How We Know Jesus Christ Rose from the Dead
It is no secret the entire Christian faith is built upon the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The claims of Jesus Christ to be the Son of God depend upon his bodily resurrection from the dead.
Furthermore, the truthfulness of all Jesus taught hinges upon his bodily resurrection from the dead. If he did not rise again as he promised he is a fraud. His word cannot be trusted and worse yet we are still in our sins.
But this question has far reaching implications for the rest of the world as well. If Christ did rise again, then the question of world religions is over.
After all, if Jesus conquered death validating his unique standing as the God-man he is in truth Lord of all.
If Christ rose again, then all are accountable to him.
If Christ rose again, then all are compelled to worship him and confess he is both Lord and Savior of the world. Failure to do so will result in eternal loss.
We come then for a brief examination of this most important question: Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead?
The Testimony of the Empty Tomb
In an attempt to explain away the resurrection some people claim Jesus never really died. However, the gospels make it very clear Pilate would not release the body of Jesus for burial until his death was confirmed.
In fact, the centurion in charge was called before Pilate to confirm Jesus was dead. Only then would Pilate grant permission for Joseph of Arimathaea to take the body for burial.
Furthermore, the day following the burial of Jesus Matthew’s gospel records the following:
“The chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch (guard): go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”
It is a historical fact that Jesus died at the hands of Pontius Pilate and was taken from the cross with Pilate’s permission by those who prepared his body for burial. It is a fact his grave site was secured by Pilate lest anyone tamper with his grave.
The Scripture continues in Matthew’s gospel with these words:
“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week . . . there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it . . . and for fear of him the guards did shake, and became as dead men.”
Those guards wasted no time scurrying away from the tomb with some reporting their eyewitness account to the chief priests.
In short order women arrived at the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. And to the surprise of the first women arriving early that morning the great stone covering the entrance to the tomb was rolled away.
The Scripture says, “And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Narareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.”
Again in Luke’s gospel it says those who entered the sepulcher “found not the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:3).
Right here is the greatest evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His tomb is empty!
Later when the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of Jesus all the enemies of Christianity needed to do to silence them was produce the dead body of Jesus. But they could not!
So how could the enemies of Christ explain the empty tomb? The empty tomb was clearly there for all of Jerusalem to see. And just how would they attempt to counter the eyewitness testimony of those who confirmed his resurrection?
The only explanation they could devise was the pathetic idea the disciples stole the body. They actually spread that lie. And sadly they placed a horrible stumbling block before many who refused to accept the reality Jesus arose from the dead.
But my friend, a simple examination of the circumstances should dispel that idea completely.
In order to steal the body of Jesus from the tomb the disciples first needed to over-power a band of rugged Roman soldiers guarding the tomb.
Next, they would need to move the huge stone from the entrance of the tomb.
Next, once actually inside the tomb in order to mimic a resurrection they would take the dead body and carry the corpse to some other location.
Of course, they would do so with the full knowledge that as soon as the Roman authorities caught up with them the death penalty was a certainty. All of that for a dead man! No, no my friend! The disciples did not steal the body of Jesus.
In addition to the fact they did not steal the body of Jesus, it should be clearly noted the disciple’s state of mind precluded any attempt at such an outlandish idea. The death of Christ in public humiliation crushed the spirit of these men. They were confused and disillusioned.
They thought Jesus to be the promised messiah and now he was dead. All their hopes were dashed to pieces. Afraid and uncertain as to what the future held for them they hid from the authorities for fear of their own lives.
Again, they had neither the motivation nor the means to steal the body of Jesus. Upon examination of the false assertion the disciples stole the body of Jesus we conclude such a suggestion is totally untenable. Simply stated the disciples could not and did not steal the dead body of Jesus from that tomb.
Rather, the real explanation for the empty tomb lies in the reality the Spirit of God visited that tomb and raised Jesus from the dead!
