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The Benefits of Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15

Introduction

A. A Sunday School teacher asked her class the Sunday before Easter about the meaning of the holiday.

- "Easter is when all the family gets together, & they have a big turkey & sing about the pilgrims & all that," replied one student.

- "No, that's not it," said the teacher.

- "I know what Easter is," a second student responded. "Easter is when you get this pine tree & cover it w/decorations & exchange gifts & sing lots of songs."

- "No, That's not it either" the teacher repeated.

- Then a third student responded: "Easter is when Jesus was killed, put in a tomb, & left for three days."

- "He knows! He knows!" the teacher said ecstatically to herself.

- But then the boy went on: "Then everybody gathers at the tomb & waits to see if Jesus comes out, & if He sees His shadow He has to go back in for seven weeks."

B. Many people misunderstand Easter.

- The holiday for them is simply colored eggs, bunnies, new clothes, a break from school, & possible church attendance for the first time that year.

- But isn't Easter more than that?

- Isn't Easter about Jesus who died, rose from the dead, & is alive today?

- Yes, but so what?

- What difference does it make to me that Christ is alive?

- How is the resurrection of Jesus Christ relevant to my life today?

C. We need to understand that the meaning of Easter is a theological matter.

- The fact of Easter is a historical matter.

- But the benefits of Easter are a personal matter.

D. This morning I want to address the benefits of the resurrection--to answer to question of "so what?".

- What difference can the resurrection make in your life & mine?

1. IT GIVES SIGNIFICANCE TO YOUR PERSONAL LIFE

A. Some studies reveal that one of the biggest personal problems many of us have is a feeling of insignificance.

1. The diameter of our planet is 7,900 miles.

- Its mass is 6 sextellion, 588 quintellion short tons.

- The population of the world is 5.384 billion people.

- These 5.384 billion people are spread across 7 continents & live in 207 different countries.

- And here we are today--a very small fraction of a percentage of the world's population gathered together in  _______________ (wherever you happen to be preaching).

- It's easy to understand why some of us feel insignificant in a world as large as ours.

- In fact, I believe that all of us, at one time or another, have felt like we were only a number, only a cog in a gigantic machine; we've all had the feeling that if we were taken away from this world in which we live it might not make much of a difference.

- But the resurrection of Jesus Christ shatters those negative thoughts w/a powerful benefit.

B. It says that you & I matter to God.

- It says that God has looked through all of the universes that he has created & down at this earth & out of its 5 billion plus people He has singled you out personally as the recipient of His attention.

- Paul tells us (READ vss. 1-4).

C. The point is that Jesus died & rose again for you.

- In other words, if you had been the only person on earth, Jesus would have died & risen again for you.

- Why? Because you are significant to Him.

- If you never receive an award in this life; if you are never the center of attention; if you are never singled out for recognition & you feel like an insignificant failure; always remember this:

-- You are significant to God. Not because of anything you have done or will ever do--you are significant to God simply because you are you & no one can ever replace you.

Transition: The 2nd reason the resurrection should make a difference in your life is:

2. IT GIVES MEANING TO YOUR PRESENT LIFE

A. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is within every soul a thirst for happiness and meaning."

- Everyone wants his/her life to count & to make a difference in the world.

B. Many people, unfortunately have never found purpose for their lives.

- They search, hunt, & strive for answers but they always come up short.

C. Good Friday was the worst day in history for the disciples.

- All their hopes & dreams were destroyed.

- They turned, w/heads down, & walked back to their old stations in life.

- Their once full, meaningful lives were now empty.

- But that was Friday.

- The disciples learned that the resurrection followed the crucifixion--& that changed their lives.

D. They saw firsthand the resurrected Christ.

- READ vv. 5-8.

E. The resurrection gave new meaning to these men's lives.

- Life was put in a new perspective.

- They were given a new direction.

- These men were changed forever.

- They went forth with a new zeal.

- Life, once again, became worth living.

Transition: The 3rd difference the resurrection makes is that:

3. IT GIVES HOPE TO YOUR FUTURE LIFE

A. Many people have no hope beyond death.

- They look at the grave as the end of the road with nothing beyond.

- That's a horrible way to live--as well as a horrible way to die.

