send somebody and take the place of talking to somebody that I live next door to or work with. We have a divine obligation to tell it like it is, everybody we can. Then we have this wonderful opportunity of serving Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. And so, somebody says, "Well, I don't know exactly what to say". Listen carefully, when you were saved, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, came to indwell you.
And the Bible says He sealed you as a child of God. That seal cannot be broken. That your security is not in your conduct. Your security is in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. He not only has sealed us as a child of God, He has empowered us. That is, He has equipped you to do whatever God has called you to do. And when He said, "Go into all the world to teach and preach the Word of God," that does not mean that all of us have to go to some other country, but that we are to share the truth of the gospel with the people around us.
And we, listen to this, you have the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit of God, who, first of all, convicted you of your sin, showed you the truth, gave you the faith, enabled you to be saved, and then indwelled you and will indwell you all the way to glory, in order to do what? To equip you, to give you the courage and the confidence and the assurance and the strength and the energy and the power to share the truth of God's Word to other people. You are equipped. God placed His Son Jesus in your life, and you live every day and you don't tell anybody.
You say, "Well, I came to hear a pleasant message about the resurrection this morning". It's pleasant to those of us who are obedient, to those who are not, it shouldn't be pleasant. It should be because I love you enough to tell you the truth. And God loves you. And He wants you to be everything He created you to be. When I think about the truths that we know, and when I think about the fact that He's given us the Holy Spirit to equip us, every day you wake up with Him, you go to bed with Him, you live your life out every day with the awesome power of the Holy Spirit. That is the third person of the Trinity: God the Father, Son, the Holy Spirit.
Listen, you're never alone when you've trusted Jesus as your Savior, never alone. So, you have a Friend who's with you all the time. And the question is this: what kind of friendship do you have with Him? Now, if you're married, I certainly hope you're happily married. And if you are, you know how wonderful it can be to have a good relationship with somebody who loves you unconditionally, and you love them in return.
Well, Jesus came to live within us through the Holy Spirit, to give us that awesome sense of fullness, completeness. We may live alone, but we don't have to be lonely because we always have Him. And we have a message that the world desperately needs to hear. And when I think about how often we talk about many other things, I think about the presence of the Holy Spirit. And the fact that you and I have the privilege of praying and changing anything, we can pray to Almighty God with the power, the confidence, and assurance that changes anything and everything that fits His will for our life.
So, I think on this resurrection day that we celebrate, this is a good time to examine our hearts to think, "God, I've sure enjoyed a lot. I'm blessed. Now Lord, what do You expect of me"? I'll tell you what He expects. He expects you to give yourself away to Him by giving yourself away to others in sharing the best news the world has ever heard. That's what He expects. Isn't it amazing how the devil has put fear in people's lives about talking about Jesus when He is the most important person who has ever existed, who loves you absolutely unconditionally, who has blessed you beyond your description.
And all He's asking of you is, tell him, tell her, share it with them, don't wait any longer. Just tell them. You know somebody who needs to be saved. And let me just say this: if you care about them, you will tell them. You say, but suppose they don't listen? That's not your responsibility. Suppose they don't want to hear it? That's not your responsibility. Our responsibility is to tell it. Their responsibility is to make a choice. You have the truth, it's not to be kept, but to be shared.
My prayer to God is that you will. And you may be seated here this morning, you've never trusted Christ as your Savior, you know a lot of Christians. Nobody's ever said much to you, and you came alone today. Or you may have come invited by somebody else. And today you know in your heart, this is the moment in time when your eternal future will change. Do not walk out of this place without having made a decision. You say, "Well, what decision is that"? It's this simple: with all the sincerity of your heart,
God, I'm a sinner. Lord, I'm asking You to forgive me of my sin. I don't deserve it, but I'm asking You to forgive me. And today, in this place, seated right here, I'm surrendering my life to You. And I'm trusting You to be for me what I can't be for myself. I don't think I can live the life, but I'm surrendering my life to You right now, Lord, and I'm going to trust You to help me understand and live it out.
He'll change your life in the next few moments. Amen?
Father, we love You and praise You. Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for writing our name in the Lamb's Book of Life, never to be erased. Thank You for giving us the courage to share with those about us who are yet to be saved. Make us so uncomfortable, dear God, we cannot live among, live around precious people who need Your message any longer, without telling them. And Father, I pray that every single person here who has never trusted Christ, right now in these moments, will say: "Lord, forgive me of my sin. Today I surrender my life to You, to live for you forever". Thank You, Father, for Your awesome power to love, forgive, and change, in Jesus's name. Amen.