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

 

The X’s and O’s of Spiritual Warfare

Why were the Pharisees so troubled by Jesus? Why did they reject Him as their Messiah?

His claims were clear.  And His miracles provided sufficient evidence to prove He was the Messiah. He healed the blind, raised the dead, and cleansed lepers. What more did they want?

But neither His claims, nor His miracles convinced the Jewish leadership.

They condemned Him as an impostor and plotted to get rid of Him.

What did they miss? The real enemy.

Their Messiah was to sweep in, knock Caesar off his throne, defeat the evil Roman Empire and establish Israel as the pre-eminent nation in the world. But Rome was not the enemy.

The enemy, a trio of adversaries to be exact, was far more sinister and cunning. Satan, sin and death comprised the axis of evil that stood against the people of Israel and held them under their power.

The Pharisees missed this critical truth. They missed it because they did not know themselves. They were blind to their lost condition and the fact they were spiritually dead like everyone else in the world.

They needed a savior, One who knew the enemy and could defeat it at every turn. They needed Jesus.

In one crushing blow He defeated Satan, sin and death.

As for Satan and his band of demons, Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:15 (NIV)

As for sin, Jesus appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26 (NIV)

As for death, Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” 2 Timothy 1:10 (ESV)

Jesus knew the enemy, the real enemy of our souls. Through death and resurrection, He crushed them ending their reign once and for all.

Your enemy has been defeated. Rejoice in Christ’s victory for you and live as conquerors in life. This is truth that will set you free.

My Favorite Grace Verses

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4, 5NIV)

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24 NIV)

What are your favorite grace verses?

The Real Enemy

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” from The Art of War

Why was the Jewish leadership during the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry so troubled by Him? Why did they reject Him as their Messiah?

His claims were clear. His miracles provided sufficient evidence that He was indeed the Messiah. But neither of these convinced the Jewish leadership. To them, Jesus was an imposter. He was not fulfilling their job description for Messiah. He had to go.

What was their problem? They did not know the enemy.

Their Messiah was to sweep in, knock Caesar off his throne, defeat the evil Roman Empire and establish Israel as the pre-eminent nation in the world. But Rome was not the enemy. Their enemy, a trio of adversaries to be exact, was far more sinister and cunning. Satan, sin and death comprised this axis of evil and it was them that Jesus came to defeat.

The Jewish leadership of Jesus’ day missed this critical truth. They missed it because they did not know themselves. They were blind to their lost condition, the fact they were dead in sin like everyone else in the world.

They needed a savior and redeemer. They needed a deliverer. They needed a king who knew the enemy and could defeat him at every turn. They needed Jesus. As to the art of war, none can compare to Him. In one crushing blow He defeated Satan, sin and death.

  • As for Satan and his band of demons, Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:15 (NIV)
  • As for sin, Jesus “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26 (NIV)
  • As for death, Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” 2 Timothy 1:10 (ESV)

Jesus knew the enemy, the real enemy of our souls. Jesus’ work through His death and resurrection brought the dominion of Satan, sin and death to end for us. Makes me wonder. Should we look at the cross as the work of a suffering servant, or of that as a conquering king? We’ll take a look at that question next time.

For now, I’ll end with this. Recognizing the real enemy of our soul’s frees us to rejoice in Christ’s victory at the cross and to live as more than conquerors in our daily lives.

What's Love got to do with it?

Paul may be the first on record to give an answer. To him, it meant everything. Just check out 1 Corinthians 13. Love is more important than speaking in tongues or giving all that you have to the poor, or even having the faith to move mountains. As impressive as these may be (can you actually imagine that any of these would impress God?), if they are done without love, they are meaningless; just a bunch of noise makers. Of the three things that will remain, faith, hope and love, love tops the list.

It holds that top position because it is the very nature and character of God. John tells us, “God is love.” He is the source. When love flows through us, it comes from Him. It is not something we can produce through human effort or legalistic obedience. Love is the fruit of the Spirit. And it is the evidence that we have been born again and indwelt by the resurrected life of Christ. John put is this way, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7 ESV).

If you don’t know what love looks like, Paul paints a detailed picture. It is patient, kind, and never easily angered. Love does not keep records of wrongs, it does not delight in evil, and it always rejoices in truth. Love protects, trusts and hopes the best. Love perseveres. This is the love of God. This is how He loves you. This love never fails.

What’s love got to do with it? I hope in your life that His love means everything.

First Life, Then Change

I grew up reciting the Apostle’s Creed every Sunday. “The third day He arose again from the dead”; I affirmed this statement with reverential gusto. But outside the confines of the sanctuary it had little meaning to me. I had never reasoned that God actually had power over death, my spiritual death. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know that I was dead in sin.

The summer before my seventh grade year, the death of Jesus overwhelmed me. It was the last night of church youth camp. The pastor graphically portrayed the crucifixion. My heart ached and tears rolled down my cheeks as I realized Christ died for me. Right then and there, I knew I needed Jesus. I prayed and thanked Him for dying for me.

I asked Him to come into my life to help me become the best person I could be. The irony is that my life got worse. Temptations and peer pressures got the best of me. I wanted to be God’s guy. I tried valiantly, but life kept spiraling out of control. The things I wanted to do, I couldn’t. The things I didn’t want to do, I did. I wondered, “Why isn’t God helping me be a better person?

Jesus wasn’t interested in making me a little better. He was not marketing the latest self-improvement program. That is what I was looking for, but self-improvement is not what I needed. Jesus’ work is this: to take someone dead in sin and make him eternally alive.

News that a close friend had taken a drug overdose stirred a sense of desperation in me. I was on the same path. Something had to change.

I started attending a Bible study in Atlanta. Dan DeHann was the teacher. I liked him, and I listened to what he had to say. His message on Colossians 2 answered my heart’s cry. It was so clear that I wondered why I had never seen it before. Here was the verse that connected: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 2:13).

What this verse taught me boggled my mind. And it still does. God made me alive together with Christ. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, God directed toward me. I was raised spiritually to walk in the newness of life. Until that moment, Paul’s words to the Colossians were meaningless to me. I had made mistakes, committed sins, but still I was basically okay — a good kid, just off track. My hope was that Jesus could help me get back on track and make me the person I wanted to be. The problem was that the “me” I wanted to improve was actually dead in sin.

Admitting my spiritual death lifted a huge burden. I no longer had to try to fix something that was unfixable. However, this admission was frightful. Death is final, the end. It is unchangeable. No amount of human effort or ingenuity can reverse this sinister state. Mankind has tried, but to no avail. Dead is dead, and that is what I was spiritually. Control of my destiny was out of my hands. Life had to come from another source.

The Bible declares that God has power over death. That first Easter was a glorious, earth-shaking demonstration. This truth authored a belief inside of me that God could raise me to life. And He did. Resurrection is Jesus’ story, and through faith in the resurrected One it became my story.

Change wasn’t what I needed. I needed life. In my mind, it was first change, then life. God’s ways are not ours. With Him, it is first life then change.

You may be tired of the struggle to improve, to make your life better. You’ve asked God a thousand times or more for help, but nothing changes. Perhaps it’s time to step into the faith of Abraham and experience the reality of resurrection.