HE IS RISEN!!  Here’s a copy of my sermon manuscript from Resurrection Sunday, in case somebody’s interested.

The Power of the Resurrection (Phillipians 3:10)

Power is a valuable commodity in our world. People have always sought power in many forms. There is the power of influence and authority. For instance, it’s been said that the President of the USA is the most powerful man in the world. There is the power of strength. I’ve seen strong men perform some amazing feats of strength, such as bending steel bars or breaking baseball bats with their bare hands. You would never see a 98 pound weakling playing the position of defensive lineman in the NFL. Only powerful men take those positions. There is also the power of in the sense of a resource. Christian writer Max Lucado relates this story in his book God Came Near. One New Years Day, in the Tournament of Roses Parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas. The amusing thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. With its vast oil resources, its truck ran out gas. When the big ice and snow storm raged through our area recently and electrical service was interrupted, we said, “The power went out.”

Today, the day we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead, we celebrate still another kind of power. This power, the power of God Himself, is beyond every other kind or source of power, because it encompasses all the others within itself and adds still more. This apostle Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” It is this power of God that raised Christ, and it’s this same power that works in everyone who serves Jesus as Lord and Savior. We’ll be looking at several verses of Scripture today, so be ready to write down the references, and find them as we go along. In Philippians 3:10-11 Paul sets up our main thought here. Let’s consider today, the power of the Resurrection.

“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;  in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”   Phil 3:10-11 (NASB)

The Power of the Resurrection Gives Victory Over Death. We’ll start with the obvious first. On Friday evening, we gathered here and remembered the death of Jesus as He gave His life on the cross as a sacrifice to God for our sins. Hebrews 9:22 says, “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” 1 Peter 2:24 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.” Jesus died on that cross because the wages of sin is death. He Himself taught, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends,” and that’s exactly what He did for you and me, for all humanity, because we all are guilty before God.The real point here is that Jesus DIED! But when He got up out of that cold, dark tomb, He blazed a trail out a place from which no one has ever come before. I know that the Bible has many stories about folks who were raised from the dead. I’ve heard other folks report that they themselves died and saw the gates of heaven, but were resuscitated. But all those who have returned from the dead only lived for a little while longer, and then they died again. And dead they have stayed. But when Jesus came up out of the grave, He stayed out! He’s alive and He has promised that everyone who believes in Him will follow some day. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40). Friends, we all have to face death as long Jesus remains at the Father’s side, but knowing that we will be raised in perfection, just a He was, is the most comforting news I can think of. We’ve been reminded of the power of death in a very real way recently, but death doesn’t seem so dreadful knowing that I won’t stay dead forever. The power of the resurrection gives victory over death.

The Power of the Resurrection Gives Victory Over Destruction. The phrase “eternal life” appears some 40 times in the New Testament. It’s a major theme and rightly so, because that’s what we all want. I’ve heard of a few disturbed individuals who actually say they don’t want to go to heaven when they die, but the vast majority of humanity wants to attain eternal life, don’t we? Friends, we have to deal in reality here. Heaven is surely real, but so is hell. There is no alternative, no limbo, no middle ground. I read recently where even the pope has stated that, “limbo, supposed since medieval times to be a “halfway house” between heaven and hell, was “only a theological hypothesis” and not a “definitive truth of the faith.” And, contrary to popular belief, there is no simply ceasing to exist for the those who miss heaven. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death – not only physical death, but also eternal punishment and torment in hell. The book of Revelation offers some pretty sobering details about it – “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:13-15) Folks, get this part, if you miss everything else I say – be sure you stay out of hell. The only way to do so is by confessing and turning from your sin and turning to Jesus! It’s only by faith in Him that anyone has victory over destruction.My apologies if you’ve heard this before, but it’s a good illustration of the point here. The late Adrian Rogers told a story that there was a nightclub in New York City named “The Gates of Hell.” It so happens that on that same street is Calvary Church. One evening a fellow was out looking for that infamous den of sin, but he couldn’t find it. He stopped a man on the street and asked him where he could find the Gates of Hell. The New Yorker replied, “Oh, that easy. Just walk straight past Calvary, and you’ll go right to the Gates of Hell.” Friends, no truer words have ever been spoken. If you walk past Calvary and the sacrifice Christ Jesus has made for you sin, if you fail to commit yourself and your sin to Christ, then you will certainly walk right up to the gaping gates of hell. But if you participate in the power of the resurrection, you will have victory over destruction.

