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He is risen

March 29, 2016

Easter SundayEl resucito

 

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,  and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.  Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NIV)

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, he was raised again on the third day according to the Scriptures”.
It’s time to believe that he died for my sins; it’s time to believe in the scriptures, that is, in the Bible. It is time to believe that He rose again and is alive, and He is also here among us today in the same way that he appeared to his disciples on the morning of Easter. It is a very rewarding and wonderful feeling to know that he wants to be here among us. And He is even seeing us and wanting to bless us! But in order for Him to bless us, let’s see what must be done first:

It’s time to decide whether or not we truly believe! Resurrection Easter is a time to tell Christ, and to tell to ourselves: Yes, I do believe. If possible, we should do it loudly, as we get used to saying it at the beginning of Easter service: Christ the Lord is risen. Alleluia. And the congregation responds: He is risen indeed. Alleluia! Using this address should be more than an empty tradition. The words “He is risen!” remind us of the joyous news we celebrate at Easter, that Jesus’ death was not in vain, and that He has the power to overcome death. Saying “He is risen!” allows us to share this incredible truth with each other. The resurrection of Christ gives us hope for salvation and for our own resurrection and eternal life.

We must be able to say these words, which are good and fearful before God, daily in our lives. Every morning when we get up, we would have to speak these words out loud; no matter if someone in the house hears us.
We also need to be able to say these words out loud and freely when someone asks us about our faith. In our conversations with people we should confess our faith in Christ with others. There are many people who have no problem cursing and cussing in front of others, for this way of speaking is thought of as “cool”. But they are ashamed to say they are Christians or give a Christian opinion on a subject, for fearing being discriminated against or treated differently for basing their principles in the Bible. And maybe these same people believe in the principles of the Bible, but are more afraid of what people might think of them, than what God might think of them.
What do you think? How would Jesus feel not hearing us declaring our faith when we can do so? Do you think people confess in the same way as they do in church? Is it worthwhile to declare your faith in church at, for instance, Easter Sunday service, but then not have the courage to confess it in front of people for fear of being different? Before God, today’s statement has no worth at all, if we don’t also do it before people when we must do it. This shows that it was not a genuine statement; it shows that our faith is not as such or that our faith is weak.

In the Bible Jesus tells us: “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29). Jesus said this when he was about to perform a miracle. He needed their faith for the miracle to be performed. So it is also with our confession of faith in Christ, which is needed in everyday life in order for God’s presence, power, and blessing to be manifested in our lives. It is very easy to realize that when God’s blessings, answered prayers or solved situations are missing in our lives, it is because there is a problem of faith on our side. And one of those faith problems has to do with our lack of willingness to confess our faith before others, to really be committed to Christ when it is time to do so.
Jesus says: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 10:32). And this is not something that only applies to future days when we go to heaven; it also applies to being accompanied by the blessing of God in every day of our lives. We have to commit ourselves to God so that he can also be committed to us. This is what the apostle Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)
Some people can confess Christ in the church without a problem, but they cannot confess Him in front of people. And that’s sad. And we are challenged with this to this day, here on this Easter Sunday. Do we ‘indeed’ believe that Jesus was raised? Then we must have the courage to confess HIM in front of people, when we need to do it.

Once, a few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet a renowned evangelist. After chatting with him he told me directly: ‘No offense but your problem is that you really still don’t believe in the very power of Christ.’ I was troubled by what he said me. I realized later, reflecting on this, that he may have been right. I really didn’t believe that after praying, Jesus could intervene miraculously in my life. I didn’t believe that things could change substantially. I did not believe the Bible verse I had just read was indeed God’s word. I had received so much biblical criticism during my theology studies that more than once it made me question the very word of God in a way that prevented me from truly believing in it as the word of God and not a merely the words of men.
I realized that there were situations in my life that could not be changed because the problem was in me, in my lack of faith. And I realized that what that evangelist told me was right. There I understood Jesus’ words: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Lk 18: 16.17). Why did Jesus speak of children this way? He was referring to their aptitude to believe, their naivety, their purity, their sensibility, their gullibility. Whoever does not have such a faith in God, and cannot believe in His Word, cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. To enter the kingdom of heaven it is necessary to believe in the risen Christ, God incarnate in Jesus Christ.

Today on this Easter Sunday, we are challenged and we are also invited again to truly believe and declare it “indeed”. Are we able to believe indeed now, but also when we go through the exit door of the church? Faith begins there, when we leave the church and meet with people in everyday life. Faith begins there, when every morning we give priority to prayer and reading the Word of God before starting to work. Those who cannot put God first and truly start believing in Him will be very poor in blessing and risk not reaching salvation

Believing is not an obligation. But believing is the only way of being a Christian. No one is forced to believe in the word of God. But make no mistake, if you are a Christian you must believe with your heart, with your thoughts, with your mouth, you must declare it, you must have the courage to declare it in front of others, even those who may not believe. We won’t be blessed by God and we won’t become saved by only coming to church; we are nevertheless invited to commit ourselves to Christ.

Today might be a day of great changes for your present and future life, but everything depends on you. Jesus told the doubting Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
Surrender your life to God in truth; begin to believe in his word, without questioning and with the faith of a child. Not only will you begin to see miracles in your life, but also what the apostle promises today: “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.”

As of that moment, after my talk with that famous evangelist, I told myself: ‘It is true, I have to decide, to believe in Christ or to not believe, if I am a Christian or I am not. Jesus is inviting me to truly believe in him. I have two options, or to pretend to be a Christian, not ever achieving a taste of God, or to give myself to him with that innocent faith, and see the great things that he has in store for me.

Christ offers you the same thing. Coming to church without believing must be very boring and tiring, and nothing will be received. But coming to church after having decided to believe will fundamentally change your life. But everything depends on you. Christ offers himself to us; he wants you to try His new life and see what you will do with your life from the moment you decide to believe and commit yourself to Him without questioning His Word. He says to us: “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”(Mk 5:36)

May God bless us abundantly on this day of resurrection and may His Spirit grant us the miracle of believing with a true faith. Amen.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. margkahl permalink
    March 29, 2016 8:37 am

    Thank you for the sermon I learned something! Blessings Margaret

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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