Support us on Paypal

Skip Heitzig - Come Alive

Skip Heitzig - Come Alive
Skip Heitzig - Come Alive
TOPICS: Easter, Resurrection

Let me begin by saying Happy Easter, or I should say Happy Resurrection Weekend. You know, we are celebrating the greatest event of human history. That is Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins rose again from the grave, which means he's alive right now. And there's no virus in the world that is going to stop the Christian from celebrating the resurrection. It might stop us from getting together in large groups, but we're able to get together like this.

And we're glad you joined us for this broadcast. You might be watching on television. You might be watching on your phone or on your computer. But we want to welcome you to this service. We're doing this one from our Westside campus foyer. We have four campuses in the state of New Mexico, and we want to welcome you to this service.

A few hours ago, I spoke with the governor of the state of New Mexico. She called to thank me and to thank you, our congregation, for the way we are celebrating Easter this year, taking all the extra precautions of social distancing, and disinfecting, and watching out for one another, showing love to one another. So she called to say thank you. I returned by saying thank you for what you are doing, and I told her we would be praying for her and our government officials going forward. And I also wanted to thank her for supporting what we're doing on Sunday with a drive-in church at our campus for two services. And we can't wait for that.

We're so glad you joined us, and I'm going to be bringing a message today called Come Alive out of the book of Ephesians chapter 2. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fairy tale, or it's the most notable, the most joyful, and the most hopeful fact of history. It's one of those two. It's either false or it's real. And if it's real, it brings real hope.

Now the idea of a resurrection honestly sounds ridiculous because people once they die, they don't get back up. Normally, you just don't ever see that happening. And that's why skeptics throughout history, including a guy by the name of David Hume, who had a huge influence on philosophers afterwards said, all miracles, including a resurrection, can only mean one thing, that the person who believed it happened is deceived. So he doesn't believe in the resurrection at all.

A lot of people find trouble with this great fact of history. There was once a little boy at school. And the teacher was telling them about the Christian belief in the resurrection, that Jesus died, but then after death, he got back again from the dead and lives. And he was a four-year-old son of an undertaker who raised his hand and he said, if my daddy would have worked on him, he never would have gotten up. But that's not the truth. Jesus got up anyway.

Now there have been several stories throughout history of resuscitation, that people had near-death experiences, that they died, and then minutes later they revived, that they came back to life. That's called the Lazarus phenomenon. A person can die, and then cardiac activity can begin some minutes later. But experts tell us that anything over 20 minutes will cause irreparable brain damage. So for a person to come back to life days later, not minutes later but days later, in Jesus case, three days later, defies natural law. But the entire framework of Christian belief rests upon a physical resurrection. Christianity is, at its heart, a resurrection religion, even though it's not really a religion. It's a relationship with God. At its very core is the resurrection of Christ.

Arnold Toynbee, British philosopher and historian, said find the body of that Jew and Christianity crumbles into ruins. Paul the Apostle would agree with him. For Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still under the condemnation for your sins. If we have hope in Christ only for this life, then we are of all men most miserable. So why is it we believe this idea, this truth that Jesus rose from the dead? How can we believe that? Well, I'll go through a few quick reasons and then jump into the text.

Number one, most scholars agree that the tomb of Jesus Christ was empty shortly after his death. Jesus died on a cross, was taken down, was placed in a tomb. They put a huge stone over the entrance to that tomb. They set a Roman guard, a group of men to guard it. And all of the theories like the body was stolen, or they went to the wrong tomb, or the body just swooned, Jesus just fainted and swooned and then got up and was revived. All of those are unsatisfactory explanations.

Some years ago someone wrote to a newspaper and to the advice column and said, our preacher said on Easter that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think? Signed Bewildered. Somebody wrote back, dear, Bewildered, beat your preacher with a cat o' nine tails with 39 heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens. He's not going to come back, but Jesus came back. And most scholars believe that that tomb once occupied by Jesus was empty shortly thereafter.