When news of the resurrection came to Peter and John they both ran to the tomb. And when John arrived he looked into the tomb and saw the empty grave clothes.
But when Peter got there he went all the way into the sepulcher and not only saw the empty grave clothes, but he also saw the napkin once placed around the head of Jesus not lying with the linen clothes. Instead it was wrapped together in a place by itself.
Think about the implication of what they saw. The body of Jesus was gone and mysteriously the cloth used to wrap his head was neatly folded and laid aside from the other grave clothes.
Can’t you see the picture Scripture is painting for us? Here is what clearly happened. The power of God visited that tomb and the dead body of Jesus was quickened and raised from the dead.
The risen Christ proceeded to neatly fold the napkin once about his head. Obviously the only way that napkin could be found in such a condition required someone inside the tomb to fold it and lay it apart from the other linen clothes. The only one who could do so would be Jesus himself.
The testimony of the empty tomb includes the picture of these mysterious empty grave clothes and the neatly folded napkin. Both declare a bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
After this necessary "house cleaning" on the part of Jesus, with a mighty earthquake the angel of the Lord rolled away the stone and the glorified Christ walked out of the tomb!
His Enemies Could Not Produce His Dead Body
Next, it should be pointed out that the enemies of Christ actually confirm the resurrection.
As mentioned above, to dispel the resurrection all the enemies of Christ need do was produce his dead body. If there was no resurrection surely those who painstakingly secured the tomb to prevent such a rumor from ever occurring in the first place would follow-up on misguided claims of a resurrection in order to fully embarrass those claiming Jesus rose from the dead.
In so doing the discovery of the dead remains of Jesus would forever squelch the preposterous self-proclamations of the Nazarene to be “the resurrection and the life.”
However, those who participated in the crucifixion of Christ and had the most invested in completely destroying his memory could not disprove the resurrection. They could not produce his dead body.
Remember, all of Jerusalem was aware of the death of Jesus. As well, it had to be common knowledge Joseph of Arimathaea, a well known prominent Jew, buried him in his own new sepulcher.
No doubt many in the city visited Joseph’s tomb for themselves and discovered it was empty. No doubt they soon heard the false report instigated by the Pharisees that the disciples came and stole the body.
But the informed among the population knew the tomb was guarded by the Roman authorities. Surely they logically wrestled with the question as to how the disciples could steal the body from the tomb.
And if they did steal the body, why is no one tracking them down and recovering the dead remains to disprove the whole idea of a resurrection?
In spite of the lie fabricated to hide the reality of the resurrection, the enemies of Christ could not overcome the fact of the empty tomb. Nothing they put forth could provide a satisfactory explanation.
Soon they would be engaged by the bold preaching of eyewitnesses testifying to the world they saw the resurrected Christ. These passionate men were the same ones who watched him die and who just a few weeks earlier were hiding in fear of their lives.
Mark this down: the enemies of Christ could not produce his dead body and Jerusalem’s well informed knew this to be the case. Their inability to produce the dead body of Jesus serves as a powerful confirmation of his resurrection!
By the Testimony of the Roman Soldiers Guarding the Tomb
Matthew’s gospel states that “there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it . . . And for fear of him the keepers (guards) did shake, and became as dead men . . . behold, some of the watch (guard) came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done” (Matt. 28:2, 4, 11).
Please note there was no doubt among the soldiers as to what happened at the grave site. They felt the earthquake. They saw the stone rolled away. They most likely heard the report to the woman, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:5-6).
These seasoned Roman soldiers became as dead men in the face of this experience! And at least some of them went immediately to the chief priests and elders to report the empty tomb.
In light of this report the only option available to the enemies of Christ was an attempt to hide the truth from the general population. How wicked! How devious! How akin to their father the devil to instigate a lie in an effort to cover the truth. But understand this: those Roman soldiers actually testified to the empty tomb!
