Please turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Today is Easter Sunday, and I want to speak about the great resurrection chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Where we have the Pauline revelation, Paul's revelation about resurrection. He writes as none else the revelation that God has given to him about the significance of resurrection. I want read rather a long passage, if you don't mind, if you'd listen with me. I'm going to actually speak mainly from verse 12 to 22. But I want to read to you verse 1 to 8 and then 12 to 22 and then 51 to 58. Please bear with me as I read it, it's good for all of us. It's the greatest resurrection chapter in the whole Bible. 1 Corinthians 15, let me start from verse 1. Moreover, brother, and I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand. By which you also are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. And that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. And after that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
Now verse 12, Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up-if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
Now please go to verse 51. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
You know there are many aspects of the Christian faith which I find are admired and respected by a lot of people who are not even Christians, the world outside. They admire and respect certain aspects of Christian faith, for example. The Bible says that God is love, and people out there really appreciate that because there is no religion anywhere that puts the truth about God in that way, that God is love. They state that God is some kind of a power. God is known by various attributes, various other attributes, but not by the fact that He is love, that God is love. That is something very unique to the scriptures, history doesn't say, it nature doesn't say it, but the Bible says it, and people love it. They say it's wonderful, Christian truth is amazing, it says that God is love. They're very pleased with that. There are other truths, let me give you another example. The Bible teaches that we all descended from that one man Adam, the first man Adam. And people like that because it means that we all belong to one family, even though today there are so many different races, colors, and nations, languages and so on. We're divided in so many ways by caste and all kinds of things. Division is great today, we're divided in so many ways. But, the Bible reminds us that we all descended from one man, from the one same family, which implies that all of us belong to that one family; therefore, God has made all equal in that way. Everyone is equal, no one is superior than the others. That we all belong to that race of Adam, from Adam we descended. They like that because in a world where the differences are emphasized and some people look upon others as inferior. Here is the Bible saying that we all descend from one man and people love it.
People also love another truth. Which is very often emphasized in Christianity and that is the forgiveness of sins and the freedom from guilt. I can go on tell you of many more like this, just for examples. But when it comes to one particular truth, many of these very same people that appreciate these other aspects stumble at one point. And that is when you tell them that Jesus was actually risen from the dead. They say, "Do you have to really preach it? It doesn't really matter whether Jesus rose from the dead or did not rise from the dead. If you just leave that one thing out, I can take the sermon on the mount. I can take the truth about how God is love. I can take the truth about how we are all one race human beings. All that is nice, don't emphasize the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. You can even talk about how He died, because we're ready to think about how evil people killed Jesus, and for a good cause a good man died. But don't tell us that He actually did the rise from the dead." That disturbs people, they say, "That's very unscientific, improbable. It's very difficult to digest, we don't want to discuss it, we don't want to believe it. We don't even want to appear to be believing it." They say, "Leave that out."
Now, they put it in this way I think, they say, "What difference does it make whether he rose from the dead did not rise from the dead? It absolutely makes no difference. Anyway, I've got go to work tomorrow morning. I've got to make the money, I've got to pay the rent, I've got put food on the table. I've got to do what everyone has to do. It does not make any difference in anyone's life whether Jesus rose from the dead or did not rise from the dead, it is immaterial. It doesn't matter." They say. So I want to today answer such people, I don't think any of us here are asking that question. But I know there are many people in the world that are asking the question, but what's the use of preaching it here? Because almost everybody is a believer maybe some who are here, that are still searching. And you're here today, God has brought you here. I'm glad you're here, we welcome you, and I want you to hear this also and consider this truth.
But I'm preaching this not only for the world outside, for those who do not believe, those who object to the fact of resurrection. I'm preaching this for the believers also, because even though we know it, we need to know it even more clearly. And Easter is a time when we have to really pay attention to these truths and reinforce these truths into the minds of people. Christians need a lot of reinforcement, Christians need to be told the same thing that they've been told previously. So we tell the truth in so many ways. You can preach the same truth, there are a hundred different ways. We're preaching on resurrection, how many Easter Sundays I've preached? Every time, we come from one particular angle and we try to show you how this truth is very significant, how it is so important to our faith and to our life, more importantly. So I want to today show you my answer from the Bible, from Paul's writings, to those things that these people say. They say, "What does it matter whether he rose again or did not rise again. It does not make any difference." And I want to tell those people it does make a difference. Not only for the believer, even for the unbeliever. Even for everyone that does not believe. The fact that Jesus arose again or did not rise again is going to matter, whether you believe or don't believe, it's going to matter. Lot of things hinge on that one fact of resurrection, and I want to show you that today. I want to take you to the Bible and show you that today.
