Sunday, April 5, 2015

Our God Still Moves The Stones Away!

Temple Baptist Church - 4-5-2015
Matthew 28:1-15


A.  Several years ago, I saw a message with a title that blessed my heart.  I do not know who preached it as there was no name attached but the thought is a glorious one.

B.  Resurrection Sunday is here; the work of the cross is finished; Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world and was buried in a garden tomb.  He made his grave with the wicked in a tomb that had never been used.  Thank the Lord for His love for mankind; His sacrifice and payment for the sins of all mankind; and His glorious resurrection on the third day!  Hallelujah, what a Saviour!

C.  There is no such thing as “Good Friday” found in the scripture.  The bible declares that Jesus Christ was in the heart of the earth “three days and three nights.” 

Matthew 12:40  For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  (That was a literal 72 hour period.  You cannot squeeze 72 hours in from Friday until Sunday no matter where you went to school!) 

D.  The bible gives description to different holy days as “Sabbaths.”  John 19:30-31 declares this to be such a case: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.  (31)  The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”  (At this particular time, the Thursday before the Sabbath was referred to “an high day,” or a holy day under the ceremonial law that was to be properly observed.  Thus, Jesus Christ died on Wednesday, the day of preparation for the Sabbath that took place on Thursday.  The following day, Friday, was the preparation day for the normal Sabbath or Saturday.  Therefore, there could be not embalming of spices on Wednesday because it was the preparation day for Thursday.  There could be no embalming on Thursday because it was a “high day” or Sabbath.  There could be no embalming on Friday because it was the preparation day for the normal Sabbath which was Saturday.  There could be no embalming done on the Sabbath or Saturday.  The godly women who would have anointed the body of our Lord in preparation for burial were delayed until the first day of the week, which is our Sunday and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty!  God’s timing is always right and the bible correct.  I hope you had a Good Wednesday!

Luke 23:52-56  This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.  (53)  And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.  (54)  And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.  (55)  And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.  (56)  And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.  (The lining up of two Sabbaths plus the preparation day that preceded them kept the women from the normal “embalming” of anointing the body with spices and properly wrapping it.  God kept that tomb closed for “three days and three nights” in fulfillment of prophecy.  The veracity and faithfulness of the bible to itself makes it simply amazing.  Scripture always interprets scripture!)

E.  The Jews did all that they could to seal that tomb and set guards to make sure that no one came to steal the body away!  Matthew 27:62-66  Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,  (63)  Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.  (64)  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.  (65)  Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.  (66)  So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Matthew 28:11-15  Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.  (12)  And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,  (13)  Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.  (14)  And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.  (15)  So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.  (Both their watch and their lies have failed to keep the glorious truth of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in check!  He lives!  The bible declares that He lives!  You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart!)

F.  This morning, the bodies of Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Taze Russell, and even Mary—the earthly mother of Jesus—are all still in the grave.  Only in Christianity do we find a Resurrected Lord.  “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”  Our faith in Christ is validated because only Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, rose from the dead. No other religious leader defeated death so none other can make these claims. The resurrected Lord is the central event of our faith.  His resurrection is the “Exclamation Mark” of our hope!
G.  Salvation is a finished work, not a present work!  If your faith is a mixed faith, you are lost!  I am not saved because I am a Baptist!  I am not saved because I have been baptized!  I am not saved because I do good works!  I am not saved because I am a good man!  I am saved because all of my hope is in the finished work of Christ: death, burial, and resurrection!  It is all of Him and none of me!  He is all of my hope!  He is all of my righteousness!  Hallelujah, what a Saviour! 

H.  One day, if the Lord does not return soon, we too will die!  They will carry our cold, lifeless body to the cemetery and place us under the sod.  A moment to be feared?  No!  The bible answers this the question of death once and for all for both saint and sinner.

1.  Our God will remove the “stone of death” away for the saint at the moment of death!  We will not simply be dead and in the grave.  2 Corinthians 5:8  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.  (When the saint dies, he/she does not die alone nor in vain.  Not soul sleep; no purgatory; present with the Lord!)

Ecclesiastes 12:7  Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.  (I often tell Barbara not to “set a watch” at my grave when I die.  I am all for taking care of the graves of our loved ones but they are not there.  “Ashes to ashes; dust to dust!  I will be finally home!)