By the Testimony of the Jewish Rulers Who Sought to Oppress the Truth
As previously noted the Jewish rulers could not produce the dead body of Jesus. In fact, they knew in light of the testimony of the Roman soldiers at the tomb that they could never produce the dead body of Jesus. Their actions to facilitate a cover-up actually bear testimony to the reality of the resurrection.
Sadly Matthew reports that this fabricated lie was “reported among the Jews until this day.” At the time Matthew recorded his gospel this lie still circulated among the Jewish community. Perhaps this lie remains a stumbling block for some until this very day.
But know this: this lie was only needed because they had no other way to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
By the Eyewitness Accounts of Those Who Saw and Talked with the Risen Christ
How do we know Jesus Christ rose from the dead? We know because of the overwhelming testimony of eyewitnesses. Hundreds of people saw Jesus alive from the dead (1 Cor. 15:6).
The bodily resurrection of Jesus was confirmed by those who saw him and touched him and talked with him after the resurrection. The apostles in particular were called to be witnesses to the world of the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Hear the testimony of these men. The apostle John said, “. . . we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father . . . that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled . . . for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you…”
The apostle Peter said, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty . . .”
As well, the book of Acts declares: “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.”
All these men possessed the same conviction. The Jesus they walked with for three and one-half years, the Jesus they communed with at the last supper, the Jesus they forsook, the Jesus they saw beaten and humiliated, the Jesus they saw die in shame, the Jesus they knew to be buried in a rich man’s tomb WAS NOW ALIVE! THEY KNEW HE CONQUERED DEATH!
Thomas expressed their conviction best. When he saw the risen Lord I believe he bowed at the feet of Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God.” Remember, Thomas is famous for his skepticism. He did not immediately embrace the truth of the resurrection.
Even though the others testified to him of the risen Christ he refused to believe until he could see the Lord for himself. A week later, Jesus confronted Thomas and invited him to touch the scars in his body—and not to doubt but to believe.
Upon seeing the Lord I believe he bowed at his feet as he proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” His doubts were over. He went on to serve as an apostle and an eyewitness to the resurrection. The eyewitness testimony of the apostles, along with that of hundreds of others who also saw the risen Christ, should be enough to convince anyone he arose from the dead!
The following timeline courtesy of Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/resurrection/the-sequence-of-christs-post-resurrection-appearances/
It should be noted the apostles went on to confirm the resurrection with many mighty works in the name of Jesus. Their testimony and those works bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the apostles ultimately died as martyrs in testimony to the overwhelming conviction Jesus rose from the dead. They could not deny what they knew to be true. They could not deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It should also be noted that the Christian church cannot be explained apart from the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead. The existence of the church for nearly twenty centuries bears testimony to the risen Christ who prophesied he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
And finally, we have the testimony of the written Word of God. The record God gives of His Son in Holy Scripture is emphatic. Jesus rose from the dead!
The resurrection of Christ is central to the whole New Testament which ends with the message of the future Revelation of the risen Christ at his second coming.
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is beyond doubt. Only those bent upon persisting in willful unbelief deny the resurrection of Christ. However, it is possible for all to come to a place of repentance through the witness of the Spirit of God.
I plead with you to listen to the call of God in your own heart. The risen Christ offers you the gift of eternal life through the witness of the gospel. Will you confess him as your Lord and Savior?
Thomas did so and his testimony should help all of us believe. While he saw Christ and believed Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
The gospel of John goes on to say, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:28-31).
God requires all men to respond in faith to his Word. This is incumbent upon all men everywhere. God has commanded all to repent and place personal faith in his Son for salvation upon hearing his Word. Have you done so?
Here is God’s promise to all who will believe upon the resurrected Christ:
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, THOU SHALT BE SAVED.”
If you have never done so, please make that decision right now. With an honest heart simply confess the Lord in a prayer like this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. I accept your death on the cross as the full payment for all of my sin. Right now I trust you alone to forgive me and to save me. I believe you died for me and you rose from the dead for me. Right now I invite you to come into my heart as I confess you as my Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord Jesus for loving me and saving me.”
