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James Merritt - Grave Significance

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    James Merritt - Grave Significance
TOPICS: Easter

New York Times bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called "The Tipping Point", sold over 2 million copies. Great book. The basis of the book is really simple. Here's what Gladwell said. He said, "Drastic change happens at one particular point". You would think that significant changes kind of occur in a steady progression, but they really don't. He gives the example of a river. When it begins to rain, I mean, it really begins to rain hard. We all know a river doesn't flood instantly. The water rises, continues to rise and rises. But there's this point when the water crest the bank and when the water crest the bank, then you've got a flood on your hands. It's the tipping point. A miracle moment when just one small change makes all the difference.

I'll give you another example. Scientists know that the difference between 31 degrees and 34 degrees doesn't really feel much colder than the difference between 37 degrees and 34 degrees. You can't really tell the difference, but when that three degree drop hits 32 degrees, rain becomes snow. It's the tipping point. Christianity had a tipping point. 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus comes on the scene. Nobody had heard of him. Nobody knew about him. But they knew real quick. This is a man that said things that nobody else had ever said. This is a man that did things that nobody else had ever done. This was a man that drew people to Jesus, unlike any man who had ever lived. And through his coming and after his leaving, there's never been anybody like Jesus. But that raises a question today.

How did a movement that began in the first century with just a few disciples, 2100 years later. How did that movement become so huge? It now claims one out of every three people on the planet, 2.2 billion people. How did that happen? What was the tipping point? What was the moment when the fuse was lit and the fire of Christianity exploded on the scene? Well, I went back and kind of thought about it. It wasn't his birth. Even though many of us believe he was born of a virgin because everybody's born. It wasn't his life. Even though many of us believe he lived a perfect life because everybody lives. It wasn't his miracles. Even though if what we read is true, he is the greatest miracle worker in the history of the world. And there are people today who still believe in miracles. I saw a miracle in January up in Indianapolis. I know what I'm talking about. But it wasn't that. It wasn't even his death because everybody dies.

And as a matter of fact, crucifixion was kind of a common way of putting people to death 2000 years ago. None of those things caused Christianity to take off. None of those things lit the fire that exploded into what we call the Christian faith. No. The tipping point that instantly set fire to Christianity, the tipping point that turned this world upside down was an empty tomb. The resurrection. Now, assuming the stats are correct, that one out of three people on earth are Christians who believe in the resurrected Lord, that's the good news. So one out of three people you meet anywhere on the planet say at least they believe Jesus was who he said he was.

Did what he said he did. He's their Lord. He's their Savior. That's the good news. Here's the bad news. That means two outta three don't. So two outta three people either say, "Nope, not buying it, don't believe it". Or even worse, "Don't care if it's true or not, doesn't matter. Makes no difference to me. Could not care less, just doesn't matter". So we're definitely living in what people now call a post-Christian society. If you don't know that you need to wake up and smell the roses. We're no longer a Christian society. We are a post-Christian society. If you don't know what that means, national review editor John O'Sullivan, put it this way, "A post-Christian society is not merely society in which agnosticism or atheism is the prevailing fundamental belief. It is a society rooted in the history, culture and practices of Christianity, but in which the religious beliefs of Christianity have been either rejected or worse forgotten".

So here's the question that I wanna raise today. I mean, this is to me the big one. You believe Jesus was raised from the dead means to me. If you do, I believe Jesus raised from the dead. I believe the Bible is God's word and I believe everything in it is true. But most importantly, I believe the tomb was empty. The question now is, okay, now that we live in a post-Christian age, how do we convince our neighbors of that? How do we persuade the nation of that? How do we tell the world that? How do we get the cross to them that the empty tomb has grave significance?

Well, here's the good news. If you brought a copy of God's word, I want you to turn to a book called Acts. It's in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts chapter 17, because that is the burning question that the center of a passage in the 17th chapter of the Book of Acts. There's a man named by the name of the Apostle Paul. His life was radically changed by the resurrection. He absolutely believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead. He's visiting one of the greatest cities in the ancient world, Athens, Greece. And he's sharing the truth of the resurrection.

