I do not have to tell you that yesterday was Easter Sunday. In preacher lingo, that means I was supposed to preach on the empty tomb. It is the climax of the story of Jesus on earth. He came, lived a perfect life, was beaten and killed. But the story was not over. On the third day, He rose from the dead. He who died came back to life. And that is kind of what I preached on.
Over the past several months, I have had this burden (some might call it an angst) in my heart for the American gospel that is often preached. It just feels so shallow to me. It just feels a bit to easy. It just feels like we have created a Savior in our minds that will forgive anything as long as we chant some magical incantation to release us from eternal separation from God. And so, yesterday, I allowed this built up burden to come out as I preached a very unique title and text for Easter.
Jesus Didn't Die & Rise Again So You Could Simply Ask Him Into Your Heart!
"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
My point is simply this: Jesus did not come to this earth, live a perfect life that we could not live, die the death that we deserved to die, and rise from the dead so that we could settle our eternal destiny with a repetition of words that flow from a heart that is less than 100% committed to Him. Jesus did not overcome sin and death so that we could casually hold onto some of the sin that we really love. Jesus did not overcome the evil one so that we would not fight off his attacks in our life. Jesus did not die and rise again so we would just pray a prayer and then go live any way we desire to live.
Paul's point in this passage is several fold. First, he argues that one man died for all. This is known as substitution. Jesus died in our place for our sins so that we could be restored into a right relationship with God. He died the death that we should have died. The wrath of the Father was poured out on Him for sins that He never committed, but for our sins.
Second, His death means that we should die. Paul says that one died for all, therefore all have died. At first glance, it sure seems in opposition to what was just said about substitution. But the fact that Jesus died for our sins doesn't mean we are not called to die. It just means that we are called to die a different kind of death.
Third, the death we die is to ourselves. Paul continues by saying that he died for all so that those who live (implication by live is believe) might no longer live for themselves. He died so that we would die to ourselves. His desire on that cross was to wash away our sins, but also to have us die to our selfishness. Jesus wants to redeem us from us.
Fourth, we die to ourselves so we can live for Him. At the end of the passage, Paul remarks that the death of ourselves is necessary so that we can live for Jesus. He is the one who died and rose again for us. It starts with his death and comes back around to his death and resurrection as the motive for our living for Him.
I won't go into it here, but I took a bulk of my message to look at the calling of Jesus to follow Him. Jesus wants us to follow Him. It is personal. It is not a list of rules and regulations. We are called to find truth in the One who is the truth. Salvation comes not because we have said a prayer, although praying might be a proper response to His work in our life. Salvation comes because we have cast the hope of our soul on the finished work of Jesus who died and rose for us.
If you want to listen to the message or read my notes, you can find it HERE.