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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - What's Next?

Skip Heitzig - What's Next?

Skip Heitzig - What's Next?
Skip Heitzig - What's Next?
TOPICS: Easter, Resurrection

Good morning. No doubt about it. No doubt about it. We serve our risen Lord. Hey, I want to thank you for coming out on this beautiful 35-degree morning. You know nothing keeps you guys away. And that's what I love about you. You are indeed hard core believers. Happy Resurrection Sunday. I have a couple of special guests I just want you to make note of. They're right up there in the front. It's my grandson and my granddaughter, Seth and Katie. They're bundled up. Well, today is Easter, which means tomorrow all those chocolate bunnies are going to go on sale. All those plastic colored eggs are going to go on sale, and also these things. Do you recognize these? These are Peeps.

Now, when I first married my wife several years ago, I discovered that at Easter time she loves Peeps. And I kind of questioned it. I thought, Really, of all the things on earth you could love, it's these? But then, something actually weirder than that came to my attention. She doesn't just love Peeps, she loves them when they're about a week old, when they're crusty, and hard, and really gnarly. So that makes Easter shopping for me really easy. I just wait till about a week after Easter and buy a bunch of these. So if you were to ask what's next in the Heitzig household, we'd give you a one-word answer, Peeps. That's what's next for us.

Now, that question, what's next, is a question that people are asking these days, more than ever before. After terrorism hits places like San Bernardino, California, and Paris, France, and most recently Belgium, the big question on people's minds is, what is going to be next? Then, the elections are coming up. And people in our country are wondering, what's next? And that's a question, by the way, that people ask any time there is a catastrophe. Any kind of catastrophic event causes people to ask the question, what's next? If there's a car accident that happens, well, what's next? Am I going to be able to walk after this? If a disease strikes someone, what's next? Am I going to be cured? If somebody we love dies, we ask, what's next? Am I going to be able to go on?

Five, six years ago, after my wife had her cancer surgery, and the doctor came out of the operating room, and he took off his mask, and he sighed, and he said, I think we got it all, but it was a malignant tumor. And my first question is, what's next? What are we going to do now? And he said, she will need several rounds of chemotherapy. That's what's next. And by God's grace, we've had several more years of Peeps since then. 2000 years ago, there was a catastrophic event outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Jesus Christ, who many believed to be the Messiah, the Savior of the world, was executed. He was crucified on a cross. And the disciples were behind locked doors. And they were asking, what's next? They were hiding, the Bible says, because of fear that they had that they might be arrested next.

Even the enemies of Jesus were asking, what's next, because after all, the Bible tells us they asked for a special guard of soldiers to make sure that nothing happened to the tomb of Jesus or that nobody would steal the body. Because they said, otherwise, the last deception will be first than the worst, or worse than the first deception. So they were all afraid about what could happen next. But today, 2000 years later, we can answer the question, what's next? If we were to take the question they asked 2,000 years ago, we today can answer their question. We can say, I know what's next for Jerusalem, thousands of people will be flooding the streets in a few months that claim to know Jesus Christ. I know what's next for the Roman Empire, Saul of Tarsus will be converted and spread the gospel to the North and to the East, so that by the end of the first century, Christianity will have spread through the entire Roman Empire. And by the fourth century, Christianity will become the official religion of the Roman Empire.

I can tell you what's next for the world. In a couple of thousand years, there will be two billion people who claim to be adherents of Jesus Christ on the earth. That's what's next. The simple question, what's next, can be answered by this, massive expansion is next. But what about on a personal level? What was next for the disciples personally, emotionally? In the Gospel of John, chapter 16, which is what I'm going to read from this morning, the disciples were together with Jesus for their final meal, their last supper together. In a few hours, Jesus would be arrested, he would go through a mock trial, they would sentence Him to death, and He would die. Jesus knew that. He knew what was next, but they didn't know what was next.

