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Dr. Ed Young - Reversing the Irreversible

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    Dr. Ed Young - Reversing the Irreversible

How much faith does it take this Easter for you to believe that you are in a worship service, seated there in that chair? How much faith do you have to have to believe that? How much faith do you have to have to believe that I am standing here in this service before you, and there stands Homer Edwin Young, standing up before you? How much faith, this Easter, does it take for you to believe that? It doesn't take any faith to believe that you're seated in that chair. It doesn't any faith to believe that I am standing up here, and I'm gonna tell you something. How much faith does it take to believe that Jesus conquered the grave, was dead, and lived, and rose from the dead? You know how much faith it takes to believe that? Zero. It doesn't take a scintilla of faith. It doesn't take an ounce of faith. It doesn't take a drop of faith to believe Christ is risen...

You say, "Well, why is that"? Because the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact. Doesn't any faith to believe you're seated there. Doesn't have any faith to believe I'm standing here, because it's factual, right? So is the resurrection of Jesus. It is an established fact. It has been examined for over 2,000 years by scholars, by skeptics, by philosophers, by anthropologists, by archaeologists, by historians, by those who spend their lifetime trying to prove or disprove historical truth, or historical legend, and therefore, we come and exclaim with total confidence that this is a true, historical event in time and space.

How do we know that? There is an avalanche, miles and miles, of forensic evidence. Let's just start with the empty tomb. Jesus was buried. The stone was put in place. The Roman seal was put there that no one could violate. Then, that Easter morn, the stone had been rolled away. The guards were in disarray. Why was that stone rolled away? You say, "That's obvious, so Jesus could come out of the grave". Oh no, the stone was rolled away so you and I and those 1st-century witnesses could see that he was not in the grave, and they looked in, and what did they see? More forensic evidence. They saw that the grave clothes that he was wrapped in was like a chrysalis. They were still in place, and they saw the napkin that was over his forehead. It was neatly folded, literally, it says.

What does that say? That is forensic evidence, first of all. In the Middle East, when you get through eating and you have a napkin, you just put it to one side, but if you're not through eating, you take that napkin, and you fold it up, and that was a simple witness that he was resurrected, but he's coming again. You see all the forensic evidence that surrounds this, the response of those who had been disciples? The response of the Romans? The response of the Jewish leaders? What about those apostles who had run at the first moment of crucifixion.

Now you see the fact that the Resurrection gave them boldness. Not only that, we know that Christ is risen... Because of eyewitness accounts. If you're in a court of law and you wanna prove or disprove something, it sure is nice to have those who saw and witnessed that which took place. It would be nice to have a couple of witnesses. That would be good, credible witnesses, but what if you had many, many witnesses, and that's what you have surrounding the fact of the Resurrection? You have 40 days, 11 different appearances, different places, different settings, Sea of Galilea. Jesus prepared some fish and ate some fish. You see he was touched by some, the women who grabbed him. We know he showed up there in the road to Emmaus. We know he was in Jerusalem, probably in the upper room. He appeared to the 12. He appeared to those who did not want to believe, i.e. his brother. He appeared to some that he had no contact with before, and so you see, Jesus was popping up everywhere as the resurrected Lord in his resurrected body during those 40 days.

Then, after that, we have other eyewitness account. The apostle Paul, the road to Damascus, Stephen, as he was being stoned, John on the island of Patmos, so all of a sudden, you have witness after witness, eyewitness after eyewitness, who were standing up and said, "We know he was crucified and buried. Certainly, he is alive again". And they gave an eyewitness testimony. One event, we're told that over 500 men witnessed him alive following his death, over 500 men, and by the way, in that day they didn't count women. So, how many women were there? They didn't count teenagers. They'd not become adults, had their bar mitzvah. Therefore, you can easily say over a thousand people witnessed Jesus in his resurrected body.

