Everyone Lives For Something | Easter Sunday 2023

Why Is The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ So Important To Christianity?

Ross Sawyers
Apr 16, 2023    48m
Easter is the perfect time to reflect on the eternal importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the core message to Christianity. Knowing that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day changes how we can view eternity. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: It's been an awesome weekend just to be able to celebrate what Jesus did for us at the cross and in the power of the resurrection. Also recognize that whether you're here present, or you're online with us, that when we talk about with Jesus did, that that might not be something that you see as something to celebrate or something that's powerful or life changing. And a number of people have just different things that are parts of their stories, and where you might be today and the way you think about things. And I want us, before we get into the Scriptures, to look at a story of someone that would not see what we're talking about as such a great thing. So let's take a look at Isaac's story.

Issac: I grew up kind of in a Christian household. The church we went to when we were a lot younger, wasn't like the best example of what a Christian church should be. And that actually for me, kind of was a big, big deal. I saw a lot of hypocrisy in the church, and it just didn't feel, like, authentic, it didn't feel real. It felt like everyone was just kind of putting up this like, perfect image of what a person should be, and it wasn't really like honest, right? They were just trying to look good in front of everybody else. My parents, both my brothers, they were believers. You know, they set a good example for me, we used to have these really famous breakfast-time, lunchtime, and dinner-time debates about God and the different things in the Bible. And me not being a believer, I just kind of felt more so like I was there to antagonize them, so I'd always ask these really difficult questions. But even throughout all of that, through all of the kind of screaming matches and stuff, they were still patient with me, and they answered the questions.

Issac: When I was about a senior in high school is when I really started kind of going into the atheist route. At school, they don't really teach you about the Gospel, they teach you, you know, about scientific facts and things like that, which is great, but they don't really resonate or tell you the why these things are happening. So you have to kind of look for that for yourself, I started to kind of just look into the atheistic ideas. I started to truly believe that there was no purpose outside of, you know, who we were. You know, we were stardust, that was kind of the catchphrase there. It didn't really matter what we did, so life was just kind of whatever you wanted to make out of it.

Video: The very matter that makes us up was generated long ago and far away in Red Giant stars.

Issac: It had to do a lot with, like, what I wanted, right, and what I felt. It wasn't, what does God want? Or what's the truth? It was just more so like, well, like for me, for example, it was convenient for me that there was no God because then I can do whatever I want, and that took me down a pretty dark road. I had a lot of friends that were atheists, and I had a lot of friends that were believers as well. And what I ended up starting to do was, I started to mock the Christian believers, and it was just a really bad time for me. We started seeing the new building come up for 121 and we actually thought it was a community outreach center at first, we didn't know it was a church. Juda and my mom were actually the first ones to say, hey, we want to go visit that church.

Issac: So the second service since the building opened, they started going. And of course, at that point, I had to go as well, but I didn't really want so much all of the God stuff that was going on, right? I didn't want to hear about Jesus. I didn't want to hear about the Father. I didn't want to hear about the Holy Spirit. I just wanted to be around people and talk and mess around. And so I had to go through, like sitting in the worship right, during worship, awkwardly standing there, and just kind of having all these people around me worshiping God, and I'm not a believer in God, and I was looking for any way to get out of that. And I remember because they said that they needed volunteers to greet at the doors during the worship, so I was like, oh, that's a fantastic way, I'll go do that, I'll go say hi to people. I can do that, and then I don't have to be in the worship for the church service. And so I remember I was at Barnes and Noble one day with my family and I wanted to pick up this psychology book, so I dragged them over there to pick it up. And my dad, I love them so much for doing this, but he said he was, like, hey, how about this? He was like, I'll pay for the book, but you have to go, and you have to pick out a book from the Christian section. So the oh, fantastic, sweet. I get a free book, you know, and I'll just pick out a small one just to kind of make him happy. Right? So I went over to the Christian section, and I looked for the smallest book I could find, and the book I pulled out was More Than a Carpenter, and it basically makes a scientific argument for Christ. So he would ask me, he was like, well, what is the book about? And so I would read it and then talk to him about it. Like I finished reading the book, and he kind of went over like the scientific basis for a lot of these things. And he put in a lot of like verses in there that the Bible kind of spoke about those things as well. Right? Made me kind of start wondering, well, what's out there? What's the truth? Because I'm seeing something really strong over here that they haven't talked about in these atheistic circles.

