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Jack Graham - Jesus Now and Forever

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    Jack Graham - Jesus Now and Forever
TOPICS: Easter

2000 years ago Jesus burst forth out of the grave. He lives, and because He lives, we will live also. Because He lives, we can face every day and every tomorrow. There's a sentence in the Scripture, Hebrews chapter 13 and verse 8. It's one of my favorite sentences in all of the Bible, because it tells us who Jesus is forever and ever, past, present and future. For it says: "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever"! That's who He is! Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Messiah who is the same! God is ever unchanging, always unchanging. There's a big theological word that says God is immutable. That means God is unchanging. He is the same always and always. And because Jesus Christ is God, He is the same yesterday, today and forever!

Now when we look around us, everything is changing at a rapid pace. Things that we thought would never change. We looked with horror as Notre Dame in Paris burned almost to the ground. Nine hundred years it stood there in the middle of Europe as a testimony of faith of millions of people, and yet in a flash it all came down and it's all changed now. We've seen change in our generations like never before. Back in the sixties, and I was a teenager in the sixties. They say if you can remember the sixties, you probably weren't there. But I was there and I do remember them! And they were chaotic. You think today with all the political division and so much confusion and hate you see in the world today, in our country today. It was really rough in the sixties. It was a revolution in many ways. There was a political revolution, a social revolution.

And the theme of our generation was sung by Bob Dylan. Remember Bob Dylan? "The times, they are a changin'" And we saw everything begin to change. Thank God, there was not only these kinds of revolutions. A lot of good things came out of the Sixties, including a Jesus Revolution, a great Jesus Movement. And I, along with millions of young people, were swept up in this great Jesus revival that took place all across our country, and really around the world. But things change. And from generation to generation now, with technology changing, and media change and 24/7 news, it's just so much change! We look around just in a personal level and how much has changed in these years. This is my thirtieth year to preach Easter at Prestonwood! Thirty straight years and I can tell you a lot has changed since I was thirty-eight in three decades. And yet I've really been preaching since I was a teenager so I've been preaching over fifty years this same message.

And I tell you today I feel like a rookie up in Yankee Stadium for the first time, because it's still thrilling to me. It's still so exciting to me. I've never been more pumped up about the message that we have than right here, right now. Because, listen, Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever, in spite of all of these changes. Now for millenniums not a lot changed, but in our times change! I mean the one thing you can count on is change. And a lot of people don't like change, but what has not changed, the one constant, the one contemporary constant is Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever! He is eternally God, past, present and future. He is superior, supernatural, and sovereign. Jesus Christ is Lord! Not only has Jesus, the message not changed but the mission hasn't changed. If you want to know who we are and what we're about as a church it is to fulfill the marching orders of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and make disciples, and baptize them and grow them up in faith".

That never changes because Jesus never changes. And I'll tell you what else hasn't changed, and that is people haven't changed all that much, because the basic human condition, the soul of human beings is basically the same. The culture may change all around us, our bodies change, our families change, friends are in and out of our lives and all the rest, but there are certain things that are true. And certainly, every person born into this world, you face several problems. For example, there's the problem of guilt. Every one is guilty. We are born guilty and in need of a Savior. There's guilt and so many people are living in guilt and shame. And then there's the problem of loneliness. We are the most connected technologically. Looking at our screen, we've got friends on Facebook and twitter and all the rest, and yet this is the loneliest generation! The suicide rate among young people as well as adults are way, way up! And loneliness in our culture has become epidemic.

People are lonely. And then people are empty. There's that hole in the soul, though we have so much to live on and to live with. We are empty of the things that matter the most. People want to know why with so much, do I feel so empty and alone and guilty? And then people are afraid. People are afraid to die. You say, "No, they're not". Yes, they are! People are afraid to die. And death is real. We see it all around us. I remember as a young pastor and doing some of my first funeral services. By now I've done hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of funeral services. But I can remember. Even the death of my own father, I can remember looking at bodies in a casket and thinking, "Is this all there is? Is this what it's come to"? What's our message to a dying generation? The message is "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever".

