Enough! (Easter 2021)
Apostles’ Creed #4
1 Corinthians 15:1-6
The Apostles’ Creed says... and we profess every Sunday, as we worship God, that “I believe”, or we believe, in Jesus Christ... God‘s only Son, our Lord... who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified died and was buried... but on the third day he rose... he was resurrected!
As you’ve heard in countless Easter sermons - the Resurrection is, honestly, one of the more extraordinary and outstanding claims in all of history! Foolishness to many - but as God’s Word reminds us, it’s power of God to those who are being saved!
It’s certainly why there are volumes upon volumes of books on the evidence for the resurrection... there are countless dissertations that debate the evidence for the resurrection... most of the Easter sermons that’ll be delivered today will present the evidence: the empty tomb, the eyewitnesses, the Disciples’ willingness to be martyred... the explosive growth of the early church.
Today, being Easter... I want us to think, not ONLY about the claims of the resurrection (as most of us gathered together on Easter Sunday have accepted the claim of resurrection)... I want us to also think about the implications of the resurrection.
Did you know that there have been other people who have claimed to be raised from the dead through-out history? Many others, actually! But... I’d be willing to bet my lunch money this morning (if I were a betting man) that not one of you can name even one of those people.
Of course, the reason we can’t name the others, is because there’s no substantiation for their claims. There was no movement that grew around, and from their claims.
The fact is, it’s not just the claim of resurrection by itself it’s significant. It’s also the idea that there’s evidence to support that claim... that it actually happened!
But... what’s even more significant... is that the evidence of the resurrection allows us to benefit from all the claims that radiate out of the resurrection.
Think about it...
~If the resurrection is true then Jesus IS who he says he is. Jesus does have all authority in heaven and on earth! Authority over life and death!
~If the resurrection is true, then Jesus is the full revelation of the love and power of God.
~If the Resurrection’s true then Jesus does have the ability to forgive our sins to reconcile us to our Creator.
~If the resurrection is true, Jesus has the power to assure us of eternal life.
It’s these claims, substantiated by the evidence of the resurrection... it’s these claims that carry the power to actually change our lives... it’s these claims that carry the promise that we need not Fear death, and that we need not fear life.
It’s these claims that stand at the heart of the Gospel.
And that’s important, because when you and I recite the Apostles’ Creed, weekend and week out... together, in unison in this place… we’re not just reciting antiquated words from some old creed that has no bearing upon our life and faith.
We don’t recite these words… We don’t profess “I believe”… because the church has been doing it for the better part of 2000 years… BUT... we do it... because to profess the Apostles’ Creed, is to profess the Gospel… the good news of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes our recitation of the Creed is for ourselves... as in, we need to be reminded of the Good News, personally (I know I need to be reminded, often). Other times, it’s a proclamation for others... declaring to all who hear it, that we do in fact, believe.
And that means... above all else, especially on Easter Sunday... that we, as followers of Jesus Christ… need to understand the Gospel. We need to hear the Gospel spoken into our hearts… and we need to be willing to proclaim it, for the hearing of others...
The Gospel helps us come to the reality of our brokeness, our helplessness, our sin. For the fact is, our sin is worse than we could ever imagine - but - Christ’s grace and mercy are greater than we’d ever dare hope!
It’s the Gospel - the Good News - that helps us live life to the full... (not just marking time, constantly, endlessly trying to overcome sin in an effort to be good enough to earn God’s favor and blessings)... it’s the Gospel that lights the path, showing us the Way... helping us find joy and hope and peace... and forgiveness - complete forgiveness... in the reality of God’s grace - magnified, and personified, in Jesus Christ.
Lifeway and Ligonier ministries sponsored a survey of believers, followers of Christ, a short while ago, asking some basic questions regarding faith and belief in America today. And one stat stood out as particularly relevant for our conversation today, on Easter Sunday!
52% of those surveyed, said that good works, or doing good deed, helps us earn salvation. In other words, over half of professing believers... have an unbiblical view of salvation. A view that’s not based on the Gospel.
Romans 3:21 ff, “now apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”
The point being... all have sinned, all fall short. And no amount of good works or deeds will ever change that! Only faith in the resurrected Christ delivers us from sin and self... only faith is Christ saves. That’s the Gospel, my friends. That’s the incredibly Good News.
Of course, we... good Presbyterians... often live as if it’s all on us! It’s all about us... and what we say, and what we do, and how we act, and how we respond... we. We. WE!
But, in doing so... you and I sometimes forget the Truth... the Gospel promise, that actually... realistically... biblically... it’s not about us, at all. It’s all about Christ, and what Christ has done for us... and what He’s doing in us... and through us...
What a liberating reality! That I can never (ever) be good enough... I can never do enough good, to ever merit my forgiveness. But Christ can... and did... do enough. And all we need do, is believe that what he did, is in fact, enough.
Christ is risen... Christ is risen, indeed!
For this is the word of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God. Amen.