Issac: So I started like watching these debates between like, atheist scholars and Christian scholars, and I started looking into other religions as well, just to kind of see where everyone kind of stood. With all these other religions, it felt like a lot of their arguments were very empty, just like a pseudo-spiritualism, right, where I feel this way and that kind of more so aligned with atheism. But when you actually look at like the Christian Debaters, a lot of what they talk about is actual historical evidence and scientific evidence. And then like on top of all that, Scripture kind of speaks into everything. It seemed like the way that Richard Dawkins puts it is, atheism is Godzilla, and this is like the Godzilla universe, and Christianity's Mothra, right, that's like the big bad thing in the atheist universe. I didn't really understand that until you actually started diving into it, and you start realizing that a lot of the arguments that atheism makes break under the weight of what Scripture says, and under the weight of like scientific evidence. And one of the big things that while I was an atheist, I would say, well, it's not that I discard the idea of God, it's just the probability is really low based on evidence. And so right there was a hypocrisy that I tried running away from the church. Right. And I saw in this debate just the bitterness that was in him, he wasn't really there to debate ideas, he just wanted to assert that what he was saying was true, he didn't care about the other ideas.

Ross Sawyers: So Isaac just saw in the church early on, it's interesting how children can pick up hypocrisy. And that turned him off early, that the church was a bunch of hypocrites. And then he became antagonistic towards the church and towards Christians and then explored science and those different things. Maybe you'd find yourself in part of that story. And for Isaac, he was those were the things for him that make what we talk about in Jesus not very attractive to him. I know today that there would be those with us, that it might be that in the past somewhere you've been hurt by someone in the church and that has built up walls against it and you've not had an interest in it because of it. It might be that you read things or hear Christians say particular things and take stances that are against what stance that you would take. And it makes you not very interested in Jesus and or you just might look at it and say, you know what, this just doesn't really add up to me. So I'm not that that interested in it. And so I know there are so many among us that, that that is part of the thinking. And my hope would be today that we could, at least in a brief moment, be able to give a scriptural anchoring to who Jesus is. And it might stir the heart in a different way towards him. I'd like to move around one idea that through this passage in First Corinthians 15, so if you have a Bible, you can turn to first Corinthians 15 towards the back of your Bible.

Ross Sawyers: If you don't and then if you have an app, you're welcome to use the app. And if you don't have a Bible or an app, then the scripture will be on the screen. So you'll be able to track with us that way. But in here, I want us to think about the idea that everyone lives for something. Every person in this room and every person online lives for something. There is something that causes us to get up in the morning and move through the day. We might be motivated by something we don't really enjoy, or we might be motivated by something we do enjoy. But there's something that gets us out of bed and that we live for. And the question that I'd like us just to think about this morning is what is that that we live for? What is it that we're giving our lives to? And Paul helps us. He's the writer of this letter, the first Corinthian letter, and he helps us see what the core message is around Jesus. But I want us to think about that together. What is the core message that guides your life? And that would be our first idea. As we look at verses three and four. And this is where we'll spend the bulk of our time, and then we'll spend a little bit of time in verses five through 11 and a few others in Chapter 15.