2.  Our God will remove the “stone of death” away for the sinner at the moment of death!  They will not simply be dead and in the grave.  Luke 16:22-23  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;  (23)  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  (No lighting of candles will help; no praying for the dead with help!  Salvation is a present opportunity, not a future one.  Today is and always be the day of salvation.  When tomorrow comes, it will be “today.”  Hell is real and hell is eternal!  Repent and trust Christ today!)

3.  Our God will remove the “stone of corruption” away for the saint at His coming for His church!  1 Corinthians 15:51-52  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  (52)  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  (There is an old song that says, “Ain’t no grave going to keep my down!”  The Lord will bring those who have died in Christ with Him in the rapture of the church and the graves will give up those corrupt bodies and they will be changed.  As we meet Him in the air, our bodies will be changed as death and corruption will be forever gone.)

4.  Our God will remove the “stone of judgment” away from the Lake of Fire for the sinner one day!  Revelation 20:11-15  And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  (12)  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  (13)  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  (14)  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  (15)  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.  (Today hell is well populated but the eternal Lake of Fire is empty.  It is of God’s mercy that the Lake of Fire is empty but, one day, those who have not placed their faith in the finished work of Calvary will stand before God, be judged for their works, and cast into the Lake of fire for all of eternity!  The choice is theirs!  The choice is yours!)

 It’s the "TA-DA!" of Christianity. And Because of Easter, we know that God in Christ Jesus is more powerful then anything in life, even death.

The resurrection is not just another thing we believe as Christians, it is the very center of our faith. Everything hinges on the resurrection. And you realize that when life smacks you in the face.

I read the account recently of a man whose young daughter died. It was devastating for the family. But in her death, Easter took on new importance. The father said this: "Until you stare death eye-to-eye, Easter is just a word, a nice day with bunny rabbits and eggs...but when someone so precious to you dies, Easter becomes anchor in a fierce storm...a rock on which to stand...a hope that raises you above despair and keeps you going..." 

Everything hinges on the resurrection. In our deepest, darkest moments. When we don’t think it can ever get better. The resurrection gives us hope that it can. When we are in the midst of day one or day two, the resurrection gives us hope that there is a day three and victory is coming.

Let me close this morning with the story of Kay Arthur. Kay Arthur is a writer, a lecturer, and many thousands of people around the world, including right here at OCC, have been impacted by the bible studies put out by Kay Arthur. She is a committed Christian Woman. But it has not always been this way for Kay Arthur.

Many years ago when she was in her twenties she was as far away from God as a person could possibly get. She was living with her husband who was manic depressive and she just got tired of living with him. She had an affair with a married man and then when her husband found out he became so depressed that he threatened suicide. 
And when he threatened suicide she was so crass, so uncaring that she told him go ahead and kill yourself, I could use the life insurance money. And he did. he hung himself.
And Kay Arthur said that as she drove away from the cemetery that day she felt like such a failure as a wife, as a mother, as a person. And she felt such anger and frustration and pain. And she said as she drove away she shook her fist at the sky and she screamed, "To Hell with you God."
But she said, "what I didn’t know until later, was that that was exactly what he did for me. He gave his life, he went to the very gates of hell. And he did it for me."

You know what He did it for me also, and for you, and you and each one of us here this morning. The title of the book that relates her story is called "Lord, I need Grace."

Maybe your here this morning and your feeling the same way. And you need grace and forgiveness and hope. I guarantee you’ll find it in a resurrected Lord named Jesus Christ.

Are you here this morning needing to make a decision. Perhaps a decision to take Jesus as your Savior. To be assured that when you die, you too will rise again and be with God forever. You say, “I want that. How do I do that?”
The Bible says you believe in your heart that you are sinner in need of Savior and that Jesus is that Savior. And then the Bible says you confess that with your mouth before men, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and then you get baptized, immersed in water as a pledge of your life to him.

Just as he was buried in a tomb and rose again to new life. So you are buried in the water and rise again to new life. Are you ready to make that decision. Have you done that already, and you come this morning as an immersed believer looking for a church home? Whatever your decision, why don’t you come as we stand and sing.

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