Levi Lusko - Dust and Blood

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As we come to the final study of our creed series, if you have a copy of the scriptures, you can open to Daniel chapter 12. And the title of my message is dust and blood. You know you're Fresh Life when the word blood is in the sermon title on Easter Sunday and your aunt is with you and you're looking at her like, what? And here's, man, dust and blood. Daniel chapter 12, verse two, is going to launch us into our time together this Easter where we find this prophetic statement. Daniel is one of the prophets of the Old Testament who spoke about future events. And the event that he spoke about is future not only to him but still future to us.

So this is something that will take place at the end of time. It says, multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Now as we go through the creed, what we're seeing is the load bearing walls of Christian instruction and teaching and doctrine, the walls that, if you remove these, the whole house comes down. And the creed ends not with a whimper, it ends with a bang as we see these graves exploding. And we're saying, in this last line of the creed, I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. And then the last sentence is amen, amen.

Normally on Easter, you come into church to hear a pastor talk about the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. We're going to mix it up this week, and I want to talk to you about the fact that you are going to rise from the dead. And really, that's the outcome of Easter, not so much the event of Easter. That's the outcome of Easter. But that's the reason Jesus came. You see, the Bible says that he came to destroy him who had the power of death — that is, the devil. And ironically, he came to destroy the one who had the power of death through dying. It doesn't seem to be like a great strategy. I'm going to defeat you. How? By letting you kill me. So like, that's a bad plan. And yet, of course, Jesus had the power to take up his life just as he had the power to lay it down.

So you could say Jesus came to shed his blood. But that's because of the death that he knew was inevitably in front of all of us. And dust is a symbol of death. You see, Genesis chapter three says that dust we are, and to dust we shall return. And we acknowledge this every time at a funeral, we as pastors would say, ashes to ashes and dust to dust. We're acknowledging the fact that we came from dust, that God breathed into our nostrils after forming us from the dust of the earth. And so in going into the ground we return to what we came from.

So dust is a picture of death, and blood is a picture of Jesus' sacrifice that he came to shed. But his death was not a defeat. It was a victory, for as his blood dripped into the ground, it formed a fertilizer by which God would bring us back out of the ground. So you could put it this way. Jesus came to shed his blood so your life could spring up from the dust. Or to get our April 2019 Marvel on, he's like Thanos backwards because when he snaps his fingers, your life will come out of the dust, not returning to the dust.

Come on, somebody. Jesus is going to bring you out of the ground. That's what Daniel prophesied about, and that's what we're going to spend our time considering just for a moment what has been referred to as the living hope of the Christian church. The living hope of the Christian church is the fact that Jesus went into the grave so you could have confidence that you will come out of it. And I want to look at this from four different perspectives, four different angles, in our time together. The first is the perspective of acorns and oak trees. You see, the Bible would have you to understand a burial of a Jesus follower as being very much an acorn going into the ground. That is not the end of the acorn. It's the beginning of an oak tree. It's the end of something, sure, but it's the beginning of something much bigger and much greater. That is to say that death is not the end of the road but a bend in the road.

We describe inaccurately where we choose to bury someone, and that's a difficult decision. You know, one of the most challenging things for us after our daughter passed away was all of the particulars of the funeral. And we knew she was in heaven because the Bible says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. So we knew we were not burying our daughter. Our daughter was with Jesus. We were simply burying a body that she lived in, OK? So you are not your body. You are a soul, and you have a body. You will still be you when you're not in your body. Abraham was still Abraham. Isaac was still Isaac. Jacob was still Jacob. And God said, I'm the God of Abraham. I'm the God of Isaac. I'm the God of Jacob. And he's not the God of the dead. He's the God of the living.

So you are still you one minute after you die. You are still 100 years after you die. You're you in your body. You're you out of your body. You are still your soul. So we knew we were not burying our daughter. We knew we were simply burying this body that we loved to be around. But it was still a difficult decision to think about where to bury her body and looking at different funeral homes and looking at different cemeteries and all of that. And we mistakenly, sometimes we refer to graveyards as our loved ones' final resting place. For no one will the grave be the final resting place. You go to be with Jesus. Your body? What does it do?