Ross Sawyers: Before we look at this core message, just a little bit of context, Paul is writing this letter to the Corinthians and in the first several chapters he's dealing with problem after problem in the church and he's given them what would be the way that God would have them deal with those particular issues. By the time we get to Chapter 15, he's dealing with the problem of the resurrection, and there seems to be some doubt as to whether there is a bodily resurrection or not, or does Christ actually raised or not? Chapter 15. Then he is laying out why it is that it really is an undeniable fact that Jesus is resurrected from the dead and actually why that even matters. And that brings us into this chapter, he says to them Up front in Chapter 15, I've made the gospel known to you. The word gospel simply means good news. So when we say gospel, all we're talking about is good news. That's what the word means. Says. I've made known to you the good news. You've believed it, you've received it, and now you stand in it. But then he says, if you hold fast to what we've said and what he's saying there is that we'll know the ones who have really bought into who Jesus is by their holding fast to it over time and it will play out. Was that really a genuine giving over and receiving or not? And that brings us to verses three and four.

Ross Sawyers: And again, we think about a core message here that we see in verse three for I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures for I delivered to you. So Paul says, I'm just simply delivering to you what it is that I've received. We talk about that often here, that whatever it is that God's doing, it's not intended to stop with us. It's intended to go through us to be passed on. And Paul is delivering what he has received and it's of first importance, he says. Now he's dealt with all these other problems, all these other issues, but he's saying, hey, this is the one that is first importance. This is the priority issue and that's what I'm delivering to you. If we don't talk about anything else, we want to talk about this. This is of first importance. And he puts it in three phrases that actually just sum up what the core message is for someone that's a follower of Jesus. I delivered you as first importance. What I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Now we'll know what's of first importance to us. By the amount of time that we think on something. By the actions that we commit to what we're thinking on. And it's a way for us to consider what really is that core message. And Paul is saying the core message is Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

Ross Sawyers: Now, inherent in this statement is the problem. There is a core problem with all of humanity. All of us are equal at this point. We all have a sin nature and we are sinful at our core. And the beauty of this statement that Christ died for our sins is there's both the problem in the statement and there's the solution to the problem as well. And the solution is that Christ died for our sin. He died to take care of the problem. Peter, who was one of his disciples, said this in his letter First Peter, he says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” He would continue to say in chapter 3, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” And Paul would write in a second letter to the Corinthians that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” So Christ died for our sins once and for all to bring us to God according to the Scriptures, the Scriptures that are trustworthy and authoritative.

Ross Sawyers: My son is reading a book called Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, and I have the book also, and when he told me he was reading it, I thought, I'll read it as well, that'll give us some substantive things to talk about. And I was reading one of the chapters in it, and he was talking about Mary, the Mother of Jesus. But in a paragraph towards the end of that chapter, he made a statement, and he said a little phrase that caught me. He said. The cross exposes the heart. The cross exposes the heart. The cross exposed the hearts of all of those who were involved with Jesus when he died. Peter, who had walked closely with him when it came to the cross and Jesus dying on the cross, Peter denied him, and it exposed his heart. The other disciples who had followed so close to him when it came to the cross, and Jesus about to be crucified, they all fled and hid; they were afraid, and it exposed their hearts. The soldiers who were responsible for the crucifixion, they mocked him, and they beat him, it exposed their hearts. Pilate, who at least humanly seemed to have the ability to free Jesus, but he succumbed to the pressure. He was a people pleaser, and he did not want to risk losing his job, we see his heart exposed at the risk of his job being lost. And then there's Mary, the mother of Jesus, who for six hours was right there and watched her son hang on that cross, the tender-hearted love a mother for her Son, exposed at the cross. Paul says in First Corinthians 1:18 that "The cross is foolishness to some, and its wisdom and power for others." He doesn't really give a lot of in-between, either it's foolish and we might not go so far as to say it's foolish, but we sure don't live like it has any impact on our lives, or its power. It's foolish, or its power, Christ died for our sins, and the cross exposes our hearts.

Ross Sawyers: Verse 4, "And he was buried." "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried." Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy man, he was willing to take a risk. He asked for the body of Jesus after he died, he wrapped it in linen cloths, two separate cloths, and then he placed him in a new tomb, that was his tomb, after doing all the proper things for a burial. Mary Magdalene and Mary were present, they saw him buried, and then we see following that, "That He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." Both the Father and the Son were present at the raising of Jesus from the dead, he was buried and now he was raised on the third day. The verb here was raised, in the Greek, which it was written in the Greek originally, that verb carries with it the idea that this was permanent, this was a permanent raising from the dead.