Second reason, there were eyewitnesses, both individuals and groups, who saw him and attested to the fact that they saw him alive. Fact number three, many of those eyewitnesses, including the apostles who were close to him who disbelieved at first in the resurrection, not only came to believe it, but they died for it. They were martyred. Now, listen, some people will die for a good idea. But unless you are convinced that that idea is true, you won't die for it. The fact that they were martyred believing in the resurrection shows they believed it with all their heart. They were convinced.

And number four, Jesus predicted in advance that he would die and be raised from the dead three days later. He said that not once but on several different occasions. So we believe it happened. Now in Ephesians chapter 2, Paul describes what happens to a person who gives their life to Jesus Christ, who comes to believe in him. And he uses a metaphor for of the resurrection, that is, life from the dead. And just as miraculous as Jesus once dead coming back to life, it's just as awesome when God gets a hold of a human being and changes them. It is no less miraculous.

So in these verses, he describes the past, the present, and the future of a person who has a relationship with God. It could be summed up in three words, wandering, walking, watching. So we're going to look at the past, present, and future. And if you're a believer in Jesus Christ, this is your life. First of all, your past.

In verse 1 of Ephesians 2 Paul said, "and you he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath just as others." That's your life past tense. You were dead. You were wandering from God.

You once walked according to the course of this world. In other words, you were before Christ the walking dead. You were spiritually deceased. You were born on planet Earth DOA. That's what they used in the medical terminology, dead on arrival. You were born separated from God. What this means is that unbelievers aren't just sick. They're dead. They're lifeless. They don't need a self-help course to improve. They don't need a personality adjustment. They need to be saved by God. You can put a person in school, and you'll have an educated sinner. Put a person in therapy, and you'll have a well-adjusted sinner. Put a person in a church, and you'll have a religious sinner. You have to take a person to the cross of Jesus Christ for him to give his life to Christ. Now you have a saved sinner.

Now I know people don't like the word sin. It's too harsh. It's too crass. It's too unsophisticated to call it sin. Let's soften it a little bit and call it something else. But what if you did that with say the coronavirus? What if you decided to say, oh, it's not real, it's not a big deal like some have done at the beginning of this pandemic when they called it a media induced panic? Well, what happened is more people are susceptible to its spread, and more people can die. You see if you took a bottle that read poison and you decided, well, that's too harsh of a title, I'd like to soften the title a little bit, let's write cough syrup on the bottle, you won't be doing anybody any favors. You will actually be causing something to be more dangerous.

You see, we have to know how bad our spiritual condition is in order to get a cure. And this is the reason why unbelievers don't understand spiritual things. That's why when you share with an unbeliever about faith, and about their need to give their life to Christ, and about forgiveness of sin, they scratch their head and they go, I don't get it. I can't see it. Well, of course, you can't. The Bible says the natural man does not understand spiritual things. I've had people tell me all the time, well, I've tried to read that Bible, and I can never understand it. You're right. You can't understand it. You're like a corpse.

A corpse can't hear, or feel, or see. I've been at funerals where the deceased has been in a casket. And the relatives are lined up and encircling the casket. And I've watched relatives look down and speak to the deceased and even ask questions to the deceased and say parting words. And I want to say, you do know they can hear you, right? They lack any capability at all to respond. And when a person is dead, they can't improve their condition. They can't get a little bit less dead. They're all dead. You can't be more dead than somebody else.

And this is why Jesus said to a religious person no less, you must be born again. It is a spiritual necessity because that is the past life of every person. But here a person who comes to Christ, you were dead in trespasses and sins. Now he goes on and says, in which you once walked according to the course of this world. One scholar suggests the word walk could be translated meander, or stroll, or browse, or wander. That's why I've chose the word wandering. Have you ever gone into a store and you went in there not intending to buy anything? But then you walk out of the store and look. And you've just purchased things you really didn't think you were going to.