But you know, Jesus always knew what's next. He knew that Judas would betray Him. He knew that Peter would deny Him. He knew that the disciples would run away and be confused. He knew all of that. But He also knew that after all of that, there would be for the disciples a living hope, a lasting joy, and a lingering peace. And those are the three personal benefits of the Resurrection. Those three personal benefits can be yours today.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 16, Jesus has His disciples huddled around that Last Supper table. And I'm reading now out of John, chapter 16, beginning in verse 16, "Jesus said, A little while, and you will not see Me; and again, a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father. Then some of his disciples said among themselves, What is this that He says to us, A little while, and you will not see Me; and again, a little while, and you will see Me, and, Because I go to the Father? Therefore they said, What is this He says, A little while? We do not know what He is saying."

I'm so glad the disciples asked that question. I'm so glad the disciples didn't get it, that they didn't understand it. I'm so glad that from time to time even the closest, most intimate followers of Jesus Christ stood around scratching their heads going, huh? What did He say? What does He mean by all of that? In fact, just a few minutes before this account in John's Gospel, same place setting, same time, Jesus said this, "Don't let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go, you know, and the way you know."

And just then, one of his disciples blurted out, we don't know where You're going, and how can we know the way? I love that. You got an honest disciple. He's not just going, amen brother, amen. Let me write that down. That was good. He just said, I don't have a clue what you're talking about. And so I'm glad that these disciples didn't get it at first. It gives me hope. But all of this talk that Jesus was giving to them about his arrest, all of this talk about Jesus leaving them soon, only makes them confused, and depressed, and feeling helpless. But what was Jesus talking about here? He was talking about His upcoming death and Resurrection. Pretty soon you're not going to see Me, that's His death. Then, you are going to see Me again, that's His Resurrection. Something is going to happen, Jesus predicts, that's going to take their hope away from them, but then reignite that hope again.

They're going to have a living hope. That's what happened. Their hopes died when their Savior died. And their hopes were raised back to life when Jesus their Savior was resurrected. That's what Peter meant, by the way, when Peter wrote a little letter. First Peter in chapter 1, he writes, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." What does that mean, a living hope? When Peter said we just don't have a hope, we have a living hope. What did he mean by that?

Well, think of Peter's life, think of these disciples' lives before they met Jesus. They were fishermen, in Galilee. So their day was pretty much like every other day. They get up in the morning, they go to work, and go fishing, they come home. Next day, they get up, go fishing, come home. Next day, get up, go fishing, come home. They did that every single day. There was a routine to it. Life was kind of peaceful. Life was kind of normal. Life was kind of boring.

You say, fishing every day. That's not boring, that's heaven. Yeah, but when you do anything every single day, anything can get boring. In fact, I bet Peter would even come home sometimes at night and wonder, is this all there is to life? Is this all there is, just working, and making a living, and coming home, and going through this rigmarole every single day? But then one day, a man named Jesus stepped into his life and changed everything. One day this man Jesus said, I want you to follow Me, Peter, James, John. I'm going to make you fishers of men. Suddenly, there was a hope that filled their lives. Life took on a whole new complexion. But then one day, something tragic happened. The man that they had hoped and died, was crucified, was killed. And on that day their hopes died with Him.

After Jesus was crucified, He was raised from the dead. But a few of his disciples didn't know that yet. They were on a walk to the town of Emmaus. And as they were walking there, Jesus comes up to them and said, hey, what are you guys talking about, and why are you so sad? They were sad because they said, well, we're talking about Jesus, and we had hoped He would be the One. Listen to their language. They had a past tense hope. They didn't hope in Him, they once had hoped in Him. Their hope was gone. But when Jesus showed Himself alive to Peter, and James, and John, their hope was reignited. Their hope went off the charts. It went ballistic. It made its debut. And it became what Peter said here, a living hope, a living hope.

Why a living hope? Because it means that all the promises Jesus ever made were now true. Anything's possible if the One who said He's going to die and rise again, died and rose again. That means all of the promises Jesus ever made are possible and can come true. That's why it's called a living hope. There are certain promises Jesus made that don't make any sense at all, unless He was raised from the dead.