Now, there's only one difference between Paul and us today. We live in a post-Christian world. He lived in a pre-Christian world, but the challenges were exactly the same. Nothing really has changed since 2000 years ago because just like the cities of today, Athens was filled with people who worship false gods or no gods at all. So here's this one man. He wants to bring the sunshine of Easter into the darkness of a lost city, Athens, Greece. And he shows us why the empty tomb has such grave significance. And he tells us, this is so brilliant. This is one of the greatest passages in the Bible. He shows us how we can talk to anybody today post-Christian world. They can have a PhD, they can dig ditches. He can be the president of the United States or the President of the PTA, it doesn't matter. This is how you can effectively witness to a post-Christian world.

Three quick things, number one. We must communicate to the world with reason. We must communicate to the world with reason. Now, I want to go back in time to one of my favorite places in the world, Athens, Greece. We pick up the story Acts 17. "While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols". Go to Greece with me. Here's what you'll see. Athens will take your breath away. It is one of the most beautiful cities you will ever lay your eyes on. And in the center of the city, there's this little small mountain, it's called the Acropolis. And it's where the Parthenon says, the Parthenon was a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and it overlooks the entire city.

Now, the Parthenon was built 400 years before Jesus was even born. But architects to this day still say maybe the most perfect building ever built in the history of the world was the Parthenon. It is an architectural wonder. It is absolutely gorgeous. So I want you to imagine you're Paul. And you walk into this city for the first time and you realize this city has everything. Ornate temples, glorious artwork, magnificent buildings, sublime sculptures, brilliant philosophers, outstanding orators, spectacular scenery. It was the cultural and the intellectual center of the Roman Empire. It was Hippocrates, the man who founded modern medicine. It is where Socrates taught Play-Doh. It is where Plato taught Aristotle. It is where together they developed the cradle of the basis for philosophy and logic.

Even today, Athens is still called the cradle of democracy. If you know your American history, much of our government was formed on the model that they built in Athens, Greece. And you would think Paul was just breathtaking. You would just think Paul was just going, I can't believe I'm in Athens. But that wasn't what he felt. He was greatly distressed because what he saw was a nation full of idols. That word in the Greek language is the only time it's ever used in the Bible.

As a matter of fact, that word's never found in any other Greek literature anywhere. It is unique to the New Testament. And what the word literally means, it literally means to be under idols. When Paul looked at Athens, he didn't see the artwork, he didn't see the sculpture, he didn't see the architecture. He didn't see the beautiful buildings. What Paul saw was a city underwater of idols in a swamp of idols, drowning in idols. As a matter of fact, every public building in ancient Athens was dedicated to some god or some goddess. One ancient citizen said this, listen to this. "It is easier to meet a god in Athens than to a man".

You know how many people lived in Athens back in Paul's day? 10,000. You know how many statues they had dedicated to a god? 30,000. So for every person in the city, there were three statues that was dedicated to a god. Now you may say, "Well, I don't understand. Why are you talking to us about idols? I mean, man, we live in the 21st century". I got news for you. Idols are not limited to priv to society. We are living in a nation today that's absolutely full of idols. They may not be visible, but they are obvious.

Lemme tell you what an idol is. And idol is just another word for a God substitute. So if you wanna know what an idol is, let me give you my definition. Anything that you love more, serve more, trust more, believe in more and worship more than God, that's your idol. It could be your job. It could be money. It could be your health. It could be your children. It could be your family. It could be sex. It could be your spouse. Anything that you love more, worship more, serve more than God. That is an idol. And I gotten used for you. Things don't change. We worship many of the same idols they worshiped 2000 years ago. We just changed the names. We worship the God of fame, fortune, power, sex, food, alcohol, drugs, family, pleasure, happiness. The list goes on and on.

Now, watch this. What does Paul do? Paul does not make the mistake I've seen some preachers make in my day. You know what some preachers would've done in Athens? They'd gotten up with fire coming outta their eyes and they said, "Turn or burn". Did you like that? I worked on that all week. I mean, come on, gimme some love here. Paul didn't do that. This guy knows what he's doing. Does he immediately begin to rebuke them? No. Scold them? No. Does he say you dummies? You PhDs? What do you mean worshiping a piece of rock? Have you lost your mind? You don't worship stone mountain. He didn't do that. Not at all. He didn't really care what they believe or the way they lived. You know what he does is brilliant.

