First Things First

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart and soul of the Christian faith. Without it, Christianity would not exist.

This is the sticking point for the critics and skeptics.

But it did happen. Jesus was raised from the dead. He’s alive today.

We believers stake everything on this one historical fact.

In this lesson, find out why

How Not to be Gods Guy

How is the Christian life really supposed to work?

For the longest time, I didn’t know the answer.

I wanted to be God’s guy. And to show God my sincerity on the matter, I made a vow to him that I would give it my best effort to be the best Christian I could be. It didn’t work out so well for me. I failed time and time again, but each time I did I promised to “try harder.”

Bottom line, I didn’t know what it meant to be a Christian or how the Christian life was supposed to work.

In this video lesson, Richard and I discuss the misconceptions we had about the Christian life, the ones that are common to many believers and the answers we discovered. And yes there are answers. There is a way out of the frustration, fear and guilt that leads to peace and joy. It’s all there for you as a gift from God, given by grace.

What is the Gospel?

Ask 100 people what the gospel is, you might get 100 different answers.

So, what is the right answer?

The word “Gospel” means good news.

It’s news that’s happened in the past, yet benefits the hearer today.

Check out this 2 minute video and discover how something that happened two thousand years ago can radically and completely change your life today.

Good News — Sunday is Here!

Have you ever heard the sermon, “It’s Friday, Sunday’s Coming?” I was introduced to this masterpiece in high school. A pastor friend borrowed it for one of his messages. That was almost forty years ago and I’ve never forgotten the message. I found a recording of this sermon on YouTube delivered by the great S.M. Lockridge. I’ve listened to it literally hundreds of times. I still get goose bumps every time I listen.

The preacher starts softly, “It’s Friday…Jesus is praying…Peter is sleeping…Judas is betraying…but Sunday’s coming.”

“It’s Friday,” he says again, this time a little louder. “The disciples are running like sheep without a shepherd…Mary’s crying…Peter is denying…but they don’t know that Sunday’s coming.”

He keeps repeating the phrase. With every turn, that horrible Friday grows darker and more hopeless.

“It’s Friday. See Jesus walking to Calvary…His blood dripping…His body stumbling…And his spirit’s burdened…But, you see, it’s only Friday, Sunday’s coming.”

“It’s Friday…The world’s winning…People are sinning…And evil’s grinning.

“It’s Friday…The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross…They nail my Savior’s feet to the cross…And then they raise him up next to criminals.”

“It’s Friday…But let me tell you something…Sunday’s coming.”

The cadence quickens.

“It’s Friday…He’s hanging on the cross…Feeling forsaken by his Father…Left alone and dying. Can nobody save him?”

“Oh, it’s Friday…But Sunday’s coming.”

“It’s Friday…The earth trembles…The sky grows dark…My King yields his spirit.”

“It’s Friday…Hope is lost…Death has won…Sin has conquered…And Satan’s just a-laughing.”

The pastor pauses briefly. His next words are stark, emptied of all emotion.

“It’s Friday…Jesus is buried…A soldier stands guard…And a rock is rolled into place.”

Friday ends in the worst possible way, but…

“It’s Friday. It is only Friday.

“Sunday is coming!”

With those last three words, the pastor fills that darkest day with light and hope.

If you ever hear this sermon, you’ll never forget it. To me, it is one of the most powerful, evangelistic sermons ever delivered.

I shared this sermon with you to make this point – Sunday is here!

On that third day, the huge stone was rolled away and Jesus walked out of his borrowed tomb. When the women went to the garden early Sunday morning, they were shocked by what they saw. “Who took his body away and where did they take it?” they wondered.

Jesus told them on seven different occasions that he would rise from the dead. The disciples did not understand what he meant, nor did the ladies that visited the tomb. When they saw the empty tomb, they did not think that he was alive. But he was, and he is today. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and He lives forevermore. This is the good news story.

Have you come to know this story?

I don’t mean as an historical fact. Has your dark, hopeless Friday come to an end — the searching, the restlessness, the emptiness, the guilt and shame? Have you found what you were looking for in the person of Jesus Christ? Has he given you new life?

If so, the resurrection story has become your story. Sunday is here for you. As John wrote in his gospel account, “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life” (John 6:47).

You have everlasting life.

Let that soak in.

Like Jesus, you’ve walked out of your spiritual tomb fully alive – raised to walk in the newness of life here and now. Sunday has arrived for you!

Excerpted from Simple Gospel, Simply Grace


He is Alive — The Christ Event!

In this Basic Gospel radio webcast, Richard and I tell the full Gospel story and share…

  • the significance of Jesus’s words, “It is finished.”
  • exactly how Jesus fulfilled the law
  • why the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus as Messiah
  • the good news that Jesus is alive!

At the end, we extend an invitation to receive Jesus as life. Sharing this message is a great way for you to help connect those you love to the resurrection story.

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

God does not count our sins against us. That isn’t logical to us. It is the the very opposite of the way our natural minds work. We want to keep a record of wrongs and count sins against others. It’s just the way the flesh operates.