Here's one, "I am the Resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me will never die." That doesn't make any sense at all if a guy just lives and dies. But the guy who lives, and dies, and rises again from the dead, now that promise makes sense. Or when Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me." Now, every promise about eternal life that Jesus made, made sense. So the first thing Jesus says is coming to them. The first thing that is next for them is a living hope, a living hope. There's a second experience He tells them about, not just a living hope, but lasting joy.

Now listen to His words, "Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, A little while, and you will not see Me; and again, a little while, and you will see Me? Most assuredly, I say to you, You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. And you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow, because her hour has come. But as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for the joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore, you now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you."

When Jesus died on the cross, that was the disciples' worst nightmare. It was the saddest day of their lives. They thought they would never be happy again, after Jesus was killed that day. Like those two on the road to Emmaus, and Jesus said, what are you talking about, and why are you so sad? They were miserable that day. While Jesus was laying in the tomb, there was no joy. There was no victory march. There was no singing. There was only sadness. There was only mourning. But Jesus knew what was next. He knew that their joy would be reignited. And the Bible tells us when Jesus showed up in the upper room again, after he rose, it says, "And the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." That's what Jesus here is saying what is next, "Your sorrow will be turned into joy."

And then, those women, when they left the tomb, it says, "They went away with fear and great joy." What a mixture of emotion they had. So He says, Your sorrow will be turned into joy, converted into joy. Then, He gives a little story to illustrate this. Jesus said, it's like having a baby. And having a baby hurts a lot. Birth is painful. Birth is sorrowful. Birth is distressing. Birth is all-consuming. Am I right, ladies? Carol Burnett once said, men, if you want to know what it's like to give birth to a baby, try taking your bottom lip and stretching it over your head, and you'll get an idea.

And then, men, we go to those Lamaze classes with our wives, don't we? I remember going to those classes. It was the new thing back when we had our son, Nate. And you just go to these classes, and they'll teach you how to breathe, if you're into that. I don't want to ditz it, but I sort of am. Because it just didn't work here. So I'm coaching my wife, come on, Honey. Breathe, breathe, breathe. And I'm smiling and breathing. She hauled off and punched me as hard as she could. I walked out saying, So much for that. But amidst all of the pain and all of the sorrow, once you hear that first cry of that baby, your agony is eclipsed by ecstasy. Your grief gives way to gladness. Your sorrow is replaced with a smile. Jesus said, "Your sorrow will be turned into joy."

Now, I'm generally a joyful person. I'm usually a very happy person. But I have had seasons in my life that were dark. And God had to turn them into joy. It had to be a unique work of God, where He had to turn my sorrow into joy. Maybe you're at that place today. Maybe that describes you. You're in a dark place. You're in a place of shadows. All about you is pain and sadness. You need to get a hold of this truth, that there is a risen, living Christ alive today who loves you. And He can take your sorrow, and He can turn it into a joy like you've never known before, a lasting joy, a real joy.

Now, does that mean if you're a Christian you always have to smile? No, it doesn't. In fact, I'm suspicious of people who always smile. I think they're on something. But joy is an inward condition. Doesn't mean you have to plaster a smile on all the time. It's the inward condition of a soul that's fixed on God. In fact, it's a byproduct of a relationship with God. And it marks every Christian believer.

Billy Sunday, the evangelist from years ago, once said, if you have no joy, there's a leak somewhere in your Christianity. Maybe some of you are leaking a little bit. You need to get a new infusion of joy in your lives. And if you have no joy in your life, it says something about your view of God. It's an admission that you don't believe that God takes care of you, that God doesn't do a very good job superintending your life. Because listen to what Paul the Apostle wrote while he was in prison facing death. He said, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." He wrote that while he was on death row. He thought that he would be executed for his faith.

I read this little article in Christianity Today, and a sentence stuck out to me. It said, "Some people think it's difficult to be a Christian and to laugh, but I think it's the other way around. God writes a lot of comedy, it's just that he has so many bad actors." Hey, don't be one of them. Let your sorrow be turned into joy. So He promises them a living hope. He promises them lasting joy.