Ross Sawyers: Somebody sent me a devotion this week that a man named Tom Doyle wrote. He had just taken a group on a tour to Israel, and so now they're connected to him, and I thought it was a really powerful thought on the resurrection of Jesus. And he starts in John 20 and said, we're told that when the tomb was empty, that there were ladies that came and saw the tomb first they peeked in, and then Peter came and he looks inside the tomb, and what did they see? Well, they didn't see the body of Jesus. What they did see was a linen sheet would be kind of how we think about it that was there, and then separately, there was a face cloth, and that face cloth was folded up separately from the linen cloth that had covered his body. And Tom Doyle asks a question, and he said, does that matter? Well, why do we get that detail? Why does he write that detail? Well, it does matter, and it matters when we understand the way a Hebrew mind worked, and the way they would have thought about it is this, they would have thought about a dinner. And in a household, the head of the household would have servants, and these servants would, when it was time for dinner, they would prepare the dinner well, they would set the place settings well if there were guests coming, or if it was just for the family. And then the servant would stay off to the side while the family was eating, and then just watch, and when they needed something, make sure and take care of whatever that was. When the head of the household was finished eating, he would take a linen napkin and wipe his mouth and his beard, and then if he was done, he would wash up the napkin and then set it down on the table. The servant off to the side knew that when the napkin was wadded up and placed on the table that he was finished, that the meal was done, and then he would begin to clean up. However, If the head of the household folded up that linen napkin and placed it on the table, it meant he was not finished yet, I'm coming back. Jesus is coming back; he was raised from the dead on the third day, and he appeared to many, and he's coming back, he's not done yet. He was raised on the third day.

Ross Sawyers: Now, what's the significance of the resurrection? Jesus is raised on that third day, he's coming back, Paul writes later in First Corinthians 15, verse 14, "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. If Christ hasn't been raised, then what I'm doing here, it's empty, it's vanity, it doesn't matter. If Christ hasn't been raised, then your faith, if you have a faith in Jesus, your faith is empty and vanity, it doesn't matter. It's a beautiful day today, you could be on the golf course instead, you would better use your time that way if you don't believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul says. And then he says, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you're still in your sins." So as Christians, if we believe in the resurrection, by the way, a difference here is if there's a curiosity, but if you're a Christian and you're not believing the resurrection, that's what he's saying. "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. What that would mean is if Christ hasn't been raised, then anyone else that has passed on and gone on before us, we'll never see them again. It's a false hope if Jesus Christ has not been raised because if Christ hasn't been raised, then those who have already perished have not been raised either.

Ross Sawyers: I was listening to a sermon that John Piper did the other day on the Resurrection, and he told a story about a Cistercian monastery. And Cistercian monks, they take a vow of silence, and the only time they speak is when they're confessing sin and repenting before God or they're praising God. The only person that can speak to outside people is the abbot, who is the head of the monastery. And someone from the outside interviewed the head of this particular monastery and said, what if you get to the end of your life and you find out this was wrong, you missed it? That Jesus died for you, and the resurrection, that all of it, you just missed it it wasn't true. And the abbot said, do you know what, it was still a meaningful life that we led. And John Piper just shook his head. No, the abbot got it wrong, because in verse 19, "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." It's not, this was a good life, we're the fools if Christ wasn't resurrected, and we should be pitied by everyone if Christ was not resurrected. But he was.

Ross Sawyers: And the scripture says as Paul goes on that Jesus Christ is the first fruit of what's to come, he was bodily resurrected, and the first fruits of a harvest means that when there's a harvest, the first fruit that's taken, that's an indicator of what the rest of the harvest will look like. And when we look at how Jesus was resurrected, then we get a hint as to how the rest of what it will look like for us in the resurrection. And we know that Jesus, when they first saw him after he was resurrected, many of them, did not recognize him, and then they did because he was in his resurrected body. And one day we'll have resurrected bodies that are absolutely perfect, not subject to aging or weakness or decay. It's possible that for those who are in Christ, and we see each other in the new heavens and the new Earth in our new bodies, that initially, we might not recognize each other because our bodies, while continuous, will be transformed perfectly just like Jesus. And that's a hope that we have, a hope in Christ today.