And then you come home and you go, now how did that happen? Here's how it happened. It's called browsing. You browsed your way into buying something. That's what happened. Paul says, we used to browse through this world with no real purpose, with no real goal. We were just meandering, wandering, browsing, no real fixed purpose or goal. The prophet Isaiah said, all we like sheep have gone astray. We have all turned to our own way. If you ever watched on television the show The Walking Dead, there's always like corpses around that seem to follow the main characters. And they're just kind of lumbering around, and they're just meandering through life.

That was you. You were like that walking dead. I'm speaking right now to someone who is lacking real purpose in his or her life. You don't have meaning. You don't have purpose. And maybe this whole coronavirus has agitated you to the point where you've even started asking what is the purpose and meaning and goal of life itself? I'm glad you're asking that question because the Bible has real answers for it. And it's time that you find the answer to it. If you're feeling empty, you can be filled.

So that's your past. Your past you were wandering from God. But then the apostle moves into the present tense. This is you now if you're a Christian. You went from wandering to walking with God. Verse 4, "but God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus". Did you notice that transition? Two of the greatest words in literary history, but God, but God. It's one of the great transitions in the Bible.

In fact, it occurs 45 times in the Bible. And whenever you find in scripture the words but God, it signifies great change. What it was like before those two words and what it's like after those two words is radically different. So there's one situation, but God, and then there's the different situations. So these two words that Paul says here are two of the most hopeful and helpful words ever. They point to God as the great interrupter. That's right, the great interrupter. He wants to interrupt whatever meandering you are in right now, purposeless existence you have right now, and give you real hope to interrupt this day with real life. I hope you let him do that. These two words can change your life. These two words can change bad news into good news. They can change wandering into walking.

Now all of those who are believers right now and listening to this you can all remember your own but God moment, your conversion, the moment you were saved. One hymn writer in the great hymn "Amazing Grace," said, I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see. Do you remember when that happened for you? I do. It was a summer day. It was in my brother's apartment. It was San Jose, California afternoon. I was turning on the television. I watched an evangelist, Billy Graham, on television. The Lord use that to bring me to him, and every thing after that day changed. It was my but God moment.

So what did God do in the present? Paul said, he made us alive. Down a few verses after that, he says, he made us alive together. Four words, made us alive together. In the original language, it's one word. And it could be translated, he reanimated us. I like that. I love that word. He reanimated us. Now my mind goes back, when I read this, my mind went back to all those Frankenstein movies I saw as a kid, and Dr. Frankenstein talking about the reanimation of dead tissue. But that's the idea here. He reanimated us. In fact, all the times this word is used in the Greek New Testament it's a synonym for the resurrection from the dead. So Paul is using the resurrection of Christ as a metaphor for what happens to a person when God gets a hold of them and changes their lives.

So he took us from the wandering dead to the wonderfully alive. He made us alive together. He made us alive with a purpose. He made us alive with joy. He made us alive with hope. He made us alive together. This is the reason Peter, another of the apostles of Jesus, called it a living hope, referred to the resurrection as a living hope. In 1 Peter Chapter 1, verse 3, Peter writes, according to his abundant mercy, he has begotten us again or we are born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I want you to think for a moment what it was like to be Peter. He wrote those words.

Peter at one time was a fisherman. His life was getting up in the morning, putting nets in a boat, taking the boat out into the lake, throwing the nets out, catching fish, going home, doing it again every single day. There was a lot of predictability built into Peter's life, a lot of boredom. No, we love the idea of going fishing, but he did it every day, every day. That was his occupation. I bet after a while, Peter started asking questions like, is this all there is in life just working all day, coming home, doing it again, coming home doing it again? All of that monotony and boredom, I bet he started thinking, is there anything more to life than that? And then one day somebody walked into his life and said, Peter, from now on, you're going to catch men not fish. His name was Jesus.

