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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 20, 2014
Three Days that Changed the World
This morning we have been singing hymns of praise that have focused on the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, in order to understand the importance of His life, death, burial and resurrection, we must first understand the condition of man that required this great sacrifice and greater triumph over man’s enemies, sin and death. In order to do that this morning, we are going to examine the days before, the days of, and the days after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus
The Days Before
God created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh. Among the creatures He created on the sixth day was man. God’s proclamation at the end of that day is found in Genesis 1:31, “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”
The Garden of Eden was a wonderful place for Adam and Eve. It was a beautiful and safe place with everything they needed for life. The only restriction upon them was to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that they would eat of it they would die (Genesis 2:16-17). We all know the story. A day came when Eve was tempted by Satan through a serpent to eat of that tree. When doubt arose in Eve’s mind about what God had said and she saw that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes and desirable to make one wise, she ate of it and gave to Adam who also ate of it (Genesis 3:1-7). Both of them now gained an experiential knowledge of sin and immediately recognized the shame of their nakedness. They sought to cover that shame by their own method of sewing fig leaves together, but all of us can easily figure out that fig leaves do not make adequate clothing. In addition, even with their fig leaf clothes, they are now ashamed and frightened. When God came to the Garden to talk with them, they chose to hide from Him. They died spiritually that day, for death means separation, and their disobedience of God’s command had resulted in them separating themselves from Him. The curse of sin had come upon them and through them to every single one of their descendants which is all of us.
Sin has been the enemy of man ever since Adam & Eve. Its effects have been far reaching for it also brought a curse on all of creation which groans while awaiting the day of redemption when God will restore all things (Romans 8:22). Since Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, disease, decay and death have reigned. Think about how much time, money and effort you spend on a daily basis battling these three consequences of sin. All that you do to stay healthy, to overcome sickness, to keep things clean, orderly, and in repair, to work out the complexities and misunderstandings in relationships, and to earn your daily bread are all in done in battling the consequences of sin. And yet, with all that you do, eventually the stuff you own will rot, rust or be stolen, and you will die.
That is a very bleak picture, but it gets worse, because the issue of being separated from God must also be dealt with or eternity will be spent under His judgment. Like Adam and Eve, men still try to cover their sin by their own means and methods in an attempt to make themselves acceptable to their holy creator. Some deal with this issue through denial. Some deny there is a God or that they can know Him, but all atheists and agnostics change their minds after death, but then it is too late. They face a holy and just God to be judged for their sins. Some deny that they sin. But like a child who has chocolate on his fingers and lips while still denying he ate the candy, the evidence is all against him. Most people turn to some religious system to try to deal with the guilt of their sin. But like the fig leaves sewn together by Adam and Eve, all their religious efforts are inadequate. They are still left in their sin despite their good works.
The cost of sin is death. Ezekiel 18:4 states, “The soul who sins will die.” Romans 6:23 adds, “For the wages of sin is death.” Even in the case of Adam and Eve, it was God that made proper clothes for them out of animal skins (Genesis 3:21), and you cannot get an animal’s skin off it without killing it. An animal had to die in order to cover the shame of their sin. While the animal skin covered their nakedness, the death of the animal was inadequate be the substitute payment for their sin. Adam and Eve lived a long time by our standards. Genesis 5:5 states that all of his days were nine hundred and thirty years, but he still died as did everyone else listed in that chapter. As Paul described in Romans 5:17, death has reigned because of Adam’s offense.
How then could this sin problem and the death it brings be dealt with? How could man be brought back into a proper relationship with God and not have to bear the consequences of his own sin? An adequate payment for sin would have to be made, and that is exactly what happened on the first of the three days that changed the world.
Day One – The Payment for Sin
Three conditions would have to be met in order for the cost of sin to be met. First, the sacrifice that would be the substitute payment for sin would have to be sinless, otherwise the death of the sacrifice would only be just the cost of his own sin. Second, the sacrifice would have to be voluntary otherwise those offering the sacrifice would be committing murder, which is a violation of God’s laws. Third, the sacrifice would have to be of adequate value. This means not only would it have to be of like nature and value of a human, but it would also have to have value beyond one sin by one human.
No animal sacrifice could meet these conditions. Hebrews 10:4 is clear on this point saying, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Hebrews 10:11 adds that “every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” An animal sacrifice could not take away sin and even if it could, every time a person sinned, another sacrifice would have to be made. The purpose of the Old Testament sacrificial system was to be a continual reminder of the high cost of sin as stated in Hebrews 10:3. The animal offered was not an equivalent substitute for the person who was making the sacrifice.
There are religions that have offered human sacrifices, but a human sacrifice itself would also be inadequate because all humans have sinned. But even if you had a sinless human volunteer to be such a sacrifice, they could only pay for the penalty of one sin for one person. The sin a person continued to commit would condemn them even after such a sacrifice was made.
