On Sunday you probably sang hymns about the Resurrection, and heard a message about the resurrection, and celebrated the Resurrection with other believers. But let me ask you
Life After Easter
Part One: I Peter 1:3-8
When our twin sons were 6 years old, according to my journal, they were challenged in the Bible program here at Colonial to share the gospel with someone. They were told to go find somebody and tell them the truths about the Lord and His life, death, burial, and resurrection. And so, one of our boys decided that he would deliver the gospel to his four year old sister whom he assumed probably needed it.
And so, one afternoon he made here sit down in a chair in the living room and he said, “Now I want you to listen to me.” And this six-year-old boy began to relay to her all of the gospel truth: of Christ’s death, His burial, His resurrection. And she sat there, believe it or not, listening. Marsha, who was watching and listening from the kitchen couldn’t believe she was actually sitting there letting her brother preach to her. And, finally, he finished and walked triumphantly away, having delivered the truth. She sat there for a few moments and then she hollered after her brother, “I already knew all that,” which wasn’t too encouraging to the little evangelist!
Truth is, the evangelical community is much more like his little sister than we would like to believe.
More than likely, you are here today and you will be here next Lord’s day because you believe that Jesus Christ died on a cross to pay the penalty for your sins and mine. You probably believe that Christ was buried and then arose from the dead in His glorious resurrection.
I could deliver that message to you today and, even though you are far more polite than my daughter at the age of 4, you could probably say in your heart, “I already knew all that!”
And that doesn’t mean we ought not rehearse it all . . . these great truths of the gospel.
I believe that knowing something is proven by doing something – by being something.
Perhaps the church isn’t really getting it after all.
Maybe that’s why the average person in America who says they’re a Christian also disbelieves in absolute truth; an eternal hell; that sexual relations is wrong outside of marriage; the Bible isn’t inspired of God but contains the word of God; that people can get to heaven if they are sincere in their religion even if their religion has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and, 1 out of 4 so-called American Christians believe in reincarnation or some form of spirit existence after death that does not involve going to a literal heaven or hell.
The church today would say, “we already know all that . . . but live a lifestyle and exercise a mindset totally devoid of gospel truth.”
Maybe the church has become like James warned – not doers of the word, but hearers only. (James 1:22)
To hear and not do, is to not have really heard at all. That’s why the Lord often asked the hypocrites and religionists of His day, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Over the course of these next two Sundays I want to deliver a test. I want to test whether or not we’ve really grasped the truth of the gospel; whether or not we really know “all that”; whether or not we really got it and its evident by the way we live.
A. W. Tozer wrote it this way, “[It is] the devil’s principle, deceitful tactic which makes so many Christians satisfied with an Easter celebration instead of demonstrating the power of Christ’s resurrection.
A. W. Tozer Renewed Day by Day (Vol. 2) Christianity Today, vol. 38, no. 4.
The demonstration of life after Easter!
This demonstration is throughout the Epistles as the Apostles called for the believer to live out his faith.
Today and next Lord’s day I want to examine with you what the Apostle Peter said a person would live like if they really grasp the application of gospel.
1 Peter chapter 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Here’s the first demonstration of life after Easter.
1) If we apply the truth of the gospel, then we ought to reveal a living hope and not pin our hopes on a dying world.
There is life after Easter. There is to be a demonstration of Christ’s resurrected life in and through us beyond this season.
There is a lifestyle that should follow the Easter season.
You see, the resurrection of Christ was not just an event – it formed a way of life.
By the way, did you notice that it is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ we can be born again. Without His resurrection our faith would be in vain, Paul wrote to the Corinthians
(1 Corinthians 15:14)
Being born again is a moment in time, much like your first birth.
You have a birth certificate with the time written on it when you were born. You weren’t born after you got cleaned up; after you had your first bath; after you got your first meal. You were born when you were delivered.
You are not born again after you join the church and clean up your life; you’re not born again after you attend a Bible study and make some decisions to live better. You are not born again after you attend Sunday school and church for one year.
Being born again is the work of God’s spirit, at a moment in time when your spirit is brought from death to life; that moment when your heart was quickened – when you heard and believed the gospel of Christ – that He died for you and paid the penalty for your sin on the cross.
At the moment you said in your heart or with your mouth, “I believe Christ did that for me and I want to receive everything he’s done for me and understand that everything you are ought to belong to Him . . . the mystery of the new birth takes place.
That moment when you recognized your sinful heart and called out to God for saving grace.
You might have been raised in church, but you never called out to Christ. You believe He is the savior of the world, but you’ve never asked Him to become your savior. I can’t tell you how many people like that I’ve talked to.
You might have been raised by Christian parents but you’ve never prayed to receive Christ.
You’ve never been born again – that’s a moment in time.
Nicodemus came to Christ wanting to know how to get into heaven and Christ said to Him the same thing He would say to you, “You must be born again.”
Not, “start going to the synagogue every Saturday” . . . or, start following me around.” You have to have the new birth.
How do you get that?
Paul wrote, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) I don’t believe you have to pray out loud, with someone, or alone, on your knees or standing – but at some point in time you embrace the gospel and call upon the Lord to save you.