Well, it's like in the mafia movies. It takes a dirt nap. Your body sleeps. That's how the Bible would have us understand what happens to our bodies in death. They go to sleep. Lazarus is not dead. He is sleeping. Now he was dead, but his body was simply sleeping in that it was going to be temporary. He was going to reverse it. So a Christian dying is the Christian's body going to sleep and the soul going to be with Jesus. But God promises not just salvation for your soul but also for your body because God cares about your body. He cares about this part of you that is a physical existence.

And so Corinthians says a Christian does not get buried. A Christian gets planted. We plant a body into the ground. What does it say? Our earthly bodies were planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever, buried in brokenness, raised in glory. Buried in weakness, raised in strength. This is what God would have you to understand. It's the victory he unlocked when Jesus rose. That is to say, there's a day coming when Jesus Christ will give the command. At his return, at the shout of an angel, every grave will explode, and the bodies will once again re-clothe the souls. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with the Lord in the air. And we shall always be with the Lord. And we should comfort one another with these words.

So for your loved one who has gone to be with Jesus, don't weep for them. Weep for you that you're not with them. And think of this. They're going to be clothed with their bodies before you and I do. If we're alive when Jesus comes, and if anyone's listening, I'd love to be in that crew. I'd love to not have to die, to just all of a sudden know it's coming. How will you know it's coming? Because you'll start to see graveyards exploding all over the place, right? Acorn today, oak tree tomorrow, so all of a sudden, here's all resurrection. It's like, if you see that happening, take your best Air Jordan post. Get your tongue hanging out of your mouth because it's coming for you. But don't be worried about them who died first. They're going to rise first. Early to bed, early to rise.

And to think of that day should fill us with hope. It should fill us with expectation. It should cause our hearts to leap within us to think of the hope that is ours in Christ. Even though it doesn't look like it, even though it looks like that body is down, it's horrible. Sometimes, it causes your stomach to turn just to think of decomposition, to think of all those things happening. And yet, it's with hope we look at it. Because unless a seed goes into the ground, it dies. It cannot come forth.

The only difference between a graveyard and a garden is what you plant. But the Bible says that God looks at a graveyard like we look at a garden. He sees these things. It's not RIP, Rest In Peace. It's RIP, Raised In Power. That's what's going to happen at the end of the day. And this should fill us with comfort to know that it's not just a resuscitation either. Scripture calls it a resurrection. There's a difference. And that separates what Jesus did when he rose from every other person who ever rose back to life. Because you go, well, Jesus rose. So what? The Bible's full of all kinds of people who rose. Not like him, not like him.

Lazarus is the most powerful example. Jesus stood in front of his tomb and said, roll away the stone. But no one had to roll away Jesus' stone because angels came and did it. Lazarus comes out bound hand and foot in grave clothes. It was like that Brendan Fraser movie "The Mummy". He was like, Imhotep. And then Jesus goes, could someone untie him? Why? Lazarus couldn't untie himself. Not so with Jesus. He escaped through his grave clothes, leaving them there in the tomb. Not like Jesus, there wasn't a resuscitation. Ha. It was a victory, in heaven, celebration, as he defeated the power of death once for all. And he no longer was bound by the laws of nature.

That's how he could appear and then disappear at random. It just shows up. Hey! Ah. The doors are locked. Ha! Didn't bother him much. He could eat, and he did so, proving he was physically alive, proving the resurrection of the body, but also that there was something different about him. So he'd say, touch me. And he would want to prove to them, I'm not a ghost. They thought he was just a resurrected soul. He goes, no. Touch my body. I'm alive. But then he also could fly. Big deal, it was a big deal. What? Now he's flying. That's interesting. That's noteworthy.