And Peter listened to this Jesus and started following him around, and hope was birthed in him, a hope he never had before. He was so excited, and he did that for three years until one day he got nervous because Jesus predicted that he would die on a cross. And one day Jesus did die on a cross. And when Jesus died on a cross, Peter's hope died along with him. Peter went from hope to hopeless when Jesus died on the cross. They hoped that he would be the Messiah. In fact, those are the words that two other disciples used on the road to Emmaus. When Jesus walked up after the resurrection, they didn't know it was Jesus. Luke chapter 24 says, Jesus walked up incognito said, hey, what are you guys talking about? He said, oh, we're talking about a guy named Jesus who said this and said that.

And we hoped, (past tense) we hoped that he would be the one who would save and redeem Israel. Peter had no hope when Jesus died on the cross. He went from hopeful to no hope until the day of the resurrection. On the day that Peter went to the tomb and looked in and saw that Jesus was alive from the dead, hope made a comeback. And Peter calls it a living hope not just a hope. He went from hope to hopeless but now to a living hope because what this means for Peter is that every single promise Jesus made will also come true. Jesus promised that he would die and rise from the dead. It happened. Now all those other promises must be true, promises like I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will never die but will live.

Promises like because I live, you also will live. You see he made all those promises. Now if he promised those things and then he died and that was it, then Peter could have said along with the other disciples, yeah, so what? Big deal, whatever. But the fact that he made those promises and then rose again from the dead, that's something completely different. Peter said, we have a living hope, so that's the present tense. We went from wandering to walking, walking with God. Now how can he do it? He can do it because it says he's rich in mercy.

Verse 4, but God who is rich in mercy because of his great love with which he loved us raised us up together. God is rich in mercy, which means we're a perfect match with God. God is rich in mercy. We are poor in sin. You get poor in sin and rich in mercy together, you have a perfect combination. That's what God provided. He's so merciful. In the Book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah said, through the Lord's mercies, we are not consumed. His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. God is so merciful. That means that God doesn't give us what we deserve. And he's rich in that. And because we are poor in sin, we need somebody who's rich in mercy. And God is that.

And Paul says, God is rich in mercy. And he said, because of the great love with which he loved us. And if there's one message I want you to hear this Easter is that no matter who you are, what you've done, where you've came from, what your background is, what your addiction might be, how hard life is for you, God loves you. He really loves you. I remember when I first heard that I didn't quite know what to do with it. I thought, well, loves me. See, I wasn't even sure God even liked me. And somebody said God loves you. And I discovered that God loves me, and it's a great love.

I want you to hear that. No matter who you are, no matter what you've done, no matter how you've lived, no matter what mistakes you've made, no matter how many failures you have perpetrated, no matter how many failures you've been involved in or addictions you might have, you can have a but God moment where you discover a merciful, loving God who will change you forever and give you hope. That's what Easter is all about. So that's the past, and that's the present. The past you were wandering. The present you're now walking with God. That's what he's calling us to. Brings us to the third phase, the future, past, present, future. Future, watching for God. That's one verse, verse 7. "That in the ages to come," future tense, "He might show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

I remember how I felt that afternoon in San Jose when I was watching the television program. And I turned it off, and I prayed a bumbling prayer really to ask Jesus into my heart. It wasn't a good prayer, but it was from my heart. I meant it. I asked him to come in and save me. And I remember after saying amen how I felt. I didn't hear a voice. I didn't see a light, but I did feel something. I felt unburdened. I felt lighter. I felt freer. I felt like shackles had fallen from my life. I felt like I had purpose. I knew my past was forgiven. I knew my life wasn't the same. I could feel the joy. But at some point afterwards, there was a transition. At some point afterwards, I realized all of this joy, all of this salvation, this is not the end of the story.

This is just the beginning of the story. This life change, this joy, this peace, this purpose that I feel, that's just the beginning. It is leading somewhere else. My future started to open up. All of a sudden, I realized there's eternity in front of me. I realized that heaven is my home. Not only do I have peace now and forgiveness now, but I have heaven afterwards. And the Bible tells us to watch for that, to think about that, to focus on the future. In Titus chapter 2, the Bible says, looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, Paul writes, you turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His son from heaven. Philippians chapter 3, for our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. So past, present, future, looking, eagerly waiting, watching, that's hope.