There's a lot of evidence for the resurrection and I'm not going to deal with the evidence at all. I've preached evidences before, and we preach it again some time later. But today is not the day for dealing with evidences. I read the first 8 verses because it provides the evidences. First of all it shows the great significance of this truth about resurrection. Paul says I preached and committed to you a gospel. A gospel known by three important facts, what are the three important facts? That Christ died according to the scriptures, number one. That he rose again. He means according to the scriptures even though he doesn't say it there. ,Christ died according to the scriptures. Secondly, he was buried. He means to say according to the scriptures, and thirdly, he says in so many words, according to the scriptures, he was raised from the dead. He says the gospel that I committed to you, preached and you believed, is the gospel that as these three points. That Christ died, He was buried and he rose again but He made sure that he inserted in these words, according to the scriptures he died. According to the scriptures he was buried, and according to the scriptures, he rose again. What does that mean? It is a fully loaded statement, he means to say Christ's death and burial and resurrection, is not an ordinary matter. For ages the Bible has spoken about it from Genesis all the way to Revelation, you read it. The scriptures state it, it's not that I have seen Jesus and so on, even though that is true. But the scriptures tell us that this is what will happen. That He will suffer and die, that He will be buried and on the third day, He will rise again. And that is what has happened, that is what the gospel rests upon. You remove resurrection from it, all other things minus resurrection means zero, you get nothing. You have no Christianity, that is not Christianity at all. So that is why you've got to be careful.
Now sometimes people say, "Well, we believe in the resurrection, don't worry." Now there are many who are of the liberal persuasion, the liberal theology. I don't know if you've ever heard about it, you know, they don't believe in anything. They don't believe the Bible at all many times. So they say, "Yeah, we believe in the resurrection. Sure we believe in the resurrection. We believe that Jesus rose." And you ask them, "How did He rise from the dead?" They say, "He has risen in my heart. He has risen in my thought." And they'll... wax eloquent. And they tell you ten different ways of how He has risen from the dead in so many ways. Very tricky, people get cheated you know they think, "Well that man believes in resurrection." No! The point is did that Jesus who died, did that same Jesus rise again? Then what's the point? Why did Jesus say to Thomas and the other disciples who were afraid when they saw Him. Someone came back alive from the dead that you know, and all of a sudden showed up at your house. You going to ask for some proof, you're going to be shocked to see that person. So no wonder the apostles were shocked, and Jesus said no, don't worry, don't be afraid, it's me. Just see, it's me, look at my wounds. He told Thomas, put your hand and feel it, see it. It's me, the same Jesus who died.
It's important to state the fact that is the same Jesus who died rose again and lives today. You can't just be beating around the bush saying, "He has risen in my heart, He has risen in my mind and all that." No, we're not talking about that, we mean to say that Jesus, who was born off virgin Mary and had a body like you and me, rose again and His wounds can be seen and felt. It was a bodily resurrection, that same Jesus who died rose again. The Bible provides evidence. Paul says in the first eight verses, very important verses he says, he appeared to Cephas, that is Peter. He appeared to all the other apostles later on. And then he appeared to 500 people at one time, 500 people saw Him. And he mentions, he cares to mention that when he was writing this epistle, most of them were still alive, only some were dead. Out of those 500 people that were there, many alive and no one came up and refuted Paul's statement here when he said, 500 saw Him. No one came up and said, "No, no, this man is talking lies,." He never rose again and we never saw," they could have come up, but no one said that. That itself is a big evidence. Look at the lives that were changed. The lives of the apostles that were hiding because of fear when Jesus was crucified. All of a sudden they're appearing before people and preaching before thousands of people. Shook up the whole town of Jerusalem with the gospel and would not relent, would not back off from preaching the truth even when they were warned of death. They were told, "Don't preach in the name of Jesus. Don't preach this Christ has risen." They said, "Should we obey you or obey God?" All of a sudden they became bold. You cannot have that kind of boldness all of a sudden, unless you have seen and you have proof that this man Jesus who died, has risen again. Something unusual and extraordinary has happened. That boldness, extraordinary boldness. They were ready to even die and most of them died for this faith in Christ. They were ready to give their life. That is big evidence. So if you want to talk about evidence we can talk but this is not the day. But we're going to talk about how the resurrection of Jesus does make a difference in everyone's life, the believer and the unbeliever alike.