Someone speculated that perhaps we'll have as many as 500 senses that we'll use where today, we're only bound by the use of five. To think of heaven as being less real, as less vivid, because the devil wants you to think of heaven as opaque, right? A cloud, a harp, a chant, and that's why Stephen King said, I don't want to go to heaven. Heaven sounds terrible. You know, I don't want to go to that heaven either. But I've read the whole Bible, and there's not a chubby baby naked angel anywhere in the book. So you know what? We can be excited about heaven. What is heaven? Heaven is not just a new you. It's also a new world. For the Bible ends not with us somewhere on a cloud but heaven coming down, the city of God, the throne of God, coming down and fusing to a brand new earth just as your body comes out of the ground, not an acorn anymore. It comes out of the ground an oak tree. Your body is going to be different.

Yes, it's the same body that went in, but it's different. It's different like a tulip. It's different than an ugly bulb that died in the earth. So you're going to come out new, but this world is going to be new. There's going to be a new heaven and a new earth. And we'll get to live and serve and drink and dance and laugh and work and play and party. The whole thing starts with a party that lasts seven years. It's a good deal, right? It's a big deal, and there's going to be a 1,000 year reign of Christ. It's just going to be better and then betterer and betterer. It's like a beater getting traded in for a Rolls Royce, y'all. And Rolls Royce don't need to advertise because we all know it's good. And that's what the Bible promises when we think of the new heaven and the new earth.

NT Wright put it this way. Heaven is important, but it's not the end of the world. It's the beginning of a brand new world, acorns and oak trees. That's what I want you to think of when you think of dying, acorn today, oak tree tomorrow. That's heaven. All right. Secondly, let's talk about this from the perspective of already but not yet. Already, but not yet, there's a tension to all of these things that we're talking about because it's not instantaneous. There's an interval. There's an intermission. There's a delay. There's a gap. And we live today in a space between promise and fulfillment. What we live in today is an age much like the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Jesus had promised to come back. He had promised to rise again. But on Saturday, he hadn't yet. And his body was cold, and that stone seemed heavy. There was a space between. It's a lot like the Old Testament.

Here, ever since the Garden of Eden, God had promised to send his son. But all through the prophetic books, all through the story of the Kings and prophets and priests, all through those days, it was like where is he? Where is he? Where is he? Until he came, and light shined in a dark place. And Jesus had come, and he did die. And then he did rise after that space. And he ascended to heaven saying, I will come again. And all that we're talking about, the resurrection of the body, all of this, is already ours. Why? Because we speak not only of the resurrection of the body but the life everlasting. That, friends, is not just something for then. It's something for now. It's something for now. It's not just a quantity of life, it's a quality of life. In fact, John's gospel puts it this way. What is eternal life? What is everlasting life? It is knowing you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.

Friends, the moment you give your life to Jesus, you become in your spirit a new creation, brand new, fully alive. Everlasting life starts here and now. It's knowing God. It's having God live inside of you. It's having a relationship with God and being the temple of the Holy Spirit awaiting the fulfillment externally of all the things that he's done internally. So we live in the tension of the already but not yet. He's made the promise but hasn't all happened yet. And so we look around to a world that we know is groaning to be made new, a world that's groaning to no longer be afflicted by natural disasters and violence, a world where we know that the child is supposed to be able to dwell near the whole of the snake but not get bitten by the snake, and the snake's not so to worry about the child bashing its head in.

We're believing for a where the lion lives down with the lamb and the bear with the goat and a world full of perfection and not disaster and terror and tyranny and crime and injustice. And so what do we do? We have God in us, but we're not seeing externally the glory of the Lord cover the world like the water covers the planet. What do we do in this already but not yet? We fight. We pray. We build. We sing. We worship. And by faith, we see what eventually we will see with our eyes. And we invite anybody to come in and participate in this kingdom. We beg for God to make it below as it is above, for heaven's touch to be felt on earth. In the tension of the already but not yet, we feed hungry people. We clothed homeless people. We open up computer labs in the Dominican Republic, and we fight to expand our church and all those who are like her can have a place to understand you don't need to cut yourself or make yourself bleed.