And then finally, third, He promises them lingering peace. That's what's next for those disciples. And that can be next for you if you come into a relationship with Christ, a lingering peace. Toward the end of that chapter, same conversation, Jesus said in verse 31, "Do you now believe? Indeed, the hour is coming and has now come, that you will be scattered each to his own, and you will leave Me alone; but I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you may have peace." What things was He talking about? The things He just told them about were these things. He just told them that they're going to be hopeless when He's gone. He just told them that they're going to be sorrowful when He's gone. He just told them that they're going to run away after He dies.

Now, how in the world would these things bring peace to somebody? Hey, you're all going to be hopeless, and sad, and run away. And I just told you that because I want you to have peace. You'd be going, what on earth does peace have to do with any of that? How could that provide peace? Here's how. It shows them He's in control. It shows them He knows what's next, even though they don't know what's next. He knows what's next. In other words, nothing catches Him off guard.

He never says, uh-oh. He never says that word. He never says, oops. He's got it all under control. He knows what's next. And He's always trying to prepare us for what's next. So He says, "Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." Cheer up, boys. It's going to be OK. So what's next for the followers of Jesus Christ? Pain is next. Sorrow is next. Confusion is next. But also, hope is next; and joy is next; and peace is next; all because of the life, death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. All because of that, they can have what He promised, living hope, lasting joy, lingering peace, all because of the Resurrection.

I know, I know some people every time they hear a Resurrection message go, well, how do we know He really rose from the dead? His disciples just wrote that, and people just started believing that. Well, I could actually give you several sermons on why that is the fact, but let me just give you a few reasons why we know.

Number one, because Jesus predicted His death. It's in the historical records that He said He was going to die, and He was going to rise, before it happened, on several occasions. That's how we know. Lots of occasions, including this setting right here in this upper room.

Number two, there were eyewitness accounts. There were independent eyewitness accounts who wrote about, they saw Him individually, or a group of 500 people saw Him at one time. Even the unbelieving historian, Josephus, the Jewish historian, writes about the belief in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

One author that I respect, he's become a friend. His name is Lee Strobel. He was a one time legal reporter for the Chicago Tribune, said, "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best-attested to event of the ancient world." And he said, "I have seen plenty of dead bodies as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, but I never saw anyone come back to life. That's why I was a skeptic about Easter, until my agnostic wife's conversion to Christianity prompted me to spend two full years investigating the historical evidence for the Resurrection. What I encountered turned me from atheism to faith. And what I learned since then has only cemented that decision."

And there's a third reason that we believe it's a literal Resurrection, and that's because of the changed lives of Jesus' followers. Just like Peter who was there and said, we have a living hope, a living hope, a living hope. All of the other followers of Jesus Christ who were skeptical, and in fear, and running away, their lives were changed. They went from cowards to people with confidence. They were willing to die for their faith. And I'm looking around at about 20,000 testimonies, people all around you with changed lives. Ask them how their life has changed, and you will have plenty of evidence. So these three personal benefits of the Resurrection were what's next for the disciples, living hope, lasting joy, lingering peace.

So let me ask you, what's next for you? What's next for you? Do you know what's next? Now, some of you think you can answer that. Yeah, I know what's next. I've got my whole life planned out, man. And I even had that cool little phrase tacked onto the end, and they lived happily ever after. Really? So there was an older gentleman having a conversation over coffee with a younger gentleman. And the older guy said, so tell me, what's next for you? The young man said, I'm going to finish college and get my degree. Old guy said, great. Then what? Well, then I'm going to start my business. Then what? Then, I'm going to get married. That's good. Then what? Then, I'm going to have a family, and raise my family, and grow my business. Then what? I don't know. Then, I'm going to grow old and die. Then what?

You see, then what? What's next after this life? You see, the message of the Bible is that death does not end the existence of anyone. That every single human being will live forever, either in hell or in heaven, and not as a disembodied spirit, but in physical form. Everyone will be raised from the dead and live forever, the Bible teaches us. But you can have a living hope. You can have lasting peace. And you can have that lingering and lasting joy. And you can have more than that. You can have more than those things now experienced on this earth today. Beyond that, you can have heaven. And all of those things, peace, and joy, and hope, will be yours for eternity.