Ross Sawyers: But there are many who dispute the resurrection of Jesus, we're not the first ones with social media to have conspiracy theories that fly around. There was the swoon theory that somehow Jesus was on the cross and took all the beatings that he took and that he didn't really ever die, he was just swooning. And even though he got laid in a tomb, and a stone rolled across it, somehow, he managed to come to while he was in that damp, wet, dark tomb and managed to get his way out of there. Or there are those who believe his body was stolen, and others would say that the disciples had hallucinations. Which sometimes when we've lost someone that we love, it's almost as if we think they're there with us at different times. And so they propose all these conspiracy theories. But when we see the Scriptures, we see that there's really no denying. It doesn't mean you have to believe it, but there's really no denying the fact that Jesus was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

Ross Sawyers: You know, people like to say that all world religions are similar and that really, if you just boil them down to the crux of what they are, it's kind of all the same, and then you just pick and choose which one you like and that'll be your pathway to God. But I would say that's not intellectually fair to what each religion says, and Christianity is the only world religion that has a bodily resurrection of its leader as the very crux and core of the faith. Christ died, and he was raised on the third day, which is totally distinct from any other world religion is the bodily resurrection of Jesus. And then I'll have people, I have conversations all the time with people about faith, and this is a common conversation I have. People will talk about the teachings of Jesus, and they say, you know what, I follow the teachings of Jesus, but I don't really buy into the resurrection, I don't really buy into the crucifixion, and I don't really see that I'm sinful. Well, the very crux and core of the teachings and message of Jesus, is Christ died for our sins, he was buried, and was raised again on the third day. That's the core of our faith, that's the core message of the faith of Christianity. If you eliminate that, you've eliminated the core of what Christianity is. So the core message is the resurrection of Jesus, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus. Sometimes it's not totally clear, the things that we talk about.

Ross Sawyers: If you're a history buff, in 1815, I believe it was June 18th, the Battle of Waterloo took place. The Duke of Wellington was the leader of the forces against Napoleon, Napoleon was making his run across Europe, and Waterloo was seen as a crucial battle to whether Napoleon would take control of Europe or not. England was off to the side, waiting anxiously to see how that battle would turn out. When it was done, there was a signal that was sent across the channel to England to let them know the outcome of what happened at Waterloo, and what it said was Wellington defeated. And there was a fog that had come down over the channel and that's all they saw, and word started to spread in the UK that Napoleon had won. But later the fog rose and cleared out, and they saw the message again, and it said Wellington defeated Napoleon. Sometimes people stop, and they say Christ defeated, but then the fog lifts and we see clearly, Christ defeated his enemies, sin, death, and Satan. That's the core message, it's worth living for, that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day, and the landscape of the whole world changed after the resurrection of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: Now, that might not be your core message, but if it is, if that's the core message, if Jesus is, then there's also a validity for that. We would want to know if we're giving our lives to something, that there's validity to what we're giving our lives to, and to what we believe. In verses 5 through 8, we see that what Paul says is the validity of this is are the eyewitnesses who saw it. Now, there are a number of things that validate the resurrection, but this is what he says in writing to the Corinthians in verse 5, he says, "He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve." So Jesus appeared to Cephas, Cephas is the Aramaic word for Peter, and he appears to him. He sees him, then to the 12, the general sense of the disciples. "After that, He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep." And we know that when he was making these appearances to people, they would touch him and they would eat together, it was a bodily physical resurrection, and those were the appearances he was making. And it's as if Paul is saying, if you don't believe me, go ask these people, most of them are still alive. You can ask them; they've seen the risen Jesus. "Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles." James is a half-brother of Jesus, and James did not believe his brother. In John 7 we're told that Jesus's own family wouldn't believe in him. But something happened after the resurrection, and James believed it, and he would become one of the leaders of the early church, and the writer of the Book of James that we have in our Bibles. "And last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.", Paul says. That word, untimely born, is a Greek word that means abortion. And Paul is saying that I didn't belong here, I don't belong in this group of people that have seen the resurrected Jesus, as if he's this untimely born.