Jesus died so you could live. There's meaning to be found. There's hope to be found. There's life to be found in the name of Jesus. And to a world given over to anxiety, in a world looking to an antidepressant to cause the pain to stop, to a world afflicted by eating disorders and suicide, we say Jesus can save you. Jesus can heal you. Jesus can cause you to understand there's a new way to be human. And we model what we see with our eyes of faith what will eventually be this world. We're dual citizens. Our citizenship is in heaven. Our savior is in heaven. We know eventually, it's going to be here. So in the already but not yet, we fight so that more people might understand what it means to be saved and healed and whole. There's a tension to it, the already but not yet.

Now let's talk this Easter for just a moment about legends and longings. Legends and longings, we've already spoken in the series, and maybe you missed it, about how different the gospel is from a legend. A lot of people accuse the gospel, oh, it's just a legend. Yeah, Jesus rising from the dead, yeah, here's what happened. He didn't really rise, duh, because that's impossible. But you know, someone told someone they thought he did. And so much time passed. And eventually, it began to be like a fish story, believed that Jesus rose from the dead. You can't hate them for hoping, right? That's what happened.

And when we look at the creed, we see instantly that this is not the stuff legends are made up. For in a fairy tale, it's once upon a time in a place far, far away. And we open up the creed, and it's like, under the reign of Pontius Pilate, who was the fifth procurator of the area of Judea under the reign of Emperor Tiberius. And it's dated specifically. And the gospel accounts were locked in place while people who were still alive could go look into these things. And so it's very specific. It's very detailed. This is not the stuff legends are made of, but it's the stuff legends are inspired by, not only prior to, but afterwards. And all of us resonate with legends, with heroes' tales. All of us find ourselves kind of like pulled toward sacrifice. I bet you, though I don't know much about you, when you watch a movie where someone sacrifices their life so many people will live, something inside of you says, yes, a hero who is willing to die so that many can live.

Why is there such a pull in our hearts for such a story? It's been suggested that the reason is because God has put all of those echoes into the human race pointing to something that's the larger, truer reality. And it was this that led to the conversion of a man named CS Lewis, of course one of the most brilliant writers and thinkers certainly of the last few hundred years, perhaps of all time, since the apostle Paul himself. He was a professor at Oxford in the 1920s. And many of us know him by his children's books, The Chronicles of Narnia. But he's also written so many books that have sold so many millions of copies. But what is not as widely known as the fact that he started out as an atheist.

And for a long time, he didn't believe in God he didn't believe that life had any meaning. He believed it was all just molecules that smashed together and just random chance. And so there really is no higher power, and life will end in a great burning up of everything just as randomly as it began. So there's no meaning you can find in anything. That's what he believed intellectually. But he admitted that what caused that belief to erode that eventually flowered forth into his giving his life to Jesus Christ, which he described as being a man made of snow but finding the warmth of the sun melting him, feeling at first like a trickle of water down his back, which he hated it when it began, and what really led to his belief in such a cynical, secular humanistic worldview eroding was the way that legends pulled at his heart.

A big part of it was fairy tales. He read the popular stories that you've seen in movies your whole life by the Brothers Grimm that wrote so many of the fairy tales that we know and love and Walt Disney has made popular. And he said, whenever he would read these and whenever he would hear these, something in his heart stirred. And it really bugged him because intellectually, he didn't believe that the things he was feeling were capable of being true. And yet, he couldn't deny that something pulled him at the thought of a God dying to save the citizens of a kingdom.

And so one day, he began to articulate this to a good friend of his by the name of JRR Tolkien, who wrote a little known book called Lord of the Rings. But at the time, neither of them had written any of their famous works, and they were both just two professors at Oxford. One evening as CS Lewis was wrestling with all of this, his friend Tolkien said, Jack, because that's what his friends called him. When he was a kid, he called himself Jacksie. And then as an adult, CS Lewis called himself Jack.