Watch what he does? What's that word? He reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happen to be there. He just said, "Hey guys, let's reason. Listen, you guys are thinkers let's think. You guys like to talk stuff, let's talk stuff. You guys are philosophers, let's talk philosophy. Let's talk region". 'Cause philosophy is the love of wisdom. Let's talk, let's just reason. That word gives us the word dialogue. It means to think things through, calculate, consider.

See, he says, okay guys, I'll tell you what, I won't meet you halfway. I'll meet you all the way. I'm gonna come over to where you are. This is important. Paul did not start with where he was. He didn't even start with where he wanted them to be. He started with where they were. He's okay, let's just reason together. Let's bring reason, let's look at the evidence. Let's examine the facts. Let's see what best fits reality and truth. Because lemme tell you what Paul understood. I'm gonna make a very bold claim. Can I tell you one of the reasons among many, I'm a Christian. Can I tell you why I am 100% sold on Christianity? Because Christianity best accounts for the evidence for the world that we live in and the life that we have. It is the most reasonable worldview to accept. It is the most likely to be true.

So let make a statement that may shock you. Christianity is not true because you believe it. You ought to believe in Christianity because it's true. I don't have a blind faith. Let's get something out here. Well, you Christians just live on blind faith. I don't live on blind faith. My faith is based on the solid rock of historical empirical evidence that there was a man named Jesus. He was crucified, the tomb was empty. And the only good explanation is that guy came back from the dead. That's why I believe in Christianity. it is a completely reasonable belief.

Now, the only reason you don't believe in Christianity is 'cause it's true. Because listen to this. If Christianity is true, just think with me for a moment. Let's just say I'm lying. Let's say we're right about Easter. If Christianity is true, it doesn't affect some things. It doesn't even affect most things. It affects everything. C.S Lewis put it this way. "Christianity is a statement which if false is of no importance and if true of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important". So lemme make it clear. It is not enough for me and I've never said, you ought to believe in Christianity because it's true. No, here's what we need to do. We've gotta show people the reasons to believe Christianity is true and why it is entirely reasonable.

So I want you to notice now where Paul begins, and this is the way you can do this with anybody. You can do this with a graduate from Harvard, Yale, a guy with a law degree, a guy with a philosophical degree, an expert in logic. You can do this with anybody. He says, "Look, let's just reason this out". Now watch what he does. This is brilliant. Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said, remember he's talking to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, all these brilliant guys, "People of Athens. I see that in every way you're very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship and this is what I'm going to proclaim to you".

Now here's the good news. These people were very religious. The city was filled with god. Let's do this. I didn't know this. The Roman calendar, are you ready for this? The Roman calendar had 150 religious holidays. I'd like to be Roman, wouldn't you? Just think about this, every other day it's party timing. That's what they said. Every other day religious holiday. As a matter of fact, get this. Do you know what the Romans called Jews and Christians? They called them atheist. So atheist, you know why? You know what they said? You only believe in one God. Why would you limit yourself? We've got all kinds of god. So if Paul says, "Okay, I've got some common ground here". You are religious.

So if Paul does this brilliant thing, he says, okay, with respect and great thought, let me begin to build this bridge. So here look what he does. I can tell you how great this is. He's going around the city and he sees this altar and it says one altar that says to an unknown god. Paul goes, perfect, perfect. He said, "By the way, you guys, you're intellectually brilliant. You are educationally advanced. You are philosophically astute, but you are spiritually clueless". He said, "Here you are. You're worshiping a god you don't even know". And so Paul goes right to the basics and starts at Christianity was on 101. And what's what he does? He says, "You worship a god you don't even know.

Let me tell you a God you can know. Let me tell you a God that knows you. And let me tell you about a God that wants you to know them". So what's what He does? So simple. He tells them two things about this God. He says, number one, He is a creating God. He's a creating God. Here's what he said. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. He's not served by human hands as if he needed anything. Rather He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else".

The Hebrew word, by the way, the Greek word for world is the word cosmos. He says God is the creator of the cosmos. So Paul says something to these brilliant PhDs they had never heard before. He said, "I got news for you. You are not a cosmic accident. You didn't just happen to get here. There is a God that created you. There is a God that made you. There is a God that created the world that you live in". He said, "This world's not a cosmic accident and neither are you". And what he said was this, "Hey boys, listen to me. Hey girls, listen to me. Don't worship a god you created in your image. Worship the God that created you in His image".