But it all begins here. You are here in this stadium not by accident. You are here by divine appointment. You go, no, I'm not. A dude just asked me to come, and so I'm here. Yeah? Good. But you're here. And we believe you're here because God wants you to hear this message. And He wants you to give your life to His Son who paid the price for you. And we're going to give you that opportunity.

The band's going to come up, and we're going to close in a song. And after we pray, I'm going to ask those of you who have never given your lives to Christ to get up from where you're standing, and to walk out on this field, and pray a simple prayer with me. Even if you have had some spiritual experience in the past, and you might even say, you know, I'm a regular churchgoer. I go to church every Easter and Christmas, so there. But maybe it's not really personal and real for you. Or maybe you wandered away from Christ. You wandered away from a commitment. Today, you are not following Jesus Christ, and you know it. And you've heard this promise of what's next. It could be your "what's next" experience. Living hope, lasting joy, lingering peace, God promises those to you. But they come as a package deal. You have to take His Son, the Savior of the world, who died, and rose, and is coming again. So let's pray together:

Father, thank you for this beautiful day. Thank you for so many who have come out. Thank you for their commitment to this service year after year. And thank you for those who are about to make a stand for Jesus Christ, and say yes to Him personally. We pray, Lord, that you would give them a joy, and a peace, and a hope that never fades, in Jesus' name, Amen.

As we sing this final song, I'm asking those of you who have never made a commitment to Christ, didn't ask you if you're religious, or if you're nice, or you're good-looking, are you sure that if you were to die, you would be in heaven? Are you sure that you're ready to meet God the way you are?" Because if you're not sure, I'm going to ask you to get up from where you're standing, even if you're way up in the very top decks, just to come down the steps, come down the stairs, come out onto this field, and give your life to Christ.

Or if you walked away from Him, you get up and you come and receive Jesus as your Savior, as your Lord. He will give you hope. He will give you peace. He will give you hope and joy. It will be yours. He'll give you forgiveness. He'll wash away your sins. He'll give you forgiveness. And He'll write your name in His Book of Life. But you need to come, and you need to ask Him. It needs to be personal. Everyone Jesus called, He called publicly. So as we sing this song, I'm going to ask you to get up and come down here.

Let's all stand. Let's all stand, and make it easier for them. Encourage them a little bit. Encourage them a little bit. Come on. It's the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do. Don't put it off for another service or another day. Today's your day. It's the right thing to do. Come. Come. Come and give your life to Christ. More are still coming. And we want to give you that opportunity. You keep coming. Come on.

If you're up on the top or way in the corner, God sees you. He knows you. He loves you. And He wants you just the way you are. You don't have to hide anything from Him. You can't hide anything from Him. Just come and say, Lord, make me a new person. Give me a new start. Give me hope. Give me your peace. Fill me with your joy. He'll do it. You come and ask Him.

We'll give you time. You know you need to be here. You didn't come by accident. I still have people every year that say, I gave my life to Christ at an Easter sunrise service. I hope that's you today, if you don't know Him, if it's not personal, if it's not real yet. You may have had a religious or a spiritual experience somewhere along the line, but are you forgiven? Are you on your way to heaven? There's always room. Come on down. There's more room for you. God bless you. Yeah, come on. That's right. You're welcome. Welcome everyone. Real quickly, anybody else? Anybody else? You know you need to be here. We'll wait for you, but you come now.

For those of you who have come forward, we are so happy to see you here. If you came from a sunny spot and you're in the shadows, now you're thinking, I don't know about being here. This is a little colder here. But your heart's about to get warmed up. I want to pray with each one of you. I want you to pray out loud, what I'm going to pray out loud. I'm going to say these words out loud, I want you to say them out loud after me. Say these words from your heart. Say them to the Lord, asking Him to come in and be your Lord. Let's pray. Say:

Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner, and I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe He died on the cross, that He shed His blood for my sins, and that He rose again from the grave. I turn from my past. I leave my sin behind me. I turn my life to Jesus as the Lord and Savior. Help me to follow Him. Help me to obey Him, in Jesus' name, Amen. Amen. Amen.

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