And so Tolkien said, Jack, let's take a walk. And so they took a walk down the streets of the college there in England. And he said, what's your problem with all these myths? He said, well, they're lives. They're lives even though they're breathed through silver lips because none of these things are true. And he said, these myths that you find so abhorrent because they make you feel the way you do, they make you feel longing. They make you feel desire. Later on, CS Lewis, if you want to read more about this, he wrote a book called Surprised by Joy. That's his autobiography of coming to faith in Jesus. And he uses Joy with a capital J as a synonym for beauty meaning truth to salvation and hope. And he found himself wanting those things, but they're not true if we're all just mud that's going to eventually go back to being mud slithering around in the next big bang or whatever.

So he had, I shouldn't care about hope. I shouldn't care about life after death because I know it's not true. And Tolkien said, Jack, what if these things are true, they're just echoes of a larger truth? He goes, what do you mean? He goes, well, what if the way you feel when you watch or read Sleeping Beauty is because this world really is under the spell of someone evil, and things aren't as they should be? He then said, when you read Peter Pan and you're moved by it the way you are, could it be that it's because deep down on the inside, you know we were never meant to grow up and grow old and get sick and die? And what if, Jack, humans were really meant to fly?

He went on to say, when you read Beauty and the Beast and this image of someone so horribly marred and distinguished by their own treachery, self-centered, and wickedness, what if that really could be overcome by this sacrificial love of someone else and we really could change? He said, Jack, these things that are moving you, they're echoes that point to a larger truth. They're little stories that point to the greatest story ever told. And they all find their fulfillment in the birth and the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The reason you feel the way you do reading these stories is not because Jesus is one more story that tells the same thing. It's because all these smaller stories are pointing to the larger story. He said, Jack, there really is a good prince who's come into the kingdom so that his kiss could save us from death's spell. And what you're looking for in these legends is what your heart longs for, and that is to have the ache you can't shake filled with Jesus Christ, the king of kings. Listen to me.

Two weeks later, CS Lewis wrote a friend named Arthur Greaves a letter and says, I have become a Christian largely because of that conversation that evening. And I'm telling you, I don't know what you're looking to. I don't know what you're defined by. But I know this. I know the Bible says we all have eternity in our hearts. And no matter what we try, no matter what we look to, no matter what we turn to, all of us still feel that pull. We still feel that sense that the world is not enough. I was meant for more We all ask the same big questions, don't we? What's the meaning of life? Can I be forgiven of my sins? And is there life after death? And in the name of Jesus, we're given the answer to every single one of those things. What I'm trying to tell you is that all your life, your heart will be restless until you find your rest in him.

Now I want to close our time together with our final perspective, and that is by looking at the connection between eggs and baskets. Eggs and baskets, we're talking about dust and blood. We looked at acorns and oak trees, the already but not yet, the connection between legends and longings. Well, let's end here. Seems fitting. It is Easter. Eggs and baskets, someone's thinking, you should have started with that one. You came in blazing guns with dust an blood, right? You would have made some more friends if you started out with some eggs and baskets.

All, right when you preach the sermon, you can start with the eggs and baskets, all right? We were at an Easter egg hunt yesterday, and my wife had invited a bunch of the kids' friends. And they were about to go look for eggs and get candy, right? Because when you're a kid, all of life is a barrier to you getting candy. They were putting up with everything in order to get some candy. Or it's like, yeah, well, listen. She's like, come in. Come in kids, Come in, kids. And she gathered them all around. It's so cute. She goes, does anybody know what Easter is all about? And someone's like, Jesus. And it's like, yay, good answer. And then she said, but did you know why we look for eggs? And she was going to get to eggs are a symbol of new life and all this. But she made the mistake of going to ancient history. She goes, did you know in the Roman Empire, and all the kids were like, eyes glazed over, you know?

