Chris Hodges - Is He Worthy?
Father, I pray that you bless this moment, as we open up the Word of God, and I pray, Lord, that people see truth in Scripture like they've never seen it before. And I pray Lord God, that wherever everyone is, that in their homes, or cars, or wherever they are today, God, that you would touch them right there in this moment. Lord, we know that you are not restricted to church buildings. You don't need this room to make a difference in someone's life. Father, we pray, Lord, that you touch people by the power of your Spirit now. In Jesus's name, amen, amen.
If you're standing, go ahead and take a seat. Maybe grab your Bible, and a notepad, and a pen or something like that, or get your phone out, and you can take some notes. I'm excited to share this with you. And before I get started, let me just look into the camera. I normally would do this on a Sunday with people in this room, but I'm so used to actually looking into the camera and knowing there are a lot more people on the other side of the camera than in this room. So, today, with no one in the room, let me just look into that camera and say hello to all of our church members. I think of you every single day, and I love you so much, and I miss you dearly, and I would do anything for this thing to be over so that we could gather again. But thank God for the miracle of technology and cameras and internet, so that we can bring the gospel outside the walls of a church.
And so God bless you today. And for those of you that are joining us from another church, we're so glad that you're along for the ride today. I want to look into the camera and say hello to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections. We're not able to physically go into these facilities right now because of the coronavirus, but we have brought this message to you on flash drives and CDs and DVDs, and so we're getting it to you in the ways that the Department of Corrections allows. I want to thank the Alabama Department of Corrections for allowing us to do it. We love you. We miss you. We'll be with you soon, as well. And so I have to tell you I'm still trying to get used to being in this room without anybody here. And when you say something funny or say something that really is a good amen moment, and it's just crickets, you know? It's just dead silent.
So, I've come up with a solution. So, I had my team put together... I have a little iPod, and it allows me that when I don't hear what I want to hear, like if I don't hear an amen, or laughter, or clapping, so I can queue it right here. So, I'll let you see. So, normally, right here on the front row at Grants Mill second service is a guy named Jason Long. He sits in the same spot every week. "And come on, PC. Come on now. Preach it". So, here's my Jason. You ready for it? Here it goes. So, when I need to hear that, I'm just gonna... So, I've got that. And so, of course, you know, there are people who kind of do it in the old style. "Come on now, preach it, good". But then you've got your millennials, you know, and they're a little bit more reserved, so here's my millennial amen.
Here's how it goes. Here it goes. I know you're laughing. In fact, here's your laugh. Yeah, so I give you the millennial one again. The millennial one goes like this. That's how the millennials do it. And so I know you're laughing. So, there you go. And then sometimes you say some things, and you just want to, like, "Come on, everybody, put your hands together and give God some praise". Yeah, there you go. Or you can really go really old school and really, you know, like, gospel. I grew up in a predominantly African American church. You might not have known that. And here's what I'm used to hearing, actually, sometimes in a service. Yeah. So anyway, I have all those available to me when I feel like I need it. So, I'm just letting you know that. So, I hope you think that is as funny as I do.
Again... so there you go. I won't do that the whole service, I promise. I do want to tell you a Boudreaux joke. I've had many people say, "Hey, tell us a Boudreaux joke. We need some laughter". You know, the Bible says, "A merry heart is like good medicine". And today, I actually want to talk about the end times, so I think this Boudreaux joke will actually fit into that, because Pastor Boudreaux and Pastor Thibodeaux, they were, you know, associate pastors at this church down in Louisiana, and they put up a sign in the front yard of the church that said, "The end is near. Turn yourself around before it's too late".
And right as they were kind of hitting the sign into the yard of the church, this guy drove by and rolled down his window and said, "Man, you bunch of religious nuts," and then just rolled it back up and took off. And when he rounded the corner, they heard a screeching of the tires and splash like this car hitting water. And Pastor Boudreaux and Thibodeaux looked at each other, and they said, "Man, should we just put on the sign, 'Bridge is out'"? So that is funny. I don't care what you say. I do want to talk about the end times. I know that's strange. I know you think, "Well, my goodness, you're kind of going into the deep end of the pool with this Easter message," but I do want to talk about the end times, and here's why: one of the conversations that I hear regularly, and one of the things that people are most concerned about with the coronavirus is the uncertainty of it all.