During this coronavirus, I've had my finger to the wind, so to speak, kind of getting a read on what people are thinking in our culture, in our society. I've been looking at a lot of different blogs, reading a lot of different articles. And I've noticed that people are losing hope and feeling really lonely and disoriented. I found an article by a New York Times writer who interacted with 5,000 people in his audience. He asked people to write and say, how's your mental health? How are you guys doing through all this? How are you faring? And he said, the responses I got broke my heart. 5,000 emails came back to him. Of course, I can't read all 5,000 to you. But he summed it up this author, this writer by saying there is a river of woe running through our world. A significant portion of our friends and neighbors are in agony.

One college student wrote to him and said, I've been gripped by fear and depression. My future which seemed so bright a few months ago as I anticipated graduating in May now seems bleak and hopeless. Another person, an older person wrote, I cry a lot, which is my new norm. So to sum it up, I'm feeling totally alone in this crisis and hopeless. Now maybe that touched a nerve with you. Maybe that's how some of you are feeling as you're watching this. Listen, I want to get you to lift your eyes beyond the horizon, beyond what you are seeing in this world with this coronavirus. I want you to raise your eyes up and tell you you can have hope now and a home later. You can have both.

You can have hope in Christ now and hope in that Christ will give you a home in heaven forever. See the question is not am I going to die? If you're wondering with his coronavirus, am I going to die, yes, you are. You have a death sentence. So do I. We all do. It's appointed unto every man wants to die. The question is not if you'll die but when you'll die, and more than that, how you'll die, and more than that, where are you going to go when you die? You need to think about that. Now let me address the Christian for a moment. Christian, you're told to wait for Jesus' return eagerly.

Let me ask you a question. How are you waiting for Jesus? Do you wait for him eagerly? Do you watch for him? Do you think, Jesus could come back today, or are you passive about it? It's no big deal. You know, one of my favorite movies growing up, which incidentally was filmed way before I was born, was called The Wizard of Oz. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy clicks her heels, remember? And she goes, there's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. She was talking about Kansas. If she can talk that way about Kansas, I think Christian should talk that way about heaven. There's no place like heaven. There's no place like heaven. There's no place like heaven.

One Scotsman, I think his name was Duncan Matheson, had a prayer, very cool prayer. He said, Lord, stamp eternity on my eyes. You know, if God did stamp eternity on your eyes, you would live differently. You would make choices on a daily basis differently. Now why are we so eager? We are so eager because it says in verse 7, listen to it. Let it sink into your heart. That in the ages to come God might show the exceeding riches of his grace and his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Let me translate that in my translation.

God loves you so much it's going to take him all eternity to show you. He's going to be unfolding it as eternity goes on. It's going to take him forever to unfold a new aspect of his grace, a new aspect of his love. Now I've heard for years, Christians have been called escape artists. We talk about the coming of the Lord. We sometimes talk about the end of the world, and this sort of makes unbelievers a little nervous. And they go you guys are so heavenly minded. You're no earthly good. You're always trying to escape what's going on. No, we're not. Our hope is not in the coming of the Lord. Our hope is in the Lord who is coming. Our hope is in a person not an event. We believe that this Jesus whom we love is going to show up again, and we can't wait to see him. We can't wait to see what he is going to show us throughout eternity.

CS Lewis, a great author, once wrote a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not as some modern people think a form of escapism or wishful thinking but is one of the great things a Christian is meant to do. If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for this present world were those who thought the most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think about the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Listen, if God stamped eternity on your eyes and you were thinking about what's coming afterwards as a hope, as a joy, it would change the way you live.