You see how the evidence piled up, forensic evidence, eyewitness evidence? In a court of law, if you want to prove this were true, just start parading all those witnesses up there. What did they see? What did they hear? What did they observe? And all of a sudden, you come to the overwhelming conclusion, if you have an ounce of intellectual honesty, that Christ is risen. It's a historical fact. You don't have to have faith to believe it. Now, but there is another aspect of the Resurrection, something else that Easter does. It gives validity and it affirms and it validates everything about Jesus. People have doubted this, wondered about that.

You see, the Resurrection validates all of that. It says a lot of things about it. First of all, it validates the prophetic words that were written about the Messiah. Now, mark it down. Thousands of years before Jesus, prophets were given with the eye and the mind of God, describing the Messiah, a lot of aspects of his life. There are over 300 prophecies that allude to and relate to Jesus and his coming years and years and years ahead, written down in advance. Now, some of those are very minor, some of them are obscure, and some of them you could debate whether they apply to the Messiah, but there are over 300 of them. And there are 61 major prophecies written down hundreds of years before, that Jesus fit exactly in his life.

Now, you say, "Well," and skeptics have said this. They say, "You know, he just looked at those prophecies, and he purposely lived them out. He purposely fulfilled those, so that makes that illegitimate". But let's just take, as many scholars have, eight basic profound prophecies that he could not possibly have intentionally fulfilled: the place of his birth, the time of his birth, the circumstances around his birth, his death. Eight clear things that nobody could say, "Well, he intentionally fulfilled those," because they were way outside of human control.

Now, stay with me. What are the odds, what are the chances, what is the problematical theory that would tell you that one person between the 1st century to the 21st century would fulfill perfectly all eight of those prophecies? What are the odds, the probability? Professor Peter Stoner, years ago, a scholar who deals in the area of probability, he would have been very successful in Las Vegas. He looked at these eight prophecies, and he said, "What are the chances? What are the odds"? And he discovered the chances are them being fulfilled in one person is 10 to the 17th power, 10 to the 17th power. That is 1 with 17 zeroes after it. That is the chance, 1 in 10 to the 17th power that these would be fulfilled in one person.

Now, to explain that, Stoner did something that I like very much. He took the state of Texas, and he said if you take the state of Texas, and you cover it from El Paso, to Galveston, and you covered all the state of Texas in silver dollars 2 feet thick, how about that? The whole state is covered. He said then you would go and take one of those silver dollars and put a cross on it, bang, bang, and you'd take that silver dollar, and you would put it somewhere in all of those silver dollars 2 feet thick, that cover the whole state of Texas, and Stoner says then you go and find somebody from Lower Slobbovia, and you bring 'em here, you blindfold them, and you push 'em out in the state of Texas, what are the chances that that person, blindfolded, would reach down and pick up that one silver dollar that had that cross on it? What are the odds? What are the chances that that would happen? He said it's 1 in 10 to the 17th power.

By the way, I love to sit down with some skeptics and point this out to them. You know, this is a clear indication that the Bible is God's Word, and it's clear indication that Jesus alone fulfilled all of those prophecies about him. This validates the fact that he is indeed the Son of God. Easter does that, especially and particularly Christ is risen. Also, it validates his teachings. You read the Sermon on the Mount, you read the Sermon on the Plain, you read his parables. You know what you discover? Not any of the teachings of Jesus you would arrive at through common sense. Isn't that something?

You say, "You know, I had a feeling". No, no, no, no, you have supernatural sense. His teachings basically are contrary to everything the culture of that day and everything the culture today would believe. It is a divine insight, and the Resurrection nails down the fact this is God's truth for man today and forever. The Resurrection does that, validates that. Also, the Resurrection validates the claims that Jesus made for himself, all the "I am" passages. "I am the bread. I'm the light. I'm the way. I'm the truth. I'm the", all those "I am" passages, Jesus made claims to be divine, made claims fulfilling prophecy.