So, they're in the middle of this, not knowing what's gonna happen. And I've had people say, "Man, are we in the end of time? Is this the tribulation? Is this the fourth horseman of the apocalypse, the pale horse of plague? Is this it"? And I would just want you to know you don't have to be uncertain. We're Christians. Thirty percent of your Bible is prophecy. I don't know if you knew that or not. Because why? Because God always wanted you to know how things are gonna happen, how they're gonna play out. And you do not have to be uncertain, and I'm gonna make sure you're not today. And so normally what would happen in our Easter service, if you've been around Highlands for very long, we normally have a survey. So, there's questions you answer. And we're gonna do a hybrid of that today.
So, I'm gonna give you three questions today, and kind of a survey, and I'm gonna answer the first two. I'm gonna let you answer the last one. So, here are our questions today, and I'm just gonna try to explain, really, just the uncertainty. If you feel that way and wondering what in the world is going on, let me tell you the Bible is clear.
Now, here's the first question. The first question is, is this the end? Is this the end? And that's a great question that actually has some biblical footing. So, if you've wondered if it's the end, it's probably because you've read verses like this, where Jesus... both Matthew and Luke's gospel record Jesus's dissertation on the end times. And Jesus said to them, "Hey, there's going to be a period of time where it's gonna be nearing the end, where nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, famines and plagues or pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven". And so there is definitely, without question, been a rise in all of those.
So, those have always existed, but there is a rise in them right now, which has made people wonder, is this the end? But then Jesus, going to Matthew's gospel, same conversation, just different gospel... Jesus said, "But look, that's not the end yet. These are just the beginnings of birth pains. So, when you see those things, here's what you would need to know, and that is it is getting closer". So, I do believe, personally, that we are at the beginning of the birth pains. In fact, we are the only generation that has ever existed that all of the signs are currently fulfilled of the end times, so in my opinion Jesus could return any time he'd like. I mean, in fact, we were the first generation that was able to do things like fulfill a verse in Revelation where it says that the two witnesses will be slain in the streets.
Now, the Bible wrote this a couple of thousand years ago. John the disciple said, these two witnesses are going to be slain, lay in the streets, and the whole world will be able to witness it. Well, that wasn't even possible until there were satellites and space broadcasting television, where we could see things live around the world. We were the first generation that could even see that it's true. Now, I know that already kind of scares a bunch of you, and it shouldn't scare you, because, again, we're on the right side of this history. We're on the right side of biblical history, and I want to read this to you just to make sure that you don't get too nervous, 1 Thessalonians 5. But if you really want to read a lot about the end times, Paul put his portion of the end time theology in the book of Thessalonians, 1st chapter, 4th chapter, 5th chapter, and it says, "Now, brothers and sisters," watch this, "about times and dates", like is this the end?
"We don't need to write to you, for you know very well..." And I'm making sure you know very well, "that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night". So, in other words, when the Lord returns, it's not gonna be when you were expecting it. And that's really important for you to know and understand. And "while people are saying, 'Peace and safety...'" And so right there, we're not in that. No one's saying peace, and no one's saying safety. We're saying, "I'm distressed, and I could get the virus". And the Bible says, no, no, no. When Jesus returns, it's gonna be in a season where you weren't expecting it. So, you'll have all these birth pains. You'll see things on the rise. But at the time that it happens, it's gonna be in a time that's like a thief in the night. "Destruction will come on them suddenly as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness".
And I'm trying to make sure that you're not today, "so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. And we do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like the others". And I want a time out right here and say to you, this is a good time, and it's already really happening. It's amazing what tragedy and crisis and, you know, the days like September 11th, it really wakes us up, and we kind of run to God. We're seeing record numbers. I'm not saying us. I'm talking about the church globally, record numbers of people wanting prayer and record numbers of people watching online, and record numbers of people giving their life to Jesus. Why? Because this wakes us up. These events like this wake us up a bit.
And so the Bible is saying, "Hey, don't be like that, 'cause actually you could end up missing it, if you do". He said, "So let us not be like others, who are asleep..." And I thank God that, you know, if there's any good that's come out of this coronavirus is the fact that people are waking up, "but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet". Watch this. "For God did not appoint you and me to suffer wrath..." So, if you want to know.. I had one person say, "Is this the tribulation"? No, no, no, no, because there's gonna be the rapture of God's church before the great wrath of the tribulation happens. Why? Because God did not appoint you to suffer wrath.