There's a great Gospel song that says "Living He loved me; dying He saved me; buried He carried my sins far away. Rising He justified freely forever; One day He's coming. O Glorious Day"! And because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever we ought to live as if Jesus died yesterday, rose again this morning and is coming again this afternoon. Jesus is the same! How so? Jesus is the same yesterday. Now here's the facts. The story of Jesus is not fiction; it's not fable. He is not a legend; He really lived. Now He lived before He came to earth. I need to make this clear. Because Jesus is eternally God, the same yesterday, today and forever, He did not become at Bethlehem. He is the great I AM who has always existed. He is eternal God. And in eternity past, beyond which your mind or mine could possibly fathom He existed.

But in a time in history Jesus of Nazareth, God became a human being. God become one of us. God is with us, Immanuel. And He was born with a supernatural birth. He lived a sinless life; He died a sacrificial death on the cross. Spectacularly He rose from the grave and soon He is coming again. I'm saying that these are not fables or legends or lies. All of history is divided by the coming of Jesus into the world. Jesus yesterday is real. He is real! And the reason that He came, the infinite God-Man became one of us in order to go to the cross, die on the cross for our sins, to rise again so that we could have eternal life. Why? Because all of us have a problem and that problem is you and me. I'm the problem; you're the problem. You need to take responsibility for the problem. It's not your genetics, it's not your background, your education or lack of education, it's not the community in which you were raised, it's not politics, it's not the president, it's not government. We are the problem! The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

You say, "Well, I got a good heart". No, you don't! You're not a good person. I hate to break the news to you on Easter Sunday morning. You say, "Well, yes, I am". No, you're not! You're not a good person. Because "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked". You may not be as bad as you could be, but none of us are good; that's what the Bible says. "There is none righteous; no, not one". There is not one who is good! We've all broken God's Commandments; we've all sinned against a holy God! And, look, you can't solve the problem because you are the problem! Evolution can't solve the problem. Education can't solve the problem. Effort can't solve the problem. Behavior modification, changing, doing your best. Environment! We say, "Well, we'll change the environment! That will solve the problem"! No, it won't! Because you, we, me and you, we are the problem. It's called sin, and we've all sinned. "And the wages of sin is death".

So, Jesus Christ, yesterday on the cross, died and defeated sin, and at His resurrection He defeated death! Because what happened, Jesus did not come just to make bad people better. He came to make dead people alive! You don't need reformation or rejuvenation or revitalization; you need resurrection! You're breathing, but you're not alive. "Because the wages of sin is death". Spiritually we're all born dead. We're dead men walking. And so that's why Jesus took death on the cross and because we owed a debt we could not pay, He paid a debt that He did not owe. And He took our place on the cross. It's called redemption! We all love a comeback story, a redemption story. This is redemption. Jesus paid the price, the penalty.

"Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe". And to prove His power over death, He came out of the grave. Nobody could keep Him down. The stone was rolled away, the angel was sitting on that stone when people began to arrive: the women, then the apostles, but "He's not here; He is risen"! You ever wonder why the stone was rolled away? Jesus didn't need an angel or anyone else to roll the stone away! He could have walked right through the stone in His supernatural body. He could have moved the stone Himself with supernatural strength. Why was the stone rolled away? Why was the tomb open? Why was it wide open? So people could see in? Exactly! Jesus didn't move the stone. The stone wasn't moved because He needed it moved; but we needed to see inside. We needed to look at that.

And though we have not seen that with our physical eyes, those apostles and witnesses in the first century, they saw that the tomb was empty. Where's the body? Where has He gone? Produce the body and whole thing would have been over! But there was no body! You can't keep His body down! He came out of the grave! I've been to Jerusalem many times, and we take people with us. And the highlight of the trip is when we go to the place called Calvary and see skull hill there that still remains. Many believe the very place where Jesus was executed. And next to it is a garden where there is a tomb, and that tomb is empty to this day! I've been in it! You can walk around in it. There's a little sign that says: "He is not here; He is risen"!