With every wrong suffered, the flesh records that wrong in a mental spreadsheet. When appropriate, the flesh accesses that record to use against others to somehow even the score. Here’s how it works.

When we get hurt by the actions of others, we take note. It’s like a video record we store in our minds, a high definition, 3-D video, mind you. Every aspect of the event is stored in vivid detail. We know the who, what, when and how, and we give a lot of thought to the why. All this effort to keep a tally opens the door for resentment to creep in and set up shop in our minds.

The writer of Hebrews issued a strong warning about resentment and bitterness: “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15). Resentment is not content to merely stew. It wants to cause trouble. All kinds of evil thoughts begin racing through the mind, hatching a plan for revenge.

Does this sound familiar?

Once a plan for revenge is hatched, we wait for the perfect time and place for the payback. Then we tally the score. The record says that we are ahead, and the flesh is satisfied.

But love doesn’t do this. God does not do this. He reconciled you to himself in Christ, and he does not count your sins against you. God is not resentful when you sin, nor does he think evil. And that sin is not recorded in God’s books. His spreadsheet is empty.

As this truth sinks deep within our hearts and minds, it starts to shape how we treat one another.

Do you want to see the love of God in action in your marriage, your family, your relationship with your children, your friends, your fellow-workers and your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Throw the record of wrongs away. Rest in the truth that you have been reconciled to God in Christ, and that he is not counting your sins against you. And then rejoice in the truth that God is not counting the sins of others against them.

The heart of reconciliation and the foundation for strong, healthy relationships is this: Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Forgiveness and Grace

  • Did Jesus forgive some of your sins or all of them.
  • What does Jesus do today when you sin?
  • What is grace?
  • How does the grace of God empower us to live as children of God here and now?

I answer these questions in this short interview with my good friend John Hull.


The Crossover — What Happens the Moment You Believe!

“I’m going to shout this message from the rooftop.” That’s what my friend Jim told me the last time I saw him.

I met Jim while working at Piedmont Hospital during my senior year in college. He was 87 years of age. He had lived an interesting life, yet he had never given much consideration to God or Christianity. The day I met him, our conversation turned to Jesus. I told Jim that Christ died for him and was raised so that he could have eternal life.

Jim was drinking in every word. I knew I was watching a miracle in the making.

We prayed together. He expressed his faith in Christ with such simplicity and ease. He was so focused on Jesus, I think I could have left the room and he would have never known. When Jim opened his eyes, he was a new man.

Jim never made it out of the hospital. However, in the three weeks after receiving Christ, he shouted the message from his bedside and told everyone who entered his room that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

What happened to Jim? I call it the crossover. As Jesus said, “whoever hears my words and believes…has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). This is what happens to anyone who trusts in Jesus.

In this teaching message, I share the depths of what it means to crossover from death to life. Once you watch, I think you will see why this is news worth shouting from the rooftops.

In, But Not Of…

You may have heard this popular saying in Christian circles: “We are in the world, but not of the world.” This saying isn’t in the Bible, but it does summarize what the Bible says on the subject.

This idea is a central theme that runs through Jesus’ prayer for his disciples.

“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11 NIV).

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world” (John 17:14 NIV).

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” John 17:15 (NIV).

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” John 17:16-17 (NIV).

John carries this theme through his letter as well. Yes, we live in this world, but we are not of it. We do not belong. We are, as Peter wrote, “aliens and strangers in the world.” We do not fit in anymore.

When the Bible speaks of the world, it is not referring to planet earth. The world refers to the world system. It consists of “the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does” (1 John 2:16). These things do not come from God, and they will pass away. Only those who do the will of God will live forever. The backdrop for this new way of life — doing the will of God — for now is the world system.

This world system had its genesis at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All the elements became fully operational. Eve wanted to be like God – the cravings of sinful man. She saw that the fruit of the tree was pleasing to the eye – the lust of the eyes. And it was desirable for gaining wisdom – the boasting of what we have and do. Mankind has been feeding on that tree ever since. The system is built on unbelief. It is expressed through the deeds of darkness.

Some of these deeds can look good on the surface. For example, the Pharisees prayed in public. Prayer is good, and the Bible encourages us to pray. However, for them prayer was nothing more than an empty, dead work. Their prayers were motivated by the wisdom they gained from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus warned against this type of praying. “And when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth. They have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5).

These hypocrites were operating from a heart of unbelief. From that heart, they reinterpreted the law, the Mosaic Covenant, to establish their own standard for righteousness. They took what was holy, righteous and good and molded it to the world system. Paul was one of those guys. He boasted of being faultless as to legalistic righteousness.

After meeting Jesus, he clearly saw that this wasn’t the righteousness of God. He wrote: “Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Romans 10:3). Paul continued; “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). Here, Paul draws the line between the way of the world and the way of Christ. It is the difference between law and grace. Resurrection life is lived by grace through faith.

Excerpted from Simple Gospel, Simply Grace