There is a God you can know. He said, "Look, boys, two things did not happen by chance. The world we live in and the you that lives in this world, it didn't just happen. You've heard this before and it's true. Brilliant philosophy. You see a turtle on the fence post. He didn't get there by himself. Neither did you. Neither did I. Your life has meaning. Your life has value. Your life is of eternal significance because God created you. And God created this world for you to live in. He is the creating God".

And then he says, "Lemme tell you something else. He's the controlling God". He says this, "From one man He made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth. And He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lambs. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him. Though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being as some of our own poets have said, 'we are his offspring". He says, "Boys, I got news for you. This God doesn't live in a rock. You can't put this God in your temples. But He's not just a God that's up there. He's a God that's down here. It's in Him we live. In Him we move. In Him we have our being".

It's a little by the way. He is in total control of this universe. He is in charge of every single square inch of this earth. He is the God of history. He is the God of geography. He knows when you were born, he knows where you were born. He knows who you were born to. He knows who you are when you were born. And by the way, not only does He know that. He determines who owns what piece of property. He determines what nation controls what territory. He's not just the creator of everything. He is the Lord over everything He has made. And we live in moving Him and have our being. And this God is anywhere. This God is everywhere. Just open your eyes and look. And there's this creator God and there is this controlling God.

And he says, "It is reasonable to believe that just like your house was built by somebody and your car was built by somebody, this world was created by somebody. And this somebody is the God. That didn't just create you and doesn't just control you. He wants to love you". You talk about they're just going, never heard this in my life. It's so simple. We must communicate to the world with reason. But then Paul tightens the screws. And the second thing, and you'll understand why now.

Second thing we have to do is we must call the world to repentance. You just don't communicate the world will reason. Okay, I'm buying what you say. Okay, there's the God. Yep, there's only one God. Yep, and that God created me. Yep, that God controls me. Yep, that's right. Yeah, well okay, I'm buying what you're saying. Okay. Then I got something I gotta tell you. So here's what Paul does. Watch this. Where's the first thing he goes when he talks to these people? To the mind, right? But now he shift gears. It's okay, let's put the mind aside. Let me talk to your heart. Let's get to the heart of the matter. 'Cause the matter of the heart is the heart of the matter. And now you got these brilliant, intellectual, educated, eloquent thinkers and scholars and speakers and brother, they're about to hear a word they have never heard before. And they're about to hear a challenge like they've never been challenged before.

So if Paul has just said to them, I hate to break the news to you, but you've wasted a lot of money on all these statues 'cause they're all just a bunch of rock. They're all faults, they're all idols. There's not enough power in them to blow your nose. And you may as well quit believing in them because they're all faults, dead lifeless idols. There's only one true God. The creating God, the controlling God who owns and rules everything. And then he says in light of that, then he throws down the gauntlet. Watch this. Therefore, what do you mean therefore? Since there is only one God that created you to control you. "Therefore says we are God's offering, we should not think the divine being is like gold or silver or stone and image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance. But now He commands".

How many people? Where? To what? To repent. He says, let me tell you something fellas, ladies. There is no unknown God. There is a God that created us. That we all can know. And the time for overlooking ignorance is over. And I came to tell you Athenians today as I've come to tell you Americans today, there is a God who has made a universal demand of every person in every place and every time until the end of time. And that demand is in one single word. Repent. Now I know when I say that word, some of you watching even me on TV right now, you're going, I ain't heard that word in 50 years 'cause nobody uses it anymore. In fact, people make fun of it. Yeah, these preachers say repent. Well the very first word Jesus ever preached was repent.

And by the way, do you understand what repentance is? A lot of people don't. So just to be clear, repentance is not like the person I read about the other day that felt guilty and he sent the IRS an anonymous letter with a check in it for $150. And this is the letter that he wrote to the IRS. "I have cheated on my income taxes and I'm sorry, here's a check for $150. If I can't sleep, I'll send you the rest". That's not repentance. Repentance is not being sorry for your sin. Repentance is being sorry enough to quit it. God says, "I call everybody everywhere to repent". So why is Paul calling the Athenians to repentance? Again, this is so brilliant. He doesn't even mention their immoral actions. Even though there was enough immorality in that city to sink a battleship. You understand most every temple had prostitutes.