But then there's Jesus, the same today. What's the relevance of this today? What's the relevance of the resurrection? Now He is the contemporary Christ, and by that, I mean, He is here now! Ever present, always with us. His Spirit is alive in us. Which means... what happened to Jesus after the resurrection? He ascended into the very throne of God, and He right this very moment, you know what Jesus is doing? You don't have to wonder. The Bible tells us what Jesus is doing right now. Two things, really. One, He's interceding for us. That means He's praying for you and me. Interceding. He's mediating.

Hebrews chapter 7 tells us that "He ever lives to make intercession for His saints". And Paul said to Timothy, "There's one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ". That's why it's wonderful when people pray for you, it's wonderful when a pastor prays for you, wonderful when Christians pray for one another, and we believe God answers prayer. We know God answers prayer. We've seen God answer prayer. It's wonderful to pray. We're commanded to pray for one another. But the best is to know that right now, if you are a follower of Jesus, if you are a believer, Jesus is praying for you; He's interceding for you. That means anything you're going through, any struggle, any need, any problem.

Look, if you knew that Jesus this moment was praying for you in your pain, in your problem, in your struggle, if you knew Jesus was calling your name in prayer, don't you think you could get through anything in your life, if you knew and you believed, because let me tell you something, Jesus always gets His prayers answered, and He knows what is best. He's praying for us. He is our prayer partner. He's interceding. But let me tell you, He's not only interceding for us, He is indwelling us. That means He lives in us. This is Christianity. This is the Christian faith. Paul who was a former terrorist and murderer, persecuting Christians, was dramatically converted by the risen Christ. A pharisee, a religionist, religionist and an arsonist. He met Christ and he put it this way: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life that I now live in flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me"!

That, my friends, is Christian faith. Christ in you! This is hope. "Christ in you, the hope of glory". And this is the promise. That the risen Christ is alive in us! I am alive because He lives in me! The very breath I take is because of Him! I am alive! You are alive, if you know Christ, because He lives in your life! God is in you! It's the power of the resurrection! And this is no mickey mouse power! You say, "What is this power that is within us"? Well, again, the Scripture tells us. Ephesians chapter 1 talks about this power. I want them to put it on the screen. "And what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when (what?) raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, dominion and authority, power, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church".

This power, you just read it, is resurrection power! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us! Paul said, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection"! That I may know Him more and more and more in this power every single day! I got up this morning pretty early. I looked in the mirror and I said, "Oh, my goodness! I felt like a dead man". But then I said to myself as I say to myself often, "Jesus is alive in me"! His deity inhabits my humanity. He is my identity. I am alive in Him. Christ lives in me. I am in Christ. Your identity is not in your name; it's in His name. Your identity is not in what you do; it's in what He has done for you! Your strength is not in yourself; it is in the strength and the power of God!

You can say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". And Jesus in you, He breaks the power of sin in your life, and addiction and all the rest! Whatever it is that you're facing in your life, there is resurrection power to set you free! And the same God who broke the bondage of death will break any bondage in your life. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever because one day, and one day soon, I believe Jesus is coming again. Be that as it may, I know that one day I will be with the Lord. That's a promise He made. When He defeated death, when He came out of that grave, He said, "I'm the resurrection and the life; you believe in the Me, you will also live. He who believes in Me will live forever". Because Christ is reigning, He's ruling, He's returning, nobody gonna keep me down when He comes again.

The Bible says, "The dead in Christ shall rise first. And then we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord will be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so will we ever be with the Lord". He has dominion over death and hell! He has conquered the grave! And as I said when I've seen all these deaths through the years, presided over funerals, it's like this world is a long funeral procession. And yet the risen Christ, the reality that Jesus lives makes it possible for you to know that you know that you're going to heaven one day with Him. He said, "I go to prepare a place for you". No Christian should be afraid to die! I'm not afraid to die! There's no need to fear death because He has broken the bondage of death. Death is a bondage but we are free from the fear of death. I'm not afraid to die. That's not bravado, that's believing in Jesus.
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