The Power of the Resurrection Gives Victory Over the Devil. Let me make one thing clear here – the devil is behind all the sin, all the trouble, all the wrong in this world. It is he who wants to see us separated from our Creator. It is he who wants to see each and every one of us burn in hell alongside him when God pronounces His righteous judgment on all unrighteousness. The devil and his armies of demons are busy in the world, tempting us and trying to keep us from God. He’s already done his worst damage by bringing about the fall of humankind in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, we’ve all been born into his domain, so that our destruction comes simply by doing nothing at all toward God.Even for us who have committed ourselves to serving Jesus, the devil is still working to discourage us and to render us ineffective for God’s purposes. Whether you realize it or not, we’re at war, a war that won’t end till the devil is finally taken completely out of the picture. Eph 6:10-12 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The devil is real, all right, but his death certificate has already been signed. It was issued that morning when Jesus came up out of that grave. “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Rev 12:9) The power of the resurrection gives victory over the devil.

The Power of the Resurrection Gives Victory Over Distraction. When you trust Jesus as your Savior and Lord, it marks the beginning of a lifelong journey. Sometimes, I wish God would have taken me straight to heaven the minute He saved me. It would be so much easier that way, wouldn’t it? But we aren’t taken out, we’re left here to live out a life of obedience and witness to Him and the power of His resurrection. The real problem is that, although our sins are forgiven, our desire and ability to sin isn’t taken away. It’s a constant struggle for all of us.I’ve talked to so many people who struggle with life. They’re Christians, but their lives just don’t have that sense of victory. There is very little, or no joy. There is no power. We get so easily distracted from those things which we know are the most important. Time is short because we over-extend and over-commit ourselves. Money is short because we over-spend. Patience is short because we over-stress. It never fails that when people get distracted by the things of this world that the things of God are the first to be put aside to make room for lesser things. Now, I’m not saying that all those things which distract us are necessarily bad, but anything that crowds Christ out of a life is sin.

Col 3:1-4 “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”Remember this one, crucial fact. You don’t have to go it alone. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” This abundance, this fullness of life, is not possible apart from a close, intimate relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit, who lives in every follower of Jesus, gives strength, wisdom, the ability to keep our lives focused on Jesus, where they should be focused. Whenever I talk to folks who are struggling with life, I always ask them how their relationship with the Lord is. It never fails that those who are defeated have gradually let their commitment to Jesus slip. Friends, the power of the resurrection is the same power that keeps us close to the only One who makes life worth living. Are you feeling discouraged and defeated by life? Be sure that to Jesus is where you turn first, not last. There’s a wonderful old hymn that really puts it all into perspective. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Friends, the bottom line here is that the power of the resurrection is the power to change lives.

A Zogby poll conducted just last week asked the question, “The Bible and the Christian faith claim that on the first Easter Sunday, the physical body of Jesus came back to life after being dead since his crucifixion on the previous Friday. Do you believe Jesus literally rose from the dead?” According to their results, “over 75 percent of the U.S. general public believe the biblical account of Jesus literally coming back to life in his physical body. That’s encouraging news, but it’s worthless unless belief is backed up by commitment. It’s nice to gather in a comfortable sanctuary with family and friends, to sing some inspiring songs, to watch a moving dramatic or musical presentation commemorating the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But friend, even if you believe that Jesus has risen from the dead, that belief alone won’t do you any good when you stand before Him in judgment. He is risen from the dead in order to demonstrate that He alone has the power to grant victory over death, over destruction, over the devil, and over distraction, but only to those who confess and repent of their sins, and commit themselves to Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. Do you know the power of His resurrection?

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