Amen! May the Lord fill you with the joy of His salvation is my prayer.
Drifting Toward Eternal Ruin
With the passing of another year each one of us are a step closer to eternity. The passing of each year reminds us in a very stark way that life indeed is like a vapor that appears for just a little time and then vanishes away.
While those who know the Lord Jesus are heading toward home, those outside of Christ are drifting toward eternal ruin.
I believe the Son of God. I believe every word he spoke concerning the dangers of eternal loss. Jesus said plainly, “. . . fear God who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
The Lord Jesus warns repeatedly of the danger of eternal loss. Jesus clearly teaches that hell is a place of eternal, conscious existence apart from the presence of the Lord.
For example he says of the lost, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:46).
Again Jesus says at his return, “And the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
John the Baptist warned that Jesus would “. . . thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The fire of a real hell is the expression of God’s holy passion against all sin, ungodliness, and the rebellion of those who refuse to repent and receive the mercy and grace available through his Son.
In fact, it will be the Son of God who purges his floor and separates the wheat from the chaff. The Lord Jesus will “burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The word unquenchable means that the fires of hell will burn forever. They cannot be extinguished. As the eternal ages roll on and on the anguish and groans of the lost will be unrelenting. Those in the lost condition will find no rest for the soul.
Furthermore Jesus says, “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
I ask you, what is it that keeps you from repentance? What sin do you love more than Christ? . . . What have you cast your eye on? . . . What possesses your heart in the place of the Savior?
Better that you pluck out your eye so to speak and live without it than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Cast aside whatever has captivated your heart and turn to Christ. Don’t weigh the cost . . . Pluck it out!
You say, but preacher if I turn to Christ I will be leaving behind my livelihood. So be it! Christ has something far better. Like Moses of old you should esteem reproach for Christ greater riches than the treasure in Egypt.
Moses discerned properly that whatever he lost in this temporal world as a result of following Christ could not be compared to the reward of following Christ! Many need to wake up to the same reality before it is too late.
Again, what is it that is keeping you from confessing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? I know this much: it is some kind of sin . . . it is love of this world . . . it is some misguided loyalty to a false spirituality. Indeed, these are the common denominators that bind men in willful unbelief.
But will you turn before it is too late?
Jesus said to a certain crowd, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40). Again Jesus said, “I am the bread of life . . . I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat this bread, he shall live forever” (John 6:35, 51).
Today many of you are drifting toward eternal ruin, but you can turn. You can come to Christ and believe upon him. You can repent. You can turn in your heart from sin and turn to Christ. And when you humble your heart he will save you!
Jesus says if you will come to him, he will under no circumstance “cast you out.” Jesus Christ came to save you from the lost condition. He did not come to condemn you. Rather, he came to deliver you from the lost condition. He came to seek and to save those who are lost.
Another year has passed. Yet many of you are still in your sins. You are neglecting your soul. There is but a step between you and death, yet you resist the call of God. You are in great danger.
Jesus says that those who die in their sins cannot come to heaven (John 8:21). In the same passage of Scripture Jesus said, “ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
Clearly, Jesus did not teach that everyone is going to heaven. However, he does offer the gift of eternal life to all who will come to him and believe upon him.
But what does it mean to “believe upon Jesus.” In the verse I just quoted Jesus says you must believe that he is the promised Messiah—Immanuel, God come in the flesh, the Son of Man and the Son of God. His words were, “if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
This is essential. No one is free to redefine the person of Christ. A great many people to this very day embrace the idea expressed in this question: Who is Jesus to you? How subtle. How dangerous. As though we are all free to make of Jesus whatever fits our own worldview.
Have you ever heard a math teacher say, “What is 2 + 2 to you?”
Perhaps some would say, 2+2=5 for them. Perhaps another would say, 2+2=9. And I could go on. Of course, you immediately understand the folly of such reasoning. 2+2=4. Period!