Ross Sawyers: So if Jesus is not your core, then what is your core message, and what actually gives validity to it? Are your feelings or emotions, is that your core? Do you just kind of roll with what way your emotions lead you? Is it science like Isaac talked about? Do you want the scientific facts? Is it sexuality, is it the way you identify that leads the charge as to what the core message is? Is it tradition in the church? Is it family values that have been passed down, that's the core message by which a person lives? Is it your own intellect that is the core message you listen to and follow? Is it your work? Is that it? You see, all of those things are not bad things, but they're not good core message things to live life by. The only one that doesn't shift and change is Jesus Christ, he's the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Ross Sawyers: The core message, validity, whatever the core message is that you and I live for, it ought to be life-transforming, it ought to be life flourishing, it ought to create a deep sense of joy and peace, whatever that core message is. Paul would say this in verses 9 through 11, "For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." Here Paul is, one can't believe that Jesus would appear to him that he actually saw him, and then he goes on to describe even more so why? He said, of all those who have seen the risen Christ, I'm the least, I'm not fit to even be called this because I persecuted the Church of God.

Ross Sawyers: Now, Isaac talked about in his story that he mocked Christians, he antagonized his own family. Paul was a hater, a mocker, and an antagonizer, he ravaged the early church. He was behind the first Christian that was killed, Stephen. So he's looking at this and saying I'm a persecutor and a hater of God, and he was a deeply religious man. Somebody sent me a Twitter feed the other day of a video of a young lady named Riley Gaines, and she's in her 20s, young 20s. And she is a follower of Jesus, and there are a number of things that happened while she's in the position she's in, but she is advocating for women right now in a position that a whole subset of people don't really like. And she did, I thought, a phenomenal job speaking to this group. And then the other night, she was speaking to a group, and when she left, I was sent a second Twitter feed of what it looked like. And there was just this mob of people, she had to be escorted. Imagine this, if you have a young 20-something-year-old daughter or imagine a peer that is your 20-something-year-old peer, and you're being escorted out because you have spoken out about something, you're being escorted out by the police. You have a number of people with their phones holding up, videoing what's going on, they are shouting some of the most vile vulgarities at her, they're trying to get in and touch her, and they just keep yelling at her as they whisk her off into a room where she had to wait until it was safe enough to be able to leave the building. But as I watched it, I thought, that's what it would have been like to be on the other side of Paul, who was ravaging the Christians. That's what it would have been like in our day if Jesus was going to the cross as everyone yelled their vulgarities and mocked Jesus and they wanted to be seen why they were doing it.

Ross Sawyers: Paul says, in verse 10, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain.". But by the grace of God, the undeserved gift of God on him. He did not deserve the life that God gave him in Jesus, dying for him and being raised for him. But he said," But by the grace of God." Not one of us asked for Jesus to come and to lay his life down for us, that was his own pursuit of us, by the grace of God, and that grace did not prove vain.

Ross Sawyers: Two things from this scripture today, that if you want to know the difference between Christianity and anything else, is the resurrection of Jesus and the grace of God. Grace is not in any other thing, it's an undeserved gift of God, and it's radically different than anything else. And Paul says I'm the worst of the worst. In First Timothy 1:15 he said, I am chief among sinners, I lead the list, but by the grace of God. "But I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me." The grace of God so captured him that He couldn't help but be the hardest worker to get the core message that's been validated of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, to as many people as possible. He exhausted himself, he suffered, and he took all kinds of punishment to be able to get the message of Jesus. But he was overwhelmed by the grace of God, that's what happens when we're captivated by the love and grace of God, we can't help but work hard in the power of the spirit and labor so others could know the grace of God and the goodness of God. "Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed." The word preached there is the idea of preaching and continuing to preach. I'm going to share this message and continue to share it. I'm going to share it again and I'm going to keep sharing it because this is a core message that causes people to flourish in life.