B. Fortunately it's not the only way.

- While the Bible is the most reliable textbook on life after death, the greatest proof is Jesus Christ's resurrection.

- Our link to life after death is the fact of Jesus' rising from the dead..

- If Jesus has been raised from the dead it proves to us that resurrection is indeed possible for you & me.

- Jesus said, (John 11:25-26) "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

- Paul elaborated on Jesus' words in vss.20-22 of our text (READ).

- Peter said, 1 Pet 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"

C. Death is the doorway to life for believers.

- We will all face death; we can't escape that fact.

- But we can see beyond death because of the resurrection of Christ.

- We can be like the man whose tombstone bore the words, "Gone away w/a Friend".

- It will be that way for us because of the resurrection.

Transition: 4thly we see that the resurrection makes a difference because:

4. IT GIVES VICTORY TO A DEFEATED LIFE

A. READ vv. 54-57.

- Paul speaks here of victory; victory in life, victory in death.

- You get the feeling that he lives a victorious life because of his faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, & he believes that we should all share in that victory.

- But for some reason many of us go through life, not experiencing victory, but feeling as if we'd been defeated.

B. Our problem is that the reality of the resurrection is different from the reality of our experience.

- It is not what we are familiar with in everyday life.

- Our world is a world of breakfast cereals & luncheon salads, business meetings and ballgames, lunch at noon and dinner at six, w/clubs & church on the weekend.

- It is a world of automobiles & business deals & T.V. programs & going on vacation.

- It's not a world of empty graves & visiting angels.

- It's not a world of resurrection & messages from God.

C. Or is it?

- That was the trouble the women who came to visit the grave of Jesus had.

- They didn't think their world was that kind of world either.

- They didn't know that there is a world of trancendant reality just beyond this one, wanting to break in.

D. If we are going to live a victorious life we must be prepared to see the other reality if it is ever to have real meaning in our lives.

- We must learn to watch & pray & be open to the incursions of this other reality, or we will pass through life never knowing it exists.

E. Think what it might mean: that the world is not merely a random connected series of atoms; that there is real meaning & purpose in human life;

-- that there is a just intelligence behind everything, which will one day tip the scales in favor of those who are today broken & despised & neglected;

-- that all human wars are only a prelude to God's everlasting peace, when the lion shall lie down w/the lamb & the ox eat straw w/the bear;

-- that a cup of cold water given in the Master's name shall indeed have the Master's reward;

-- that love indeed is the greatest gift in the universe, & that we will never be depressed or disheartened, for it is ours in abundance from our Heavenly Father;

-- that Christ the risen Lord is w/us at this very moment & has been w/us all along, though we could not see & did not know it;

-- & that His promises are true, that we shall live w/Him forever, caught up in a glory beyond any we have ever known.

F. Do you have trouble living a victorious life?

- In your life do you have trouble knowing which reality is the true one, the one about the risen Christ or the one about the everyday, secular culture you live in?

- Is there a world that you call "church" and another you call "home"?

- Have you ever thought about letting the Christ-reality transform the other one, so that they are no longer two realities, but one?

- Resurrection gives victory to a defeated life, but only when you're willing to allow the resurrection to direct your life.

- "thanks be to God," Paul says, "He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Conclusion:

Easter Island is a small island off the coast of Chile.

- It has a small population--fewer than one thousand people.

- Nevertheless statues on the island date back to the 14th century.

- The island is distant from most of the world's traffic patterns.

- It has little to do w/the powerful institutions of economics, politics, & religion that shape this planet.

- Still, the little island sits there w/its curious statues.

- Viewed & studied by only a handful of tourists & scholars each year, the statues remain a symbol of a civilization that once labored long & hard to carve & erect these monuments.

- Easter Island has little importance in the 20th century, except for a place for tourists & as a relic of the past.

- The modern day observance of Easter likewise remains insignificant to many in our society.

- Easter's influence remains at the level of colored eggs, bunny rabbits, new dresses, pretty hats, & an annual visit to the local church.

- Many in our world say, "Christ arose, so what?" "What difference can it make in my life?"

- But the true believer says, "Christ arose & I have risen w/Him".

- "And through our common resurrection we will stand victorious for we are more than conquerors, we are the people who have overcome all obstacles through faith in Jesus Christ."