Strangely, when it comes to the person of Christ many, who should know better, feel at liberty to deny his unique person as the Son of God. They want a Jesus who is not the Lord. They want a Jesus who is not the only way to heaven by virtue of his atoning death on the cross and bodily resurrection from the dead.
Such people may be busy creating their own brand of spirituality, but they are going to die in their sins and where Jesus is they cannot come! They are lost.
I believe Jesus is the Lord. True Christians confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus Christ! True Christians are not busy denying the deity of Christ and the Lordship of Christ. True Christians know he is the way, the truth, and the life.
On the other hand, those who refuse to believe that he is the unique Son of God are yet in their sins. Tragically, such people are living with a false hope. And with the passing of another year they are one step closer to a place Jesus describes as outer darkness.
Three times in Matthew’s gospel Jesus uses the phrase, outer darkness. For example he says, “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30).
Outer darkness speaks of separation from the Kingdom of God. It speaks of being on the outside looking in. It speaks of the lost condition. It speaks of separation from God. It speaks of hopelessness.
Somewhere beyond the reach of the new heavens and the new earth where God will dwell in eternity with the redeemed, there is a place of “outer darkness.”
It is God’s eternal penitentiary. It is beyond the reach of God’s grace. The light never shines there. It is the place of the second death. Sadly, as 2017 begins to unfold the slow drift toward eternal ruin continues for a vast sea of humanity.
I need to remind you that no one has an excuse for rebellion against God. No one has an excuse for resisting the witness of God. While it is true that all go astray, it is also true that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
In Titus chapter two we find these words,
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:11-15).
I believe in order to end up lost in eternity the unbeliever must actually resist the Holy Spirit. Jesus once wept over Jerusalem with these words,
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34).
Think about what Jesus is saying. Look at his heart. He speaks of Jerusalem but his mind is on both the city and all his people according to the flesh. He deeply desired to gather the Jewish people to himself, but they would not.
In other words, they resisted his call. They resisted his invitation to come. In effect they were resisting the Holy Spirit.
You may recall the Spirit-filled preaching of a deacon in the early church by the name of Stephen. He was full of faith and power, and did great wonders among the people. But his enemies did not appreciate his powerful presentation of Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world.
So they stirred a great crowd against him and brought him before the council of local leaders to have him punished. However, he preached boldly to them and at the end of his sermon he made this powerful indictment against the crowd:
He said, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it” (Acts 7:51-53).
When the crowd heard those words they were cut to the heart and proceeded to abuse Stephen and stone him to death!
But notice the discernment of Stephen. He said they were guilty of “resisting the Holy Ghost.” Likewise, many in our day are guilty of doing the same thing. May I ask you a question: are you guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit?
The call of God is real. The work of the Spirit is real. Don’t ever doubt this. Men and women are without excuse. In one way or other those who end up lost are guilty of resisting the Lord. He called, but they would not come.
Are you drifting toward eternal ruin? If you die in 2017 are you ready for eternity? There is only one way to be ready: you must repent and give your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Death certainly is no respecter of person. It claims the famous, the wealthy, the unknown, the poor. Some who left this life in 2016 include:
Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
But where are these souls right now? I am not the final judge of anyone, nor are you. But Jesus Christ is the Judge. Jesus said,
“For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father which has sent him” (John 5:22-23).
This much I know. Any man or woman who leaves this life without Jesus Christ is lost. But I also know this. Jesus knows his sheep and gives them eternal life. He said,
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28a).
What about you? Are you drifting toward eternal ruin? Isn’t it time to come to Christ? He is calling today.
If You Are Wrong About Jesus--
Nothing Else Matters
The Bible could not be clearer. There is only one true God and he sent His Son into the world for our salvation. Eternal life is wrapped up in a personal relationship to the one true, living God through His only begotten Son—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Of course the truthfulness of our text should make a careful study of Holy Scripture and a pursuit of the knowledge of God through His word imperative. If eternal life is at stake, if one’s eternal well being is at stake, if the lack of a personal relationship to Christ leaves you totally unprepared for what lies beyond the last human experience we call death, then no stone should be left unturned until you know him in the free pardon of your sin.