Now, if you look at verse 12 onwards, let me just go through verse 12 onwards, again. Now listen very carefully now, I first read because the first eight verses are going to come here and there. So I didn't want you to be you know wondering where it came from and the last few verses, 51 to 58 also is going to come in my talk here and there. But look at verse 12 and that portion there, and I'm going to concentrate on this. This is Paul's argument and Paul's thorough statement about this. He says, Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, see this is gospel preaching, in other words. He says I've been preaching that Christ has risen from the dead, how do some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? Now to say that there is no resurrection of the dead, that Jesus never rose again, it's not something that somebody said just three, four days ago. This has been happening for a long time. A lot of people have been saying, from the time He rose again, they've been saying. "No, Jesus didn't rise again, He's dead and this are all stories. Somebody stole His body, His enemies stole the body, friends stole the body." And so on, all kinds of allegations were appearing back then. Even today they say the same thing. So Paul says, how come some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
In those days there was a sect called Saducees. And I never forget one of my teachers in the Bible college who taught us how not to forget the Pharisees and the Sadducees and what they are about. He says the Pharisees are those who say... they look at the mirror and say, "How fair I see?" They appreciate themselves for their goodness, for their greatness, for their holiness and so on, particularly their holiness. They say, "How fair I see?" There is no fairer than them, they think. Sadducees are people that believe that there is no resurrection. So he says that is why they are "sad, you see?" So from that time I've never forgotten that. The Sadducees are people that don't believe in the resurrection... they were still around, they were going around and saying, "Resurrection of the dead is impossible, period. Resurrection cannot happen, therefore Jesus could not have been risen from the dead." Paul says, "How come some of you say that there is no resurrection, but then if there is no resurrection of the dead. Look at his logic, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is empty. Another translation says, it's in vain, it's waste. You're wasting your time, our gathering is a waste of time. The fact that you've been a Christian, is a waste of time. Some of you have been Christians for four, five generations, you've wasted your time believing in this Christ. If Christ is not risen, your entire faith is in vain. It's not like some people say, "It doesn't matter you know if you don't believe in resurrection. If it happened or didn't happen." No, no, no, if it didn't happen, your faith is in vain, waste literally.
Then he says, Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up-if in fact the dead do not rise. See if Christ did not rise from the dead, then that means we are found false witnesses. Now our dear Mr. Trump has given a new name for it, "fake news". He says we are people spreading fake news. He says if the dead do not rise, then Christ has not risen. And if Christ has not risen, your faith is futile, you're still in your sins. I'll talk about it, it's very important. He says if Jesus has not risen, you have not been delivered from your sins. You're still in your sins, you are in bondage to sin, you're a slave of sin. And then he says, then also those of falling asleep in Christ have perished. That means those who have fallen in Christ, their chapters have really closed, they've gone dust to dust, ashes to ashes. And that's it, their chapter is completely closed, they're not going to be resurrected again. There is not going to be a life after death. There is not going to be a resurrection after death. There is not going to be a future eternal state. Many people believe that, that when they bury us that we go to dust to dust and that's it, we're finished. He says, if Christ has not risen, then that's what you will believe in. And I'll show you if you believe in that how you'll live your life.
In verse 20 he says, But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Firstfruits are the fruits that come up first in a harvest. You know if you plant seeds, and your harvest is coming, they rejoice over the first fruits and bring it to the Lord and give thanks because it's an indication that the rest of the harvest is on the way, alright. And Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection, that means we are going to be risen just like him. We're going to receive an incorruptible body just like him, that's why I read 51 to 58 in this chapter. And we are going to have an eternal state in which we live and so on. Then he says, For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Now basically, how Paul is putting his arguments is this. He says if Christ did not die, what would have happened? That's what he's explaining here. So I'm going to put it this way, I'm going to talk first about what would have happened if Christ did not die. What if Christ did not rise again from the dead. If he did not rise again from the dead, what would have happened? And then I'm going to talk about what if Christ did rise from the dead, what has happened. What has happened as a result of Him rising from the dead. So first what if He did not, secondly, what has happened because he did rise from the dead.
So let's talk about the first one, what if it did not happen? What if He did not rise from the dead? And that's the question Paul takes up here and that's the argument he puts it, and let me put it very simply for you in three points, what this thing is. First of all he means to say that if Christ did not rise from the dead, then the whole Bible cannot be trusted. We can completely throw away the Bible, that's what he means. He means that we are false witnesses, everyone from Peter to himself, and the Old Testament prophets. Everybody is speaking the lie. Everybody has some fake news, given some fake news, it is not right. The whole Bible will be declared as not reliable, it will amount to nothing; because you consider the New Testament... I need to say this because some people say things like, "Brother, tell us about the sermon on the mount, it's so nice. We'll say amen to it, we all need it. Sermon on the mount is such moral teaching, it's wonderful. Don't tell us about the resurrection, tell us about the sermon on the mount." Let me ask you who gave the sermon on the mount? Jesus gave the sermon on the mount, you like the sermon on the mount? Jesus gave the sermon on the mount.