There is only one sacrifice that meets all the criteria needed to be the redemption price for sin, and that is Jesus Christ. First, a sacrifice had to be without blemish, and Jesus was without sin. Hebrews 4:15 states that Jesus is a High Priest who sympathizes with our weakness because He was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. The Apostle John stated that Jesus appeared to take away sins and that in Him there is no sin (1 John 3:5). The Apostle Peter stated that Jesus committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:20). The Apostle Paul stated that God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus Himself challenged His enemies to convict Him of sin (John 8:46), and at His trial, they could only find false witnesses against Him (Matthew 26:59-61).
Second, a sufficient sacrifice would have to be an equivalent of a human to be of adequate value. Jesus was fully human being born of the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Galatians 4:4-5 states, “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” He is of the same value as us.
Third, a proper sacrifice would have to be voluntary otherwise it would be murder. Jesus willingly offered Himself up as the sacrificial payment for redemption stating in John 10:17-18, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
Fourth, the sacrifice would have to have infinite value otherwise it would be one sacrifice for one sin for one person. Jesus is of infinite value to pay the price of the sin of every person for all time because He is also God. Romans 6:10 says, “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” Hebrews 9:12 says of Jesus that “through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Hebrews 10:9-12 adds that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.” Jesus sat down because He had finished the work of redemption. He had paid the price of sin for all.
Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God. He is the second person of the Triune Godhead who voluntarily took on human flesh, lived a sinless life, then voluntarily gave His life as the substitute payment for my sin and your sin – past, present and future. That is the significant event that occurred on this first of three days that changed the world. You and I can be forgiven our sins against our holy creator because the price of that sin has been fully paid by Him. We receive this forgiveness by faith in believing and accepting what God has done for us. You cannot earn God’s forgiveness through any kind of good works because even your righteous deeds are as filthy rags before Him. You cannot pay for it in any manner because He already owns everything. You are only a steward of what He has entrusted to you. There is nothing you can offer God in exchange for it for God is self-sufficient and needs nothing from you. To continue to strive to do any of these things only leaves you condemned. You can only receive God’s forgiveness as a gift of His grace through faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The gospel accounts tell us that Jesus was crucified about noon. At about three p.m. He bore the sins of mankind and cried out, “My God , My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He then cried out “It is finished!” He then bowed His head, and gave up His spirit (John 19:30). Not long after the soldiers came to break the legs of those being crucified in order to speed up their death. They found Jesus was already dead and so one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water proving Jesus had died. Joseph of Arimathea then arranged to bury Jesus’ body in his own tomb, which he and Nicodemus did before night fall.
Day Two – Proclamation of Triumph
The second day was one of sadness for Jesus’ disciples, for though Jesus had forewarned them about His coming death and promise of resurrection, they did not understand. They were forlorn, confused and scared. But Jesus Himself was busy. Jesus’ body was dead, but His spirit was still alive and active. Though we do not understand all of what Jesus did during this time period, it appears from 1 Peter 3:18-20 that one thing Jesus did do was to make proclamation to the spirits now in prison of His victory over sin which sealed their judgment. My point here is not to get into the many speculations about this passage, but simply to point out that Jesus was still alive and active though His physical human body was now lying dead in a tomb.
Day Three – Proof of Triumph
The third day is what we are celebrating this morning. That is why we have been singing. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the proof of His triumph over sin and death. Without the resurrection, Christianity would be like every other religion – a false hope based on the false promises of a false prophet. Paul put this very bluntly in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19, “and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found [to be] false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”
There are those that deny Jesus’ resurrection, but they do so based on their own unbelief, and not the facts. There have been many who have sought to prove that Jesus and the resurrection are myths, but then changed their minds as they examined the facts in the matter. They changed from unbelief to belief because of their examination of the evidence.
How do we know that Jesus really died and rose from the dead?
First, we know that Jesus really died for the soldiers proved it when they pierced His side with the spear and blood and water flowed out. Jesus had already been dead long enough that solids in the blood (platelets, etc.) were already separating from the serum. Jesus had suffered horrible physical torture and loss of blood. These facts prove the variations of the “swoon” theory false. Jesus did not faint or lapse into unconsciousness at the crucifixion only to be revived by the cool of the tomb and manage to escape. Remember, He had become so physically weak that He collapsed while carrying His cross to Golgotha. No one could have gone through what He went through, then been wrapped up in grave clothes which included a face cloth over his mouth and nose, then last that amount of time without food or water, free themselves from the grave clothes, roll away the tomb stone and overpower or escape the guards. Those ideas are ludicrous.
Second, Jesus was seen alive by many eyewitnesses on multiple occasions. That proves His resurrection was not a hallucination. On that first day alone Jesus was seen by Mary, then Peter, then the two on the road to Emmaus, and then the rest of the Apostles except Thomas. Jesus was later seen again alive in the flesh on several occasions by all the Apostles and at one time by more than five hundred (1 Corinthians 15:6). Still later, He was also seen by Paul. The eyewitness accounts are that Jesus rose from the dead. These facts also disprove the stories that He was still dead and His body was stolen. If Jesus’ enemies had stolen it, then all they needed to do was produce the body to prove He was still dead.
Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God through the Holy Spirit just as He said would happen. In doing so He proved that all that He claimed about Himself was true. He does have authority to give His life and take it up again. His sacrifice did pay the penalty of our sins. He does have the authority to forgive those who place their faith in Him. He will keep His promise to give eternal life to all of His followers. He will come again to receive us to Himself that all who belong to Him will be with Him in heaven forever.
The Days After
What happened in the days after Jesus’ resurrection? He appeared to His disciples and many others as already mentioned. He gave His apostles final instructions and then ascended into Heaven where He sits on the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10:12). He now makes intercession with the Father on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25), and He is preparing a place for us that we may dwell with Him forever (John 14:1-3).
The radical change in the disciples following the resurrection also prove that fact and that they did not steal the body. If they had stolen Jesus body, aside from the ridiculous idea that they would have been able to do so with an armed Roman guard at the tomb, they would have known that what they were proclaiming was a lie. Perhaps a few of them might have been willing to joyfully suffer and die as martyrs in proclaiming the gospel, but not all of them would have done so if they were preaching a lie.
What does the future hold? There will come a day in which Jesus will return to receive His own to be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4), and then another day in which He will come as the conquering King with His army of saints (Revelation 19). All of Jesus’ enemies will be defeated and judged and He will reign on David’s throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years. And finally, after a brief time in which Satan is loosed from his bondage, the resulting rebellion will be vanquished and Satan and all his followers along with death and hades will be thrown into the lake of fire. This present heaven and earth will then be destroyed and a new heaven and earth created. All those who belong to Christ will be there with Him living in a place described in Revelation 21 and 22 that we can hardly imagine.
What is your future destiny? That all depends on your response to the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. What do you believe concerning Him? Are you still trying to earn your way to heaven? If you are, you are heading for a horrible disappointment, because you won’t make it. It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy that He saves us by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
Are you trusting in the provision of salvation through faith in Jesus’ sacrificial payment for your sin? If so, then you have peace and rest for your soul in God’s promises to you through Jesus Christ. You have something to truly celebrate today. The true Christian has a confident assurance of a blessed eternal future with God in heaven because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is alive!
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up. 2) Count how many times the words “resurrection” is said. Talk with your parents about why the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so important and why we know it is true.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What was the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) and what has been its effect on all of their descendants? What will be the end of all the work of man? What is the eternal destiny of the man who is still in his sin? What was the purpose of the sacrificial system? What are the three requirements of a sacrifice in order for it to be efficacious? Do animal sacrifices meet these requirements? Explain. How does Jesus meet each of these requirements? What was Jesus doing on the day after He was crucified? What is the importance of the resurrection to Christians? How do we know that Jesus really died? How do we know that Jesus really rose alive from the dead? What were the disciples like immediately after Jesus was crucified? What were they like after Jesus was resurrected and showed Himself to them? What are the major events that the Bible states will happen before eternity begins? What will happen to the wicked? What will happen to the righteous? How is a man made righteous before God? Are you righteous before God?
Sermon Notes: Three Days that Changed the World
April 20, 2014 – Selected Scriptures
The Days Before
God made the world in __________________ then declared it to be very good
Adam and Even had a perfect environment, but doubted God and __________their own way falling into sin
Sin has been the ____________of man and creation ever since then
Not only do our works here decay and we _____________, but man’s sin condemns him to eternity in Hell
______________is the proof of the reign of sin – Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23; Genesis 5; Romans 5:17
Man’s only _____________would be for an adequate payment for sin to be made
Day One – The Payment for Sin
1) The sacrifice offered would have to be ________________
2) The sacrifice would have to be ___________________
3) The sacrifice would have to have ___________________ value
No __________________ sacrifice meets these provisions – Hebrews 10:3-11
Even if a sinless, human volunteer could be found, it would pay for ______sin for ______person _____time
Jesus is __________- Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 8:46; Matt. 26:59-61
Jesus is fully ______________- Galatians 4:4-5; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-7
Jesus _________________offered Himself up as the sacrificial payment for redemption – John 10:17-18
Jesus has ______________value because He is also full God – Romans 6:10; Hebrews 9:12; 10-9-12
Forgiveness can only be received by ____________in Christ – it cannot be earned, bought or bargained for
Jesus died by ______________up His own spirit – It is finished! – John 19:30
Day Two – Proclamation of Triumph
Jesus’ physical body was dead, but His spirit was _____________and active – 1 Peter 3:18-20
Day Three – Proof of Triumph
Without the ______________, Christianity would be a false hope based on false promises of a false prophet
Jesus really ___________- proven by the soldiers piercing His side and blood and water flowing out
Jesus was seen ______________by many eyewitnesses on multiple occasions (John 20; 1 Cor. 15:6)
Jesus ______from the dead by the power of God through the Holy Spirit just as He said – proving His claims
The Days After
Jesus appeared to many, ascended to ___________where He intercedes for us and is preparing a place for us
The ___________radical change from being fearful to bold and willing to suffer also proves the resurrection
Jesus will _____for His own, set up His millennial kingdom, put down a last rebellion, and bring in eternity
Satan & the __________________will be cast into the lake of fire, the righteous will go to heaven
The true Christian has confident assurance of the future because our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is _____!
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