Our text makes it abundantly clear that no one possesses eternal life until they know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior . . . Do you know Jesus Christ as Savior? Do you bow before him as Lord? Do you confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus and do you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead? Do you fully trust the death of the divine Son of God for your salvation? Or do you refuse to bow the knee? Do you explain away Holy Scripture? Do you refuse to accept the record God gives of His own dear Son?
My friend, eternity beacons. Soon the old Jordan River will cast its waters at your feet. Soon this brief life must give way to eternal ages. Soon either the glories of heaven will unfold with endless day or the groans of a devil’s hell will encompass your soul in endless night.
Jesus Christ says there are two distinct roads traveled by the masses of humanity. Many are traveling the broad road that leads to destruction and everlasting ruin. He says others are travelling the narrow road that leads to life. Which road are you travelling?
I implore you today. Do not deceive yourself. Apart from a personal relationship to Jesus Christ death is to be feared as the doorway to hopeless, endless separation from the presence of the Lord! Christ is the door by which you must enter to be saved. If you attempt to go another way Christ himself condemns you as nothing more than a thief and a robber (John 10:1). His language is meant to illustrate the futility of pursuing acceptance with the Father by any other means than his own precious blood. Indeed, the way of the cross leads home. There is no other way to possess eternal life. You must know the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ whom he sent. You must come through the door!
But alas my friends, false spirituality abounds as Satan blinds the eyes of those who do not believe. Satan is busy casting doubt upon the Word of God and if you become complicit with him the enemy of your soul will most certainly drag you down to hell. But Christ is calling you today. The Spirit of God is calling you through the message of our text. Hear the Word of God: this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
It is quite obvious from this passage and the whole of Scripture that the true God is represented in history by His Son. God had a Son! The number of false spiritualities that deny this cardinal truth are too numerous to mention and I am sure you can think of more than one movement in our world that denies the Son. How tragic this is! Those caught up in these various movements are travelling the broad road. Their soul is in great danger. They are but a heartbeat away from the regions of the damned.
Sadly all those who perish in the everlasting burnings of the just and holy wrath of Almighty God have themselves to blame. The true Light that lighteth every man who comes into the world has appeared to all with an invitation to flee the wrath to come. That invitation is real. The pleadings of the Spirit of God in the human heart are real. But many turn away. Many resist the Holy Ghost and through neglect, or pride, or willful unbelief harden themselves until there is no more call of God.
Beware my friends. The day will soon be past. The brief hour of invitation to forsake your Egypt and suffer affliction with the people of God—in place of the pleasures of sin for a season—will soon be over. Today if you hear his voice do not harden your heart. It is time to turn. Hear the text carefully. God sent Jesus into the world. God had a Son and any spirituality that says otherwise is dangerous. False spirituality is the means by which Satan is devouring multitudes. Don’t make the mistake of turning away from the Light. When the light of the gospel comes to your darkened soul it is time to turn. It is time to repent.
I warn you today: do not follow those who have popularized what amounts to the spirit of antichrist. Any doctrine that denies Jesus as the unique, only begotten Son of God, God come in the flesh for our salvation, is from the spirit of antichrist. The Word of God teaches us to “try” or test the spirits to discern whether the spirit is of God, or if it is a lying, deceptive spirit.
In order to discern what is of God we must examine what various religions, teachers, and movements say about Jesus. Remember, Satan manifests the spirit of antichrist as an “angel of light.” This is exactly why false spirituality is so dangerous. It often appears to be genuine and good. But if the teaching of a religion or some popular movement denies that Jesus is the eternal Word come in the flesh for our salvation, then it is of the spirit of antichrist. Those who deny the Lord are tragically lost regardless of their sincerity or zeal. (Cf. John 1:1, 14 and 1 John 4:1-6). Again, if you are wrong about the person of Christ nothing else matters. He is God’s unique Son, the Lord from glory, God come in the flesh for our salvation. To deny him means eternal loss!
