Online Worship for Easter Five, Sunday May 2, 2021
Sermon for Easter Five – 5,7,2006 - Sunday May 2, 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you. Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:17-20 (NKJV)
17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Whose Resurrection confirms our future,
Dear Fellow Redeemed by His Blood –
I’m going to warn you now, so that you are not surprised when it happens. Later on, this summer you will see a different face in the pulpit, the face of a young man named Jonah Albrecht. Jonah is a seminarian, a young man training at Immanuel Lutheran Seminary to be a pastor.
Now when you meet him you may naturally wonder to yourselves -- why would someone want to be a Christian Pastor (or for that matter, a teacher)? It’s a question I have been asked on occasion, and it’s not because my father is a Pastor.
Why be a Christian Pastor or Teacher? When many people today choose an occupation, they do so because the benefits are attractive and promise good things to come.
What are the benefits of the ministry? Well, if you are looking to get rich and live in a mansion – you might want to choose a more lucrative occupation. If you are looking for a stress-free occupation – try again.
Don’t get me wrong; there are benefits that come with the Pastoral Ministry – they just aren’t what most think of as ‘benefits.’ For example, it is very satisfying to be able to bring comfort from God’s Word in a funeral. It is encouraging to visit the sick and elderly with God’s Word and know that they hear and appreciate it.
However, the greatest benefit I have is one that you all have as Christians – forgiveness. Jesus doesn’t promise any of us earthly wealth. He promises to provide what we need in this world. The Lord Jesus promises us better than what can be found or had in this world. He promises eternal life apart from sin and its consequences.
Our Christian calling on earth may not be one that the world covets, but that doesn’t matter – our benefits, our retirement plan is out of this world!
It is the Resurrection of Jesus that guarantees us these benefits. Jesus Resurrection confirms that the one in whom we trust is the Son of God; it guarantees that His promises are reliable; it certifies that our sins are forgiven and that on the last day we will be raised from death again.
If Christ had not been raised there would be no benefit to faith in Him.
This morning we think about the frightening consequences of denying the Resurrection. If Christ had not rose from the dead then our preaching and faith would be empty; we would be false witnesses of God. Finally, if there is no resurrection then there is no forgiveness.
May God the Holy Spirit lift up our faith in Christ, confirming our hopes through these words. Amen.
In order that we may see the great benefits that are ours by faith in Christ, the Spirit directed the Apostle Paul to put it negatively, to show what benefits would not be ours had Jesus not arisen:
…if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
There is a difference between empty and worthless. An empty glass can be filled; a glass with a hole in it is worthless. In the 14th verse it was said that if Christ is not risen -- then both our preaching and our faith would be empty, that is hollow, without substance.
Now in this 17th verse we are told that if Christ is not risen – then our faith would in fact be worthless, without benefit, futile.
In order that we understand, let’s take a moment to re-open the case against us. In the Bible God opens our eyes so that we see who and what we are by birth and nature.
• We are the product of sinful human beings – this we cannot deny.
• We prove that we are sinful every day by committing sins of thought, word and action.
Since we are sinful and commit sin – God’s unchanging law declares that we are worthy of eternal death. We are in desperate need of forgiveness, of right standing with God. There is no hope for us unless God Himself intervenes.
So, God sent His Son to intervene. The Good News is that Forgiveness of Sins and all the blessings that we need -- come to us piggybacked on faith, faith in Christ. It is through faith in Christ that we are forgiven all sins, and made right with God as God Himself declares in His Word (Ephesians 1:7):
7 In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood,
the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
This is the case because the Son of God took our sins upon His back and was willing to be nailed to the cross with them. He was handed over to death because of our sins. He was then raised again so that we might be forgiven.
The Resurrection of Jesus confirms that forgiveness is ours, as it is declared simply in Romans, when it says that Jesus was (Romans 4:25):
…delivered up because of our offenses,
and was raised because of our justification.
He was raised from the dead – so that you and me and all those who trust in Him -- should be justified, that is, declared ‘not guilty’ of sin – forgiven.
Do you see then what is the consequence of denying the Resurrection of Jesus? Those who deny the resurrection throw away this most necessary and important gift. If Christ had not been raised then you would still be in your sins.
If Christ had not been raised then you and I would have to stand before the Just Judge of all surrounded by the damning evidence.
If Christ had not been raised then there would be no hope, no options and we would be handed down the verdict of guilty and sentenced to eternal separation from God in Hell.
But since Christ is risen from the dead – you may be certain that your sins are forgiven, paid for in full. The Resurrection confirms that what Jesus said on the cross is true, namely that the work of our salvation is finished.
If Jesus had not arisen, He could be no savior. We trust in the Living Christ find our every need fulfilled. Faith in Christ receives these wonderful benefits.
Those who reject Christ and His Resurrection will find these words of Jesus fulfilled (John 8:24):
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins;
for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
He was raised from the dead – so that in death you and I will not perish – but from the point of view of those who remain here we sleep in Him and will awaken to Life Eternal.
Once more to show us the great benefits that are ours, the Apostle expresses what would have been the case for those who die trusting in Christ – had He not arisen:
Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
Now since Christ is risen from the dead, we have this truly wonderful comfort – that those who have died trusting in Him are not lost, but eternally secure. Our sorrows at the death of a loved one are tempered knowing that they are with Christ and our separation is temporary.
We know that those who die in Christ will rise again, because the Living Christ has promised (John 6:40):
40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son
and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
If Christ had not arisen the third day, then one of the most beautiful of the words of Scripture would be empty (John 3:16):
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
He was raised so that you who die trusting in Him shall not perish. If He had not been raised then all men would perish.
Jesus didn’t come to be a self-improvement guru or a moral teacher. He didn’t come to leave this world a few nuggets of truth.
He came to save eternally. Those who die in Him are safe. Christ is risen, and thus has death become the door to eternal life. It is because of the Resurrection of Jesus that the death of a Christian is beautifully described from an earthly point of view as ‘falling asleep in Christ.’
As people see us here, we sleep and He will wake us up from the slumbers of death. From our own point of view, we will depart to be with Christ.
But all this rests upon His Resurrection. If Christ had not been raised then we would be hopeless.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The Holy Spirit has moved you to place all your hopes for this life and the life to come in Christ. He is reliable.
While the world around us lives for the here and now thinking this is all there is – we know better. The world around us urges us to live for ourselves, to eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!
Had Christ not been raised this would be true (1 Corinthians 15:32). We will suffer reproach and be branded as evil – because we refuse to follow.
If Christ had not been raised, then we would be deserving of pity more than all other men.
However, Christ is risen from the dead and our hopes live – for we have deposited our hope with Him who is reliable. However, those who deny the Resurrection of Jesus are truly without hope, and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12-13).
May God the Holy Spirit ever keep us strong our faith in Christ and confident in His Resurrection – that we may stand forgiven now and when it truly counts, when we stand before the Judge. Amen.