It is the Resurrection that validates all of that. Also, it validates his miracles. You read, some people say, "Well, he walked on water". A skeptic would say, "He knew where the rocks were"? He fed the 5,000. "Well, all of them brought out their lunches, and they had more bread and fish to spare". Oh, he made the blind to see. "Well, that's pretty hard to do". He made the lame to walk! "That's a big deal". And he brought some who were dead alive again.

You see, it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that validates all of that. That's the reason we say, "Christ is risen". It validates everything about Jesus. It validates the cross in which he took your garbage and my garbage, and he died for you and died for me. It makes this real, because he who was dead is alive again. So, this is Easter, ladies and gentlemen. It is Easter. Easter is a historical fact. Don't need any faith to believe something that's historically true, verified, stamped, and sealed by anyone who would be scientifically or intellectually honest. Also, it validates everything we know about Jesus. Everything, question that is asked about Jesus, the Resurrection takes care of that, but what's the most important thing about it, most significant thing? The Resurrection of Jesus tells us that death is dead. Easter killed death. Ain't that magnificent? It's magnificent.

Now, Easter, the fact that Christ is risen, there is two areas, two types of resurrection involved there, and some of us missed the first one. The first type of resurrection comes that we are spiritually dead, and we need to be brought back to life. We need to be made spiritually alive. We were all born spiritually dead. What does that mean, somebody who is spiritually dead? You say, "Well, that sounds religious and churchy, and I don't know about..." Let me tell you, somebody who's spiritually dead is somebody who lives their life on the basis of basically two things with a lot of subsets: pleasure and possessions. Pleasure and possessions, and we get to heaven, and God said, "Well, what was your life all about"? Pleasure and possessions. That's somebody who lives their life in terms of "my way". "I'm gonna live my life in my terms. I'm gonna do my own thing".

And you see this expressed in a classical, popular song sung so beautifully by Frank Sinatra. He said, "I did it my way". Oh, yeah, he said, "The end is near, of this I'm certain". He said, "I live my life my way". In the last stanza, he says, "I speak the words. I did it my way," he said, "not as those who bend the knee". No, no, no religion there, no faith there, no God there. He said, "I just live my life in my terms, my way," and it was a prideful thing. A lot of people live like that. You know what happens when you live like that? Your marriage just grows a little dull. It almost dies. Your relationships, boy, they're not as alive and vital as they once were. Your hobbies, your vocation, your recreation, it sort of dims out until finally, you go from here to there and there to here, and suddenly, there is a dullness and a staleness and a deadness, and you become jaded and become spiritually dead. This happens to us.

Are you spiritually dead today? Easter speaks especially to you if you're anywhere in this category, because the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ in this life offers the resurrection power to those who receive Jesus Christ. You see, when we receive Jesus Christ, we become a person who is in Christ, and Christ is in us. What does that mean? It means we receive the Holy Spirit, and we get this. Did it take a lot of power for somebody who is dead to be brought back to life? Do you think that's a powerful thing? If somebody were dead here, and I went and said, "Hey, I'm gonna use power and bring that person back to life," would that be powerful?

It is the power that God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, used to raise Jesus from the dead. We are given this power in this life so we can no longer be spiritually dead. We can be spiritually alive. That's the first aspect of the Resurrection. That is the "already" part of it, the already, now in Christ, already. We have the power to live a resurrected life, to be transformed. Well, what does a spiritual life look like? Somebody might say, "Well, I'm not very spiritual. I'm not very religious. You know, I'm just..." No, no, no, a spiritual life, let me tell you the characteristics of a spiritual life. See if you would like to have these characteristics operating in your life, and you say, "Well, I've tried to do all that," you'll say that, "but I didn't succeed".

But you will succeed when you've got the resurrection power operating, see? That's what we give in Christ. What are the characteristics of a spiritual life? First one's love. Man, we just love people, we care, we love. We're lovers. The spiritual life has the capacity to genuinely love. We have love. We have joy. Joy isn't contingent on what's going on. We're just filled with joy. That's a spiritual quality. You don't see love. You don't see joy. You have peace, peace with God, peace with yourself, peace with others. You sleep soundly at night when you've got peace, real peace. Love, joy, peace, all of us would like to have that. I don't think anybody would say, "I don't want to be loved. I don't wanna have joy. I don't wanna have peace".