And the reason why men love to go to church is because that's when they went there to have sex with prostitutes. That's one way to get a crowd. We're not gonna do that. I'm just telling you that's what they did 2000 years ago. Paul didn't even mention that. He doesn't talk about their intellectual arrogance. Paul could have said, you bunch of PhDs, you're a bunch of dumb idiots. You got a PhD and you can't even figure out, you don't need to worship a rock. He didn't do that. Nope, he didn't talk about their intellectual arrogance. He doesn't talk about their immoral actions. He goes right to their idolatrous attitude. It's no coincidence. The first two commandments of the 10 commandments.

You know what they deal with? Idolatry. God knows what He's doing. It's not an accident that the very first commandment said to all of us, "Don't you ever have any other God before me". It's not a coincidence, He followed that up and said, "Oh by the way, while we're in the same neighborhood, don't ever have an idol, don't have any grieving image". Why did He do that? Because He knew that's the first two commandments every one of us break. And I got used for all of us in this room. Every one of us have broken those two commandments. Every single one of us. He says, "Don't you have any of the gods before me? Don't make for yourself any other idols". And yet those two commandments have 100% record. They have all both been broken by every human being who has ever lived. And that's why every human being needs to repent.

So I wanna make this as very clear as I can. And I wanna be very honest. And I'm not trying to run anybody off. But I won't be surprised there's some of you after today you'll say, "Yep, I think I found a church I don't want to go to". 'Cause lemme tell you where Christianity begins. Christianity does not begin with God loves you just the way you are. Now He does. But that's not where Christianity begins. Christianity does not begin with, Hey, you're okay. God's okay. I'm okay, we're all okay. Let's sing "Kumbaya" and go to the varsity. That is not what Christianity, that's not where it begins. Whether out of ignorance or arrogance, this is where Christianity begins. You need to turn from your sin.

In any form, whether it be idolatry or immorality or both, Christianity begins with this word. You wanna become a Christian, you've gotta repent of your sin and you've gotta repent from your sin. And let me tell you why. You can come to church on Easter Sunday or every Sunday. You can get baptized so many times that tadpoles know your social security number. You can do your religious chants and you can give your money to a charitable organization. And you can do all the good deeds you can possibly muster. But where there is no repentance, there is no redemption. Where there is no repentance, there is no redemption. I've said it a thousand times, if your religion hasn't changed your life, you better change your religion.

When I got saved as a nine year old boy, I didn't understand. If you'd said to me what is repentance, I wouldn't known what the word meant. But I knew what I needed to do. Even as a nine year old boy, I knew I needed to turn away from what I was and turn to what God wanted me to be. And that was Paul's point to these Christians, these Athenians. And so, by the way, I know some of you know this, you come here, I'm just not in the politically correct school. And my goal is not to be personally popular. We must call the world to repentance.

And by the way, if you're one of those people that may be sitting there silently saying, "You don't even know me. You don't even know what a great person I am. I mean I'm here, aint I? I give money to charity and I've never robbed a bank and I've been faithful to my wife and I'm good to my kids. I don't even beat my dog". I can tell you this. I don't care what else you've done. If you have never turned to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith, in salvation, given Him your life as you're saving your Lord, you need to repent. We are must call the world to repentance.

Second thing. Here's the last thing I'm done. So how do you confront a post-Christian world pastor, how do you do it? I don't care if you dig ditches or you teach at Harvard University. I'm gonna take the same approach. Number one, I'm gonna communicate with you with the reason. Let's just reason together. You wanna believe that you just evolved. You wanna believe all this just happened. That's okay. I'm just gonna say this and I'm gonna move on. We got kids gonna graduate from high school. You're gonna go off to a secular university. They're gonna teach you some of this stuff. Gonna teach you, oh, we just evolved. We just came this, it was all just by chance. It all started with muck and then we just somehow got here. You have the right to choose what you believe.

