“Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.” 1 Corinthians 15:11-21 (NASB)
I know that I didn’t really do much advertising for this series, and that’s because I was out of commission for a couple of weeks. I wrote that I was going to do this series in the March 2015 Newsletter, but it’s a joy to be doing this series because I’ve been quietly hoping for an opportunity to walk through some kind of series like this with Evangelist Billy Graham. Who better to walk through Holy Week with then a man that’s spent most of his adult life preaching the very reason that Jesus came, and leading millions to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
So, I’m not sure how far into this message I’m going to get, but I’ll make sure that we wrap this series up before the sun comes up on Easter morning. I know that many of us (my family included) will be having Easter Dinner and Church services…and I don’t want to get in the way of that. So, I’ll be making sure this series is wrapped up before the sun rises on Resurrection Sunday.
Until then, I’m going to work through this series, and trust the Lord to help me write and the Holy Ghost to help you to hear and respond to what He’s going to speak to us through each message, and through this series. So, I will make sure that we finish this series on time no matter what it takes, and so let’s get into the second of seven messages in this series and see what the Lord wants to speak to us through it. Amen!?!
Praise & Worship:
During this week I feel like we need to take a few steps away from mainstream worship music to go back to some of the songs that really capture the essence of what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth. I don’t think there’s two songs that are sung by two people who understand that worshiping God isn’t a performance or show it’s not about the singer or musicians even if it is Darlene Zschech and Michael W Smith. So, I found this video on YouTube, and I couldn’t think of a better song to accompany the second message of this series. Here they are singing Shout to The Lord & Agnus Dei together!
Preparing for Resurrection Sunday–The Order of Resurrection:
It seems to me like there’s a major disconnect these days between the church and the Cross. I mean these days you are more likely to hear messages on the seed of Abraham than you are the Cross of Christ. You are more likely to hear sermons talking about the Abundant Life, and all kinds of things…but rarely talked about anymore is the Cross, and I can admit that I probably don’t write enough on the Cross either. In reality…every message should have the Cross, the Gospel, and Christ…because you can’t have one without the other. I am still drawn to preachers like Jimmy and Donnie Swaggart and Billy and Franklin Graham that haven’t forsaken the Cross of Christ in their messages and their teaching.
Talking about how to increase our faith is great, but what our faith is in is more important than increasing it. If the Cross isn’t the object of our faith we will never truly understand that on that old rugged Cross the preachers no longer talk about was where our salvation, healing and everything else we need to live the Christian life was provided to each person that finds themselves kneeling at the foot of once they realize they need Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
So, let’s get into today’s message and give Evangelist Billy Graham the opening word…
As we gaze on a confused and frustrated world, this Scripture comes to mind: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
The Cross isn’t foolishness to me it’s the very place that I laid my life down, and Christ picked it up to take it where it’s at today. I can’t look at the Cross without understanding that very place that cost Jesus His life was the very thing that very literally saved mine. The Cross saved my life not just for eternity, folks…but for the here and now. The Cross rescued me from death, hell, and the grave. The Cross gave me hope, and helped me to see that my life was worth living and that even if no one else in the world needed me or loved me or wanted me…God had something for me to do…and the Cross is what gave me the strength to go on when I didn’t think I could any longer. The Cross still holds a wondrous attraction to me, and it’s because that’s the place that all of this that you are reading today began. There’s no Christlike Ministries NWA without the Cross of Christ.
And I have news for all those preachers who have left the Cross out of their teaching. If it wasn’t for the Cross Mr. Warren and Mr. Osteen and Mr. Dollar and Mrs. Meyers and everyone else that talks about everything else but the Cross…there wouldn’t be anything worth preaching about. The funny thing is while people are looking around confused and frustrated with the world I am frustrated with the Body of Christ because of the fact that there is so little mention about the Blood of Jesus that washes away our sin, and the Cross of Calvary where the spotless, sinless Lamb of God was slain.
That’s why we sing songs like “Shout To the Lord” because He took out His own wrath upon Himself so that if we would accept what He did on the Cross for us by faith that we wouldn’t have to face His wrath ourselves…but we don’t seem to want to preach that anymore. We want to preach about the blessing of Abraham like the only blessing Abraham had was wealth. We want to preach about how to live our best lives now and how we can be overcomers and all those things are wonderful to talk about but the problem is that we have entire segments of the Body of Christ that don’t know the Gospel, they don’t know what the Cross is or did, and they don’t understand anything about Reconciliation or Grace because they don’t understand that everything we need in the Christian life begins and ends with the Cross.
True disciples of Christ teach the same thing they did when they were establishing the church in the Book of Acts. They weren’t preaching about anything other than Jesus Christ and Him Crucified and the church exploded because that was the message the world needed to hear then…and it’s the message the world needs to hear now. They don’t need anymore sermons about planting seeds to reap a harvest they need to hear about how they can be saved. The disciples didn’t care if their sermons weren’t entertaining enough or that they didn’t have enough illustrations or jokes or whatever the sermon helps are today…they simply preached Christ. They preached about the Cross. They preached the Gospel. They preached that there was one name by which we could be saved. Those are the things that made the early church explode with success…and those are the very same things the world needs to hear today.
The idea of our world being saved by Christ on the cross was foolishness to the proud and boastful Corinthians of the Apostle Paul’s time, who thought that the wisdom of the world was vested in them. And there are many people like them today. But how different it is for those of us who in simple faith know Christ and Him crucified. For us, as the apostle wrote, the cross of Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
There are many people like the people in Corinthians today, and many of them stand up to preach on Sunday. There are so many that have forgotten what they were like when they found themselves on their knees at the foot of the very Cross they refuse to preach about. They forgot how attractive the Cross was when they had no where else to go, and they act like they haven’t sinned in years. They lean upon their years of ministry and walking with the Lord. They rely upon everything they have done and learned from the Bible that they no longer preach.
For me, however, the Cross is the power and wisdom of God. For me, however, the Cross is where I died with Christ, and began to become the new creation in Christ that’s penning these messages today. As I have said without the Cross there is no Christlike Ministries NWA. Without the Cross there is no Pastor Bryan. Without the Cross there is no hope, no reconciliation, and no chance to spend eternity with Jesus.
And with that let’s give Evangelist Billy Graham the last word of this message.
We have been saved by His grace and mercy. We do not deserve it, we did not pay for it, we did not work for it. It has been given to us as a gift. It is by the work of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross—and by His resurrection—that we can claim any right to the great Kingdom that is yet to come.
Father God, we pray that when the world looks at us they see that our hope is in You. Forgive us for the times we place our hope in our own knowledge, understanding, or experiences. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This Religious Freedom thing is really becoming quite a mess isn’t it!?! I have had some people turn away from me because I happen to understand what the intent of the legislation is, and what it’s not…but I’ve never been worried about being popular. When I chose to accept the call to ministry I also chose to take God’s side on social issues no matter how popular or unpopular God’s side of the issues are, and I refuse to give in to the lie that I have to compromise my convictions to prove my love for those who are engaged in lifestyles that God’s Word doesn’t agree with. I have always followed the rule of love the sinner…hate the sin…and I always will.
With that said, I’m going to close this message so that I can get it proofread and posted. I will leave you with one final thought from Mr. Graham.
When others look at you, do they see the hope that you have in Christ, both for this life and for eternity?
Have a blessed day in the Lord!
Blessings & Grace;