I believe the church will be filled with people this Sunday and next who could say, “I already know all that,” but they’ve never done that for themselves.
Like the young mother I talked with last week after one of the services – with tears in her eyes she said, “I was raised in the church – sprinkled as an infant, confirmed as a teenager . . . I know that Christ died on the cross . . . I know He’s the only way to heaven . . . I don’t doubt the record of scripture, but I’ve realized that I have never personally asked Christ for forgiveness of mysins and I’ve never asked Christ into my life . . . we prayed right there for her to become born again to a living hope in Christ.
That’s the first step in life after Easter. You can’t take more steps in the right direction until you join those on the narrow path that leads to life everlasting.
We don’t pin our hopes on a dying world . . . we have pinned our hopes on a living Savior.
2) If we apply the truth of the resurrection to our lives, we ought to recognize our eternal wealth in Christ and stop clamoring after temporary stuff.
We really ought to be demonstrating a difference from the unbeliever who doesn’t believe there’s anything more important than this life . . . this is all you get . . . this is all the heaven you’re gonna have and all the hell you’re gonna have to go through . . . so try to get as much of the good stuff in life as you can because when it’s over it’s over.
Not according to the resurrection!
According to the resurrection, when it’s over, it’s only starting . . . when your life ends here it’s only just beginning.
Imagine 65 years to 65 billion years. Compare 95 years to 95 trillion years. That’s like comparing one drop of water to the Atlantic Ocean.
Notice again, Peter writes (3b) “We’ve been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, and undefiled and will not fade away.
Underline these three adjectives regarding your inheritance.
Imperishable: this is from the Greek word that means it will “never be spoiled”. You go to the grocery store and you buy perishables. They have dates on them to let you know when their not safe to eat or drink - when they’ll grow stale - when you shouldn’t eat it. On every Krispy Kreme Box is a date – that one doesn’t matter to me. 10 seconds in the microwave . . .
Peter says, you’re eternal inheritance doesn’t have a date when it’ll be of no use . . . when it spoils.
It is everlasting! It carries the idea of immortality.
Peter adds the adjective; Undefiled: This word in the Greek text means to be unstained and undefiled. The thought here is being untainted with evil.
It’s flawless . . . perfect . . . unpolluted . . . unstained.
The third adjective is Unfading:
The word here used by the classical Greek authors to speak of the beauty of flowers; in other words, the beauty of our inheritance in glory is magnificent and breathtaking.
None of the decaying affects of our fallen world can affect our beautiful inheritance in heaven . . . in the new earth . . . in the glory and splendor of God’s throne and very presence.
Adapted from Rienecker/Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Regency, 1976), p. 744
3) We ought to be trusting our future to Him and stop worrying that He’s unable to fulfill His promise.
Notice what Peter writes about this inheritance, v. 4 which is reserved in heaven for you 5. who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
This all hinges on the reality of the resurrection of Christ. Our confidence stems from the life of Christ.
The resurrection of Christ in the past demonstrates God’s ability to resurrect you after death to your eternal future.
Notice – “you, who are protected by the power of God.”
You are under the surveillance of almighty God. You have a reservation in heaven . . . nothing can destroy, erase, defile, diminish or displace it.
Your future is under the lock and key of heaven. You are protected by the most efficient security system available – the power of God.
Charles R. Swindoll, Hope In Hurtful Times: A Study of 1 Peter (IFL, 1990), p. 14
Maybe you’re wondering, is my salvation really that secure?
- Can’t somebody take it away from me?
Religion teaches that salvation can be lost by committing mortal sins. The Roman Catholic Church claims the power to both dispense grace as well as revoke grace.
But Jesus Christ said in John 10:29, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish – literally – they will never be lost – and My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
In other words, whoever is capable of taking your salvation away from you would have to be greater than God, and since no one is greater than God, no one is able to take it away.
- But will God take it away?
Listen, for God to take away your salvation would require God to have failed.
For God to chose us and call us and redeem us and bring us to life and immerse us into Christ’s life, imputing to us the righteousness of Christ, and sealing us with the Spirit and taking up residency in us and promise to present us blameless in heaven but then to throw up His hands and say, “this one is just too much trouble,” is to admit failure on His part to finish the work He initiated to begin with said He would complete in preserving and glorifying us for heaven.
For God to take back all he gave would signal failure of the Godhead.
Not to mention disunity, for the Son would have to stop interceding for us, the Spirit would be forced to unseal and ungift us and the Father would have to change His eternal will which chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
To worry that God will take it all back is to assume that God can fail and the trinity experience disunity.
- But can Christians choose to return the gift of salvation?
Anybody who wants to return salvation never had it.
This doesn’t mean that a Christian can’t backslide or disobey God – the disciples certainly did. But the person who says that they used to be a Christian but gave it back and is now happily reunited with the world, the flesh and the devil, never had Christ to begin with.
You don’t experience the freedom of a clear conscience and want a dirty one back;
You don’t get forgiveness from the guilt of sin and then decide you want the guilt back in your life;
You don’t live in the light of heaven and then want to go live in the darkness of this world and hell itself;
You don’t fellowship with the saints and sing the praise of God and then despise the church of the living Lord.