That's the encouraging part, by the way, right there. That's the part where you don't need to be afraid, because God didn't want you to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died. That's what we're celebrating this weekend. "He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another". And that's what I'm trying to do today, just letting you know, listen to me, listen to me, God's got you. You're on the right side of all this, because in biblical prophecy, it tells us that we win. We win.
In fact, in the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul was celebrating a group of people that said, "Man, we're gonna serve you, Jesus". He said, "I'm so glad you got to turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God, to wait for his Son from heaven, who he has raised from the dead", there's the Easter message, "Jesus, who rescues us," he says it again, "from the coming wrath". He's always wanted you to escape what's coming. You need to know that. So, no, this is not the end. So, what do we do? We need to be always... back to Jesus in Luke 21, "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man".
What is Jesus saying? He's saying that some people are actually, when all this happens, even maybe those who call themselves Christians, are going to be asleep when all this happens, and I don't want you to be asleep. And one of the best things I think can happen from this coronavirus pandemic is the fact that we kind of wake up and realize, you know what? I've left God out of my life, and I've left, I kind of live my life in my own way. In fact, Jesus goes on to say that many are going to miss eternity, because they really weren't ready. In fact, he says it this way in Luke chapter 24, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most is going to grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved". So, let me give you this as a kind of a answer to the question, "Is this the end"? No, this isn't the end, but it is the beginning of the end, and we all need to kind of wake up and realize that.
All right, here's question number two. Question number two, we're kind of doing our little survey like I normally would, but I'm answering the first two questions. You'll get to answer the last one here in a second. Question number two goes like this, and that is, "What is the correlation," because there is one, "What is the correlation between what we're talking about today, the end times, and the song we sang about him opening up the scroll, what's the correlation between the End Times and Easter, like the Resurrection Day? What's the correlation"? And the reason why I ask that question is I want you to know that many times, when the resurrection is mentioned, it also mentions the end times, and there's a reason.
I'll read it to you in 1 Thessalonians, 'cause remember that's the portion where Paul gives his dissertation on the end times. And in chapter 4, he says, "Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave..." Now, I'm giving it to you out of The Message, because The Message just says it so beautifully. "Since Jesus died," that's Good Friday, "and broke loose from the grave," that's what we're celebrating today, "God will most certainly bring back to life us..." Now, he does it in two ways, by the way. So, Resurrection Day, what we're celebrating today let's us know that anything in my life that is dead, God can resurrect. He can resurrect a dead marriage, dead finances, dead emotions. There's a resurrection that takes place. If the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, he will raise you up.
That's what the book of Romans says. So, he's gonna bring us back to life, but not only in the kind of now, but the big resurrection moment for us isn't the ones we experience every day. It's this one. And what do you say? "Chris, what is this one"? This is the rapture of the church before the tribulation. He says it clearly. He says, "God will most certainly bring back to life those who have died". It means every loved one whose body is in some cemetery somewhere, their spirits are in heaven, God's gonna bring back to life those who died who were Christians, watch this. "And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence, that we have the Master's word on it, that when the Master comes again to get us," and he is coming again, and I think it's actually pretty soon. "Those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind".
In other words, before he raptures us that are alive when all this happens, he's gonna make sure he gets the ones that have already, had gone to heaven, whose bodies are in grace in places. And in actual fact, they'll be ahead of us. "The Master himself will give the command. The archangel will thunder! God's trumpet will blast! And He's going to come down from heaven..." Now, this is a piece of theology that you need to embrace, and that is the second coming of Christ. He's coming again. He's gonna rapture his church. Then it's going to begin the 7 years of wrath and tribulation. "He'll come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise, and they'll go first". And he says, "And then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up..."
Harpazo in the Greek is what that word is. The Latin is raptair, where we get the word "rapture". And we're gonna "be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Master. And, oh, we'll be walking on air"! And then he says this, watch this. "And there will be one huge family reunion". Isn't that a beautiful thought? Again, I wanted this message not to scare you. I wanted to encourage you, that you're not gonna suffer wrath. Oh, this is so bad. God is sending his Son Jesus on a rescue plan. He's gonna snatch, rapture his church, and we're gonna be caught up. we're gonna be spared from all of it. And not only that, we're gonna be reunited with every loved one who's already invested on that other side.