My wife's a sweetheart. She says, in the Roman Empire, they believed bunnies laid eggs. And one of the kids, really well-intentioned goes, bunnies aren't real. And I was like, what are they teaching you? You've been in a homeschooled co-op a little too long there, pal. Bunnies aren't real, so funny. Bunnies are real, actually. No, they don't lay eggs, but the bunnies, it's like, you got to love the Christian kid. Bunnies aren't real. Santa's the devil, you know? Like the real spiritual answer, so good. So eggs and baskets. And the kids all got, you know, eggs in their basket. At the end, I was going around. I was like, how much did you get? I got eight eggs in my basket, you know? They were all excited about the eggs.

Here's where I want to end this conversation. I just want to ask you, what basket are you storing your eggs in? The problem, I suppose, if there really is one, with storing all of our eggs in this life, having our portion in this life, is that you can't live forever on this earth. You're going to die unless Jesus returns in your lifetime. And if you're worth, if your value, if your identity is tied up in anything in this life, what's your plan? 1920, Great Depression, 2008, when the economy really buckled, there were a number of high profile suicides, people who lost billions and millions in a moment and now had no reason to go on because their eggs were in this basket.

If you have your identity wrapped up in your skiing career or you playing football or you're modeling, your YouTube following and your 1 million subs, what do you do when it all collapses? What do you do when you find out you've been building a sand castle at the edge of the sea? There's no hope. There's no power. Even if you achieve success and you build that huge company, millions of dollars, great, great, great. But then what? Is life really a quest to be the richest man in the cemetery?

There was a man named Job, and he was the richest man in the ancient far east. His money was tied up in the stock market the livestock market. And he even diversified his portfolio. He had goats. He had cows. He had pigs. I don't know if he had pigs, but, kosher, right? Thank God for Jesus. Now we eat bacon, right? So good. So there was a day when a servant came to him and said, we lost all the goats. Marauders came, and that was taken out. Then, soon as that servant was leaving, another one, another one, another one. Basically his entire net worth was wiped out. He lost it all. And no sooner had the last servant reported to him of what he had just lost when another servant came in, evident tears streaming down his face, to report that Job's 10 children had died in an event that took place when they were feasting at one of the son's house, his seven sons and three daughters. The roof collapsed and they all died.

And as that was being communicated, Job's health quickly fell. He ended up deceased, sick. He had no money to seek out medical attention. The story of Job takes place with him sitting by the end on a dump, on an ash dump. He was sitting on garbage, penniless, destitute, bankrupt. His wife comes to him and says, you should just curse God and die. There's no point in life anymore. And he's like, thanks, honey. That's great advice. When you start reading the story of Job, you'll be like, God, why didn't the devil take his wife out? And then she talks, and you find out why he left her alive. She was on his team. His friends come. They have nothing good to contribute.

And this picture of Job is a person who's had every possible thing on this earth you could look to to have your eggs in the basket of. It's all been taken away. And when Job opens his mouth to speak, he shows us how in the midst of devastation, loss, and suffering, he has maintained a heart of worship and blamelessness before God. For he says, this is what gives me hope. He says, I know that my redeemer lives. And he shall stand at last on the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know: that in my flash, in a body that gets buried, in that body when I live in it, again I shall see God.

Listen to me, friends. Death is one of two things. It is either leaving home or going home depending upon where you store your treasure. And by the end of the book, Job, it was all a test. He didn't know it at the time, but it was all a test. God gives him twice as much as he ever had. He gives him twice as many goats, twice as much money, twice as much property, and he gives him 10 more kids, twice as much of everything but not twice as many more kids. Why? Because he did get twice as many kids. The 10 children that died were still very much his, so he didn't need 20 kids. He just needed 10 more because all 20 of those children were still alive, and he knew he would see them again.