You don’t walk with Him, trust in Him, depend on Him and decide you never really needed Him after all.
John wrote in his first letter chapter 2:19 about these very people, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”
Those who genuinely belong to Christ, Peter writes, “are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time – the last hour.”
I love that phrase – you will be protected all the way to the wrapping up of time . . .
Which means nothing that occurs to you on this earth falls into the category of a final chapter. Your final chapter is heaven and that one goes on forever.
Adapted from Swindoll, p. 14
If we apply the truth of the resurrection:
- Then we ought to reveal a living hope and not pin our hopes on a dying world.
- We ought to recognize our eternal wealth in Christ and stop clamoring after temporary stuff.
- We ought to trust our future to Him and stop worrying that He’s unable to fulfill His promise.
4) We ought to be people of gladness and joy and not mirror the depressed, despairing culture around us.
Notice the repetition of Peter’s use of the word rejoice – in verse 6. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.
Peter isn’t saying we rejoice in the absence of trials, he’s saying we rejoice in spite of trials…
Verse. 7. So that the proof of your faith, begin more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8. and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.
Listen, if we really already know all this . . . if we really believe the gospel . . . if we really believe that Christ is not dead but alive . . . if we’re really getting it then the demonstration that we are getting it will be that we are people of joy.
How – we are preoccupied with the risen Christ.
Even though presented with various trials – the word for various – poikilos – means variegated or many colored – a multi-variety of trials.
The word is used in the New Testament for various diseases, various lusts, various miracles and various doctrines. Peter even used it to refer to manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4;10) – the many-colored grace of God; which means that for as many colors and shades and types of trials, God has grace to match.
Grace, perfectly suited for that particular trial.
Some of you, my friends, will prosper, you will have every financial need met and that will be a trial of its own making.
Some of you will encounter financial hardship. Some of you will experience sickness, while others in here will remain healthy most of their lives.
Some of you will live a long life, others may die young.
Some of you are going to face challenges in raising your children – one Christian leader told me recently that his daughter at the age of 16 announced to he and his wife that she didn’t believe the gospel of Christ and was admitting openly her unbelief.
Some Christians will have little difficulty in child rearing. Most parents will wrestle through where and how to educate their children. Some will put their kids in public school; some will put them in Christian school; some will put them in private school, some will home school, some will put them in boarding school, some will put them in the attic!
You’re gonna wrestle with physical infirmities . . . physical decisions . . . some of you will age with little trouble, others with a lot of trouble; some of you will attack it by eating only natural foods, whole grains, no white flour, no sugar, no coffee – which are all great to do – and you will live to the ripe old age of 95.
Others in here have already had two cups of coffee; you’re headed to Taco Bell after church because they have a special on chicken chalupa supremes (not that I would know) and before you go to bed tonight, you’re gonna eat a piece of double layered chocolate cake. And you will die at the age of 85, much happier!
Some of you are going to experience a far more difficult path than others.
The truth is, we get so bogged down with decisions and difficulties and challenges and pain and suffering and anxieties and on and on and we begin to mirror the despair and the depression and the discouragement of our world which is without a living hope.
We who have this hope are to be people of joy and people of mirth and people of gladness.
H. A. Ironside, once the pastor of Moody Church, was preaching in the open air in Chicago. A large crowd had gathered to hear him preach on salvation and the Christian life.
A well known agnostic community leader was in the crowd. He was a man who sowed skepticism and doubt in the scriptures and the reality of a personal God. He stepped forward and handed Ironside a note that read,
“I challenge you to a debate in the Science hall next Sunday afternoon.”
Ironside stopped and read the note aloud and then, said to this man;
I will be glad to debate with you on the reality of the Christian life, if you will do one thing . . . bring along with you one person from your sphere of influence; one person who was discouraged and defeated by life, not knowing where to turn or what to believe, until that person came and heard you lecture your agnostic beliefs. Dr. Ironside said, “Bring one person who, after hearing you speak, found peace of mind, victory over sin and a purpose for living . . . bring 1 and I will bring 100 and I will debate you.”
The agnostic turned on his heels and walked away.
Ladies and gentlemen, the unanswerable argument for Christianity is the Christian preoccupied and passionate about the living Christ.
The Christian who does more than say, “I already know all that!”; “I already got all that!”
How can we tell we’re really getting it?
By being people who:
- Do not pin our hopes on a dying world but reveal a living hope;
- Who do not clamor after worldly things, but revel in their eternal inheritance in Christ;
- Who do not worry that God will keep His promise, but trust their future to His power;
- Finally, who do not mirror the despairing world around them, but evidence a spirit and heart of gladness and joy.
In other words, these are the Christian who are not satisfied with hearing about Easter, but demonstrating there is life after Easter.
There are a dozen more demonstrations of Christ-preoccupied Christianity . . . we’ll see how many of them we can get to next Lord’s day.
Prayer – thanks for the gospel . . . the cross . . . the payment.
Song by David.