I can't wait to see my grandfather, my grandmother, my dad, Tammy's dad and mom. There's gonna be a great, huge family reunion with the Master. And then it says this: "So reassure one another with these words". So, again, it starts off with this discussion about the resurrection of Jesus, and it says, hey, look, there's gonna be another resurrection, and you need to be ready for it. And people don't need to be afraid of what's going on, on planet earth, 'cause you're gonna be caught up, and you're gonna be spared, and you're gonna be reunited. So, what's the answer to the question of what the correlation is? Here it is, here it is. And that is, "Just like Jesus rose again, we're gonna rise again". You need to know that. You really need to know that.
All right, here's the last question. And it goes back to the song that the team sung, and it goes back to really, I really felt like the Lord led me to that song a couple of months ago, recorded by Chris Tomlin, written by another incredible songwriter. But I've been listening to it over and over, and it dawned on me that this needs to be what our Easter message is all about. And before I give you, really, the question, the big question, what I love about the song is that it asks questions. And I think that's how people feel. I think people feel like, "I don't know right now, and so I'm asking questions". And the team can go ahead and come out.
I want to just read you some of the words, and the reason we sung a minute ago. "Do you feel the world is broken"? Well, of course, we do. There's been terrorism and violence and hatred. And, you know, before coronavirus, I think we have seen unprecedented polarization and hatred of one another. And isn't it interesting? As bad as this pandemic is, how it's brought us all together again. Like, we're not talking politics. We're not talking all of those things. We're coming together. "Do you feel the world is broken"? Of course, it was. We all know that. We all saw the arrogance. We all saw the pride on the earth. We all saw the immorality that was sweeping across our land. "Do you wish that you could see it made all new"? Of course, we do. And I don't think God created this pandemic. I think he's responding to it. I think the enemy created this thing.
But I'm gonna tell you what it is doing. It's causing us to wake up again. In fact, the next verse says it this way: "Is creation groaning"? We already answered that question. We're in the beginning of birth pains. The earth is groaning. There are pestilences. There are diseases, and they are on the rise. "And is it good that we remind ourselves of this"? Of course, it is. And that's when the chorus of this song goes to Revelation chapter 5. In fact, before they sang the song, you heard the whole chapter of Revelation chapter 5; and that's when the tribulation begins, by the way. In fact, in chapter 6, it talks about the beginning of the tribulation and the opening of the scroll. You may not have known this, but the opening of the scroll that we sang about, well, the scroll is the tribulation. It starts the wrath of God on the earth.
And the song goes like this, it says, "Is anyone worthy? Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll"? Watch this now. Don't miss it. And it's sung by a chorus of people in heaven, who answered the question correctly. And this is getting to what the final question of the day is. So, let me say that again. They're asking, "Is this gonna happen? Is this getting ready to start? And who's going to start it? Who's worthy to open the scroll and begin the great 7 years of tribulation"? And it's sung by a group of people who answer the question correctly, and I want to make sure you're in that chorus of people. And they go, and they say, "It's the Lion of Judah who conquered the grave".
Easter, the day we celebrate today. That's who's worthy, the one who never sinned, the one who paid for everyone to be able to escape it. Let me say it this way: God never intended anyone to go to hell, no one to experience the tribulation. It is God's will, the Bible says, that all men be saved. He wanted to rescue us all. Who's worthy? "He is"! Jesus. So, the last question only you can answer it. So, I'd like to give you the answer to the last one, but only you know the answer to the last one. So, I answered the first two. Is this the end times? No. But we're close. It's the beginning. And what's the correlation between Easter and the end times? Well, there's gonna be... the greatest resurrection was Jesus.
The second greatest one is when we are all resurrected and escape tribulation. We're in heaven, a day where there's no more crying, sighing, no more viruses, no more sickness, no more death, but the last question goes like this. It's very simple. "Is he worthy"? And the answer to the question is how you end up in heaven singing, "He is"! The pass code into heaven is declaring that "He's worthy, he's worthy, he's worthy, he is worthy". And you don't have to have your life perfect, and you don't have to get rid of your own sin. You don't have to become a religious, the Bible says in Romans chapter 10, you just declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord". He's the true and living God. He rose from the dead, and today I put my faith in him, and he's worthy to open the scroll.