I wanna make that plain. You do not have the right to choose the consequences of your beliefs. And if that's what you believe, here's what you just said, your life has no meaning. Your life has no value. Your life is no more valuable than a cockroach if you just got here by chance. I choose not to believe that. I choose to believe my life means something. Both here and in eternity. I believe there's a God that made me and a God that created me. And a God has a plan for me. In fact, I believe I'm fulfilling that plan right now standing on this platform. So I believe that. And I believe that for you. And I believe that for us. So we must communicate with the world with reason. We must call the world to repentance.

Here's the last thing and I'm done. We must confront the world with the resurrection. Now what's this. How'd this entire discussion get started back then? I mean, Paul's in this debate, he's in this. I mean they're going at it tooth and tongue. How did it all get started? Watch this. "A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, 'what is this babbler trying to say?'" That's what some of you tell me right now. What is this babbler trying to say? "Others remarked. He sees me advocating foreign gods". Now what's this, this is so brilliant. "They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection". You just got to love that.

Here's Paul talking to all these brilliant, educated, erudite, intellectual philosophers and scholars. And what's he doing? He's not waxing eloquent. He's not using $45 words. He's not saying something fancy or profound. He's sayings things that a nine year old boy can understand. There was a man named Jesus just like you, but he was perfect. He was the son of God and he died on the cross and he came back from the grave. He's alive right now. So you have a relationship with him and if you'll trust him, you'll be saved, end of story. That's all he did. They say, wait a minute, why would Paul do that? Because he understood something. Paul gets it and I get it. This is what all of life boils down to for every person who ever lived. 'Cause I wanna tell all of you watching on TV, some of you'll be watching this in Israel, some in France, some in Paris, some of you watching right here in Atlanta, Georgia.

Everybody has to answer this question. Is the message of Easter true or false? You've gotta answer that question. You can't walk everywhere. No, you gotta make up your mind. 'Cause I'm gonna say something I've said before. If Jesus Christ is not alive, nothing else really matters. But if Jesus Christ is alive, nothing but that really matters. And I say this to anywhere, anytime, any place to anybody that will listen. If you're one of those people and this is kind of popular today. You know I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual. Okay, that's cool. So you're on a spiritual journey. Yeah, I'm on a spiritual. I'm looking for spiritual truth. Yeah, I'm looking for spiritual truth. Can I just make a suggestion?

If you're really looking for spiritual truth, the first place you better start is the empty tomb. The first place you better start is the resurrection of Jesus. The first thing you gotta make up your mind is either that guy is still dead as four o'clock or he is alive right now. That's the best place to start. You know one of the reason why I love Christianity, it is the only falsifiable religion in the world. Because Christianity depends upon certain facts being absolutely true. In effect, you can be a Muslim if Mohammed never existed. You can follow the philosophy of Confucius if we Confucius never existed. You can't do that with Christianity. Christianity depends upon certain facts that you cannot deny. Because if Jesus didn't live or he wasn't crucified, or most importantly he wasn't raised from the dead, I got news to you.

Christianity's not just fraudulent, it's irrelevant. It means absolutely nothing. And don't take my word for it. Tyler VanderWeele is a Harvard professor. A world expert on the mental and fiscal benefits of religion. He believes that Christianity is the best worldview and it provides the best template for understanding what's real and what's right. This Harvard professor said this. "Any educated person should at some point have critically examined the claims for Christianity and should be able to explain why he or she does or does not believe them".

So you're one of those people and we've got them in this room. And some of you I know who you are. You're not a Christian. You are not where we are. You haven't bought into the empty tomb. You've not bought into the risen Lord for whatever the reason. You owe it to yourself to at least look yourself in the mirror and ask this question, why haven't I? Why am I not a believer? Why am I not a Christian? Lemme tell you why. There's even more at stake to whether or not a person believes in the resurrection of Jesus and the Jesus resurrection. There's more at stake than whether you just believe that or not. Because this good news about Jesus also has some very grave news. It's something we don't ever think about when we think about Easter because while we come here for Easter, right? Most of you're here 'cause you say, "Look, I believe Jesus is alive. You're preaching the choir man, I'm I bought in. I got stuck in the company. I believe Jesus was racing the dead".