Then, patience. Boy, how we need patience. That comes as a part of spiritual living, using the resurrected power. Kindness. Don't you like people who are kind? Just, they're kind. Kindness, kindness. Goodness. Know somebody, "That person's just... he's a good guy. That's a good gal. They're good people"? Goodness, goodness. Faithfulness. Boy, to be faithful. You can count on this person. "I'll be there. I'll stand there. I don't blink. I don't look back. I'm faithful". Boy, wouldn't we all love to be 24/7 faithful? Faithful, and then we want to be genuine and gentle. We like gentle people. They're gentle. Some of us have an edge to us, but a gentle person, boy, that's a spiritual, and then we ought to be self-controlled, have discipline.

What if we incorporated the power of Jesus Christ, as we're in Christ, and all of a sudden these eight or nine attributes begin to be seen in your life and my life? Would that change everything? I mean, there'd be love, there'd be joy, there'd be peace, there'd be patience, there'd be kindness, there will be gentleness, there'll be self-control, there'll be faithfulness. Wouldn't that be fabulous if all of that were operating in your life and my life? That is a spiritual person, and that is already in this life. That's available today if we draw from the supernatural power that we get when we receive Jesus Christ.

Do you know our problem? You read the paper sometime about somebody who dies, and they lived as paupers. They lived a very poor, poor life. They lived very, very poorly, but when they die, you discover they were really wealthy. Now, some of those didn't know they were wealthy. They lived as poor people in poverty. Others knew they were wealthy, and they didn't use that wealth. What is your place? What is my place? We are wealthy when we receive Christ. We have the power, the resurrection power, in our life to become spiritual people and to begin to transform ourselves inside, not by our effort, but by the very resurrection power of Christ, and we don't use that power, or we don't know we have that power.

So, this Easter, I trust a lot of us will, here, simply say, "How powerful it is to proclaim and to believe that Christ is risen". And then, there is that "already," but then there is the "not yet". We have a spiritual resurrection here in this life, but when breath leaves your life and my life, we have the promise of a resurrection body. The prototype was the resurrection body of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the not yet. Already spiritually we have a resurrected life, potentially as we live in Christ. The not yet will come when we graduate from this life, and we get that resurrected body. What is that body like? Paul tells us so clearly in I Corinthians 15. He says we'll take off this thing that is perishable. Have you noticed this thing is perishable? Have you figured that out yet? We take off the perishable, and we put on that which is imperishable. We take off that which is mortal. It's not gonna last. We put on that is immortal, and then you got one of the greatest phrases in all of the Bible.

It says, "Death is swallowed up in victory". Is that out of this world? Out of this world. Death swallowed, and then Paul goes on to say, "Well, death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory"? He said the sting of death is sin, but sin has been taken care of on Calvary, and he said, "But thanks be unto God, who gives us the victory through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ". Boy, it makes you want to say, "Hosanna," doesn't it? In the Old Testament, the word "hosanna" is used one time, Psalm 118, and it's a picture of David. He's despondent, he's defeated, everybody's turned away from him, he's bottomed out, he is depressed, he is angry, all those emotions, and then David cries out and says, "Hosanna". And there is an Aramaic word, and it means "save me".

Is that where you are? Somebody is spiritually dead, we'd say, "Save me. Hosanna," Old Testament. In the New Testament, the word "hosanna" is used three times, same word, but it's taken on new meaning, because it's post-resurrection. Now it means "I have been saved," and that's what Easter does for us, ladies and gentlemen. There's some here who need to be spiritually brought back to life, where you can hear, I love to say it, the sound of the trumpets in the morning. Passion comes back. Relationships catch fire. There's a freshness and a newness, and a transformation takes place, not by my trying harder, but by submitting and letting the power of the resurrected Lord flow through your life and flow through my life.
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