So, let me summarize the whole message this way. You ready for it? By the way, he is worthy, he is worthy. If you choose Jesus, it's gonna get better. Let me say it this way. This is as bad as it ever gets, if you're a follower of Jesus. 'Cause you'll be rescued from all the coming wrath. But if you don't choose Jesus, this is nothing. It only gets worse. And I know it's on the heart of our God today that you be in the chorus of people in heaven who have escaped the coming wrath, who declared the Lamb who rose from the dead is worthy. So, normally, we end our Easter services with this spiritual survey, and we're gonna do this part today. In fact, if you would, I would love for all of you to respond, everybody, 'cause all of you, all of you are in one of four spiritual categories, if you will. You're in one of four places.
And if you don't mind, I would just love for you to text the letter that you are to the 74000, 74000, and it's just gonna give you a prompt. You're not giving us any information or anything like that. It's completely safe. But I would just love to know, of those that are watching this service, which one of these four are you? So, before you do it, let me go through all of them, all right? And here's the first one, and that is, A, if you text A to 74000 or if you're watching on one of the social media platforms, there is like a response card there, Easter response card, you could use that, as well, but the easiest is just a text. The A, if you typed, if you put A in 74000, it means, "I'm already in that chorus of people. I've already declared he's worthy. My life's not perfect, but I'm in a real relationship with Jesus".
That's what the A stands for. The B says, "I'd like to begin that". Well, for some of you to begin again. So, you were close to him, but you've walked away, and you want to begin a real relationship with Jesus, would you text B to 74000? And it'll give you a prompt of some things we'd love to offer to you, I'll tell you about in a second. C in the spiritual survey says, "I'm close, I'm closer than I was before this message, that's for sure, but I need to consider it more first. Thank you, but not yet". That's fine. If that's where you are, we love the fact that people have always come to our church, who really don't necessarily agree with and believe yet. They just want to check it all out first, and that's totally fine. We've always wanted a place that wasn't just for Christians, but also for people who want to consider it a bit more first.
So, if that's you, would you put C in the text 74000? And to just kind of tell you what you could do next, if you'd like to. Again, it gives us no information or anything like that. The D one, every year I do this. I tremble on the inside every time I even read this D one. D says, "I'm not ever doing this. I don't even know why I'm watching this service right now. I don't ever intend on making that decision". And if that's where you are, that's where you are. Whether you like it or not, we're going to be praying for you. And if you texted D to 74000, it'll give you a prompt, as well, of what our hope is for you. So just check it out. Again, no information is passed, completely safe. I'm gonna give you about 10 seconds, 15 seconds.
Would you go to your phone or your tablet, or if you want to use the e-serve response card, that's fine, too. And just put A, I'm already a Christian; B, I want to become one or begin again; C, check it out a little bit more first; or D, I don't ever intend. Would you take 15 seconds, and do that right now? And I want to close the service this way. I wrote a book that came out at Easter last year, and I say I did... we did, the church did, called, "What's Next"? And for every one of you guys that texted B, if you'd like it, it'll give you a prompt of some information you can give us, just so we can get this book into your hands. It's our gift to you. And I don't get anything from it personally. This is just something we want to do for you. What it does, though, it'll give you the next steps.
What's next? You have a spiritual journey to not just know God, but to find freedom, discover your purpose, and make a difference. And it'll be our honor to get this resource into your hands, especially you're stuck at home, quarantined, this might be a good read while you're at home. If you want to begin a relationship with the Lord, you want to begin again, text B, 74000, and we'll get this to you as soon as we can. I want to pray for you. Father, I thank you for every person that's making faith decisions. I think you for every person who says, "I need to begin again," or "I need to believe", and I'm ready, I'm ready to be in the chorus of people who say, "Worthy is the Lamb". And if that's you, would you just repeat these words with me right there where you are? Just say:
Jesus, thank you for dying for me, paying for my sin. Today, I make you the Lord of my life. I surrender all to you. Come live inside of me by your Spirit and begin a work, a change inside of me. I give you my life today, and I make the declaration I believe you're worthy, you're worthy to open the scroll. I believe you are the Son of God. I believe you're the true and living God. I believe that you died, were buried, and you rose again, and today I put my faith in you. In your name I pray, amen.