And so I ask you: your eggs in this world's basket, or are they in God? Is your citizenship in heaven? Is your savior in heaven? Is your life in heaven? And if not, would you like it to be? What I'm asking is this. Would you like to give your life to Jesus Christ? Now whether or not you do, whether or not you ever believe, and if you're here and you're a skeptic, if you're here and you don't know, if you're an agnostic or if you even call yourself an atheist, we welcome you here. Thank you for being here. This is a safe place to explore what it means to follow Jesus. This is not a place where you have to believe in order to belong.

We welcome you into our home regardless of what you believe. But let me say this to you. I wouldn't be faithful to scripture if I didn't. If by the end of your life, even if you don't believe in Jesus, you too will live forever. Death is not going to be the end of the road for you. It's a bend in the road. But where death greets us, the road forks. And there is not just a road that leads to life. There's also a road that leads to shame and contempt, Daniel said. All will rise: some to life and some to everlasting contempt.

And what Daniel the prophet alluded to, Jesus, the one who rose, confirmed when in John's gospel, the fifth chapter of the 28th verse, he said, do not marvel at this, for I tell you the hour is coming in which all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come forth: those who have done good to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil to the Resurrection of condemnation. What Jesus is saying is, yes, there's a heaven, but there's also a hell. He spoke about it often, not because he takes any joy in it, but because he knows it's a real place and doesn't want anyone to go there. But the choice is set before you.

The $1 million dollar question with all of eternity hanging in the balance is, how do you go to heaven and not hell? How do you be forgiven of your sins? Because conventional wisdom says, well, you've got to do more good than bad because good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. The answer has nothing to do with good things you do but everything to do with the good thing that Jesus did and whether you believe. In fact, Jesus said that clearly in verse 24 of the same passage when he said, I say to you most assuredly that whoever hears my word and believes in him who sent me has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment but has passed from death into life. The already but not yet, the moment you put your faith in Jesus, you are saved. You are sealed. You are secure in your salvation. God comes to live in your heart, forgives you of every sin you've ever committed not because you deserve it, but because Jesus died in your place on the cross.

And today in your hearing, I'm telling you there is salvation and hope. And forgiveness is possible through the name of Jesus. We're going to end with an invitation for anybody who here today hears this message and would say, I sense, I feel almost a pull towards salvation. I feel like I need to get my heart right with God. We want to end with an opportunity for you to do what so many thousands of people have done in the 12 years of Fresh Life Church. That is come to Jesus and be forgiven and be set free. And our prayer, our hope, our team, the reason we've put this on is so that many of you would have that exact experience in this moment. So would you pray with me?

Jesus, We thank you for what you've done for us. We don't celebrate Fresh Life. We don't celebrate ourselves. We celebrate you and what you're doing that's given us life. Thank you for coming out of that grave so we could come out of ours.

With our heads bowed, our eyes closed, I first want to speak to the church, to those who are saved. You're following Jesus, but you just hearing this message want to just renew your love for God. You want to renew that and really just say, I affirm this creed. I say my amen at the end of it. if That's you I'm describing and you just want God to help you to fight in this already but not yet, for more people to know him, that you're saying, I want God to give me a greater love for him and for people.

If that's you I'm describing in church, could you raise your hand up, just saying I respond to this message, I respond to that tension? Help me to love well. Help me to serve well. Help me to have a longer temper, more patience, more grace. Thank you, Jesus. Fill us with your spirit. Help us to run and grow weary, to walk and not faint. Refresh our hearts, God, as we renew our surrender to you. You can put your hands down.

I now want to speak to those of you who are sensing God call you to open the door of your heart to begin this journey of faith, to make that decision like CS Lewis did, to begin to follow Jesus, to let him come into your heart. You might have questions. That's OK. You might have doubts. That's fine. But come to him. Come to him with your pain. Come to him with your sin. Give him your heart. You watch him make your heart sing. And as we're praying with heads bowed and eyes closed, I'm going to say a prayer. And if you're ready to turn to Jesus, I want you to say this prayer out loud after me. Mean it in your heart, and God will hear you.

Dear God, I know I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself. But I believe you can. I give you my life. In Jesus' name, I pray.

Are you Human?:*