One tragic example of the manifestation of the spirit of antichrist is very vivid to me. It is the example of a dear man who died less than a year ago. He is in eternity. And while I am not his final judge, unless he changed his mind about Jesus he has no hope. He sold millions of books that are to this day deceiving others and leading them away from the only hope of eternal life—the Lord Jesus Christ. He described Jesus Christ as a “self-actualized person.” He urged people not to be Christians, but Christ-like. He said, “I don’t think that Jesus was teaching Christianity, Jesus was teaching kindness, love, concern, and peace.”
You know, I was once in a math class and I didn’t think 2+2 was 4. Of course, my math teacher corrected me and it didn’t matter what my opinion was about it. Likewise, it doesn’t matter what the opinion of false teachers are. What matters is what Jesus said! Only the foolish could read the words of Christ and deny that he was the Son of God come for their salvation. Be careful my friend. Your soul is at stake. Interestingly Oprah Winfrey tweeted following the passing of this man: “It was a pleasure to talk to (this man) about life’s big questions. He always had big answers. RIP. You brought the Light.”
Excuse me, but that man and no other man is the Light. Jesus Christ alone is the Light of the world! Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Jesus Christ not only taught Christianity, he is Christianity! Jesus Christ emphatically declares himself to be the Son of God who came to give his life a ransom for all. He dogmatically says in our text that eternal life is to be found nowhere but in him. He dogmatically declares that he reveals the only true God who sent him to be the Savior of the world.
These are dangerous days in which the spirit of antichrist is dressed up in modern garb and goes undetected by the undiscerning. Indeed, the wicked are waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. You have been warned. It is time to confess that Jesus is the Lord come from heaven for your salvation. He is Emmanuel, God with us! He is the eternal Word who left his Father’s side to tabernacle amongst us in the person of Jesus the Christ.
He proceeded to humble himself in the form of a servant and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. He endured the cross, despising the shame and is now set down at the right hand of God the Father expecting that his enemies be made his footstool! His precious blood has provided a covering for the sin of the world and today you can come to the foot of the cross and trust his death on your behalf for your salvation. He is risen from the dead with the promise of eternal life for all who will believe upon him.
Will you come to him? Will you confess him as the Lord from heaven? Will you accept his death and resurrection for your salvation?
Eternal life hinges upon that decision.
If you are wrong about Jesus, then nothing else matters. If you should gain the whole world but lose your soul all is eternally lost. What think ye of Christ, whose Son is he? Is he the Son of God? If you answer with the atheists and conclude that he was just a man—if he existed at all—then you will perish. It matters not that you climbed the corporate ladder or ascended to the heights of academia, or lived in positions of power while here on earth. You must go out to face Christ, whom you rejected as Savior.
If you answer with the pantheists and occultists that Jesus was just another ascended master and that you too can be a Christ, then you will realize all too late that your willful unbelief blinded your mind to the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. One day the living Christ, the Lord from glory, will pronounce upon you those dreadful words, “Depart from me ye worker of iniquity, I never knew you.”
And to our Jewish community and our Muslim community we say with genuine compassion that you both stand in great danger. You both deny that God had a Son. In some context you both say you respect Holy Scripture, at least in part. But you have ignored or willfully turned away from Scripture. You would do well to humbly come back to Scripture with an open heart. You would do well to pray humbly that God would reveal to you the truth concerning His Son. As Jesus Christ says, “search the Scriptures, for they are they that testify of me.”
Now I close with our text again . . .
“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power (authority) over all flesh (all mankind), that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John17:1-5).
I pray you will receive God’s word today. Invite Jesus Christ into your heart and place your faith in him as your only hope of heaven.