My prayer, my prayer is that you will go from wandering to walking to watching and worshipping in a real relationship with him. Now because of this coronavirus and because it's so serious, everyone everywhere in the world has been told they need to change their way of living dramatically. They have to change everything. Everything they knew before has gone away. Everything becomes new now. And I was wondering what if we treated sin like we treat coronavirus because it's far more serious. It has far more lasting effects than coronavirus. COVID-19, they tell us, has an infection rate of 2.5%. Now some are saying, oh, no, it's much higher. It's 5% or 6%.

OK, sin has a 100% infection rate. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Now because of the infection rate and people are worried about it, we're told to do things like social distancing. I think when it comes to sin we need to do some spiritual distancing. We need to separate ourselves from sin. The Bible tells us to do that, by the way, separate ourselves. After all, sin separates us from God, so we should separate ourselves from sin. We're told to wash our hands. We're told to disinfect things around us to decrease the infection rate. Let's take the same precautions spiritually. Let's cleanse our eyes from lustful views. Let's cleanse our mouths from foul speech. Let's cleanse our minds from impure, bad, hateful, hurtful, thoughts.

And then at the same time, the medical community is out there frantically trying to find a vaccine to treat this. So they're trying things like hydroxychloroquine, which was used to treat malaria along with a few other drugs. And they're watching to see if this works. And they're taking and studying the blood of infected people to find antibodies that will fight the disease. Do you know that our Savior came and got infected? The Bible says the blood of Jesus Christ, God's son, cleanses a man from all sin. He came to this earth, and the Bible says he took our sin on himself. And that's why he died on a cross. He took the infection to keep you from suffering, to provide an antibody, to provide a vaccine, a cure for you. So we're here to tell you on this resurrection weekend that the best news the world ever heard came from a graveyard.

And that was the news that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. And that's just not some empty event. That brings hope. It means he conquered death. And it means everything he ever promised can also come true. The best news you'll ever hear in the middle of this coronavirus is God loves you. God has a plan for your life, and God wants to save you of your sin and give you hope and give you home in heaven with him. Whatever past you have, you were wandering. You can have a walk with God, a but God moment. You can have that moment today right here, right where you're at. And then you can have a future with him forever. How do you do that?

Well, the Bible just says you believe in Him. It's simple. He did all the work. So you have to say, I believe he did that, and I believe he is my Savior. And I'm going to let Jesus provide the cure for me. I'm going to let Jesus take my sin, and I'm going to take that vaccine. I'm going to take the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses me from all sin and put that to my account. It's a simple act of faith. I'm going to lead you in a prayer right now where you are. And if you want a life change, you want hope now and a home later, you want a moment where everything begins to make sense and you have purpose and meaning, you have not just a past but a radically different present and a wonderful future, then right where you're at pray.

Give your life to Christ. I'm not saying be religious, or you got to join a special church, or do a special thing. No, all you have to do is come as you are and give your life to Christ and take him as your Savior. You say, well, Skip, it's for other people. You couldn't be more wrong. It's for you. It's for you because the infection rate is 100%. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Well, you don't know how bad it's been for me in my life. I've done so many bad things, and I'm going to clean up my act. And when I get a little better, then I'll... no, not then, now. Jesus came for the worst of people.

More than that, you might be there hiding behind your religious mask and think, yep, other people need that but not me. I've been a religious person. I believed in the good book and in the good Lord all my life. But you don't have a personal relationship with Him perhaps. That's all it is to you. It's a distant, aloof, faraway thing. You can have a real change right where you're at. You just come as a child. You receive him as your cure, your Savior, the lover of your soul. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. If you want a life change, I want you to pray this prayer right where you're at with me. Just say this to him:

Lord, I know I'm a sinner. I admit that. I've blown it. I failed. Forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I believe He came to this earth, and I believe He died on a cross for my sin. And I believe He rose from the dead, and He's alive right now. And I believe in His promises. And so I turn, I repent of my sin, of my past. I turn to Jesus with everything in me. All of me, I turn to Jesus as my Savior, as my Lord. Forgive me. Cleanse me. Take me. Use me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Are you Human?:*