Well that's the good news. But there's also grave news. So what do you mean? Watch this. This is a message you've never heard from an Easter I bet preacher ever. Watch this. For he has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. And He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. I wanna leave that up there for a moment. I want you to watch this. Easter not only guarantees that Jesus is alive, Easter guarantees that one day you're gonna meet God. You're gonna be judged as sure as I'm standing on this platform, as sure as you're sitting in that chair, Easter guarantees one of these days you're gonna meet this God that he talked about, guaranteed. And here's what Paul says. He said, "First of all, it will be a full judgment".

Some of you're attorneys, you're like this. It'll be a full judgment. He says, "I'm gonna judge the world". In other words, nobody gets exempted. Poor, rich, black, white, liberal, Conservative, Republican, Democrat, doesn't matter. Everybody's gonna stand before God. You're gonna stand before God. I'm gonna stand before God. It will be a full judgment. But here's the good news. It's gonna be a fair judgment. He's gonna judge with justice. In other words, no possibility of a miscarriage of justice. No false testimony, no perjury, no mistrial.

All the evidence presented against you are far you will be clear, it will be compelling, it will be conclusive. And then it's gonna be a fixed judgment. He has said a day when he'll judge the world. Ma'am, sir, you have an appointment with God and you're going to keep it. You won't be late. There'll be no postponement. You will have no attorney with you. Just you and the judge. That day, that time has been set. There will be no postponement and no dismissal. And then it will be a final judgment. When the gavel comes down, there is no appeal. There is no higher court, there is no other judge. It will be a fixed, full, final judgment. So the story closes with you and me and the story say, "what do you mean"?

Look at how the people responded to the message. Because I'm gonna share with you three ways. Every one of you in this room's gonna respond to what I just preached this morning. As you would expect, some people just said, no, not buying it. When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered. I'm buying that stuff. Everybody dies, everybody stays dead. Nope, not from me. But then some said, well maybe. But others said, we want to hear you again on this subject. Some said, well let's think about it. But then some said, yes. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed among them was Dianysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris and a number of others.

So now we come to where the rubber hits the road. Where the boy has to sit down and the man has to stand up. The girl has to sit down and the woman has to stand up. You have to decide what's it gonna be for some of you in this room? No, I come every Easter and I say the same thing. I'm gonna walk out this Easter saying the same thing. Not interested, Jesus can keep Jesus to himself. No thanks, not interested. You can do that. Some of you can leave and say, "Well I'm not ready to say yes", but I'll tell you what, I'll give a lot of thought to what you said. Just for your information, that's the same thing as a no. Or you can say yes. This Easter will be like any other Easter. I walked in here without Jesus. I'm not walking out here without Jesus. I walked in here unforgiven. I'm not walking out of here Unforgiven. I walked in here without eternal life. I'm not walking out of here without eternal life.

So I close with this and we're done. And you've been magnificent. According to the NFL, every year at the Super Bowl, they make approximately 300 t-shirts and caps and they make them for both teams 'cause they don't know who's gonna win, right? So they put their name and their logo and the moniker and it says Super Bowl champs. 300 T-shirts for both teams. But what happens to the losing team? 'Cause they didn't win. So this is really fascinating. They take all of that memorabilia and it's immediately locked up and it's mandated never ever to appear or ever be seen on American soil.

What do they do with it? Well, there's an organization called Good360. It's a charitable organization. They give all these t-shirts and caps and stuff to Good360 and they ship them overseas to carefully vetted and needy people around the world. They give them the people that they know. They're so isolated, they're so poor, they'll never ever come to America. So somewhere in the world, there are 300 people walking around that says Cincinnati Bengals Super Bowl champs. They don't even know it. And they walk around so proud. I love the Bengals. But they didn't win. But they don't know that.

I said that to say this. If you're wrong about who won an athletic event, there really is no consequence. But if you're wrong about Jesus, if you're wrong about the resurrection, that is an eternal catastrophe of grave significance. That's one you don't recover from. You walk to a dead end in a road. Normally you can turn around, but if you come to the dead end of your life without Jesus, your end is dead. It's one thing to be mistaken about the Super Bowl. It's another thing to be mistaken about a super savior. So maybe your tipping point take you today from darkness to light and from death to life and from an adulterous love to a resurrected Lord 'cause I've got news for you. Great news, wonderful news, the best news you'll ever hear, the tomb is empty. Jesus is alive. And what you do with both is of grave significance. Would you bear with me right now?
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