Ross Sawyers: Two men in England in the 1740s got together and they decided they were going to disprove Christianity. One of them was going to work on disproving the resurrection, and the other one on disproving the conversion of Paul. And they believed if they could disprove those two things, then they could dismantle Christianity, they went off their separate ways and they spent about a year working on these particular assignments. They came back together, and they touched base a little bit during that time, but when they came back together, they both realized that neither could prove that the resurrection was not a fact and neither could prove that the conversion of Paul was not true, they both ended up converting to Christ, receiving Jesus in what he did for them as they sought to disprove it. And then they each wrote books, one on why the resurrection of Jesus is evidenced well, and then why the conversion of Paul is the same. And Isaac, too, was encountered by the grace of God. Let's see what happened to him.

And one day when I'm out in the church lobby greeting after all this, Ross comes up to me and he asked me, he was like, hey, how are you doing? And I just flat out there told him I was like; I don't know if I believe any of this. And so he said, well, let's grab lunch and we'll talk about it. At the end of that lunch, I actually came out angrier than when I came in, and I unfairly put all the weight on him. I said, you know, a lot of the questions he didn't have answers to were things that I just didn't agree with the response that he had given me. He was like, hey, how about we start reading the Bible together? He was like, let's start at Luke and we'll go from there. That day and the next day I just spent my entire time reading through Luke to try to see what, you know, what I could find in there, and what answers I could find. And the entire passage, like you read about all of God's miracles and all the things that Jesus is doing, and none of it got to me until you get to the point of the crucifixion.

Issac: And there's Jesus crucified next to these two criminals, and you start reading about how one of the criminals starts mocking him. And I just kind of sat there and I identified with that criminal so much, and I understood kind of where I was at at that point, and I could see myself in it. And here he was crucified, justly, he deserved to be up there. And he has the Savior of the world in front of him, and all he can do is make fun of him. And then you have the other criminal that understands what he was looking at there, he understood that this was the Savior of the world through what was something that had to have been revealed to him, and he understood that he was up there justly. And all he could ask for is, please don't forget about me. And, you know, Jesus’ response is not one of hatred, it's not one of rejecting him, you know, he tells him, you'll be with me in paradise today. And that's what I just felt the Holy Spirit fall on me, and I remember because I started bawling my eyes out and I didn't know what was going on, I just knew, I was like, I want to follow Jesus.

Issac: Something that's kind of cool about kind of what God did in my life was when I was walking through it, I was looking at it and I felt like someone that was lost kind of stumbling through all these things and coincidentally running into all these resources and all these different situations. But now, as a believer, looking back, I see God's hand moving through all of it, just every part was orchestrated just so that he could reach me. And that's what's so cool about our God that he's an infinite God that will still go out and look for you, you know, the supposed star dust.

Ross Sawyers: Isaac's been overwhelmed by the grace of God, and he leads young men in our church to Christ, and he's still out there greeting, and he comes in here and actually worships now, it changed after he received Jesus. And so just love what God has done in Him. I hope if you're a Christian today, I hope your love for him has increased and that you're awe of him the same. If you're curious, you're trying to figure it out, or you've had things in your past that you're not sure about this whole deal, I hope that you'll find this to be a safe place where you can explore. We want our church to be a place where you can explore where you are, wherever you are in your faith, and we're going to love you wherever you land, and so that would be our hope today.

Ross Sawyers: If we could. I'd like for us to just be quiet before the Lord. And I enjoy having quiet space, one, I don't think we get much of it; and two, I think it's just an opportunity to just ask God, is there anything in a song today, anything in the Scripture today, anything from Isaac's story today that maybe God is saying something, stirring something in us that we'd want to act on when we leave this place? So if we could, let's be quiet before the Lord, and then we'll move towards an end here in a moment.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051