Now, that person's credibility is important, you want to believe in the sermon on the mount, the preacher's credibility is very important, otherwise you have to throw the whole thing out. The preacher who preached the sermon on the mount, said that He will die and will be in the grave three days and then He'll be risen. That He has been born to die, that He is going to suffer and die. He spoke about His suffering and the manner of suffering, and how He would suffer and die, and then He'll be raised back up in three days. He told that very clearly. And if it did not happen and the whole resurrection fact is a hoax, then this Jesus cannot be trusted. His words in the sermon on the mount cannot also be trusted. Because his words concerning his death and resurrection is wrong, then his words in the sermon on the mount cannot be trusted. If He's wrong in declaring that He will suffer and be raised again by God on the third day. If He's wrong in that, then how can you trust when He talks about blessed are the poor in spirit and all that. All those words have no meaning at all, no significance, they carry no weight because it comes from the mouth of a man who thinks He's something, but He's nothing, He's a dead man.
But if He did rise from the dead, then every word that He spoke is truth. If He did rise from the dead, as He said, then every word that he spoke is true. That is the logic that Paul employs here So the whole New Testament is not just some moral teaching. There is a moral teaching but it's all based on the death and the resurrection of Christ. So minus the resurrection, all of those things amount to nothing. You have to throw the whole New Testament out, what about the Old Testament? When you go to the Old Testament is full of sacrifices, bloodshed, Passover Lamb, that kind of a thing. He established some practice among the Israeli people, that every year they offered you know... they celebrated certain feasts and festivals. But they offered sacrifices and every day they offered sacrifices. There was morning sacrifice, evening sacrifice, the Old Testament is full of sacrifices and the shedding of blood. Why? What's the point? Because the Old Testament... the whole point of the Old Testament is to reveal Christ. It is to tell us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. And that Jesus Christ is the lamb of God the Passover Lamb. Typified by the Passover Lamb that that was killed on the day that the people of Israel left Egypt. The whole teaching is based on His death and His resurrection and all of that. So you have to throw the whole Old Testament also. You take away the resurrection of Jesus, then everything gets cancelled, everything becomes meaningless. So that is one thing.
The second thing is if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then we really can't have any hope beyond this life. Like I said when you die, when you close your eyes and they put you in the grave, finished, that's it, you go dust to dust and we'll never see you again. There is no future for you beyond that. Just think what will happen if you believed that, if somebody believed that. And there are people who believe that. I want to read to you a passage from a very great man who did not believe in the resurrection. He's a spokesman for those who do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you may have heard about him. Bertrand Russell, he wrote books like Why I Am Not a Christian, What I Believe. And so many books he's written, very famous, very great man, great mind, a great philosopher. But if you do not believe that there is life after this life, if you do not believe in life after death, that there will be a resurrection and there'll be life after that. What kind of approach you'll have about life? What will you think about life? What kind of life you will have? You can see that in Bertrand Russell's words.
Let me read to you, I actually translated in Tamil and read it for the Tamil people, very interesting statement. Look at him talking about life, he says, "The life of man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain toward a goal which only a few can hope to reach. And where none may tarry long." He says it's like a journey in the night, all enemies are there, like wild animals in the forest you know, you're going there by night and all kinds of dangers are there. And you're weak and tired, and you're going towards a goal which only a few can reach and only a few can hold on to for a long time. And then he says, "One by one as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight." He's talking about how they die, all our friends, family and so on, one by one they leave us. "They vanish from our sight seized by the silent orders of omnipotent death." See he doesn't know the omnipotent God, so only thing omnipotent for him is death. He's very sure about it because with death you cannot play, when it comes you got to go. When it calls you've got to just simply pack your bags and go. You cannot disobey death, it just takes you away. He says that's omnipotent, it's almighty. He says, people one by one... people that are with you they leave you, he says, because the omnipotent death seized them by silent orders, he says. Look at the powerful words, "Brief and powerless," he says, "is man's life." What a statement, "Brief and powerless is man's life." Such a great man, such a great mind, everybody thinks he's so great and look at his view of life. Very sad for a great man to view life like this, brief and powerless is a man's life.
"On him and all his race, that is man and his race, the slow sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Destruction comes pitilessly and falls upon him, slowly but surely," he says. "Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter roles on its relentless way. Nobody can stop death from doing its job," it says, "for man condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gates of darkness." That is someone dies today in the family and later on we also die and follow them through the gates of the darkness. "And what remains is this, it remains only to cherish before yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day." The only thing that you are left to cherish is the thoughts that make your very brief life sweet, or bearable. You've got to just live with that, that's all you've got left, nothing is left. You're just going to be taken by death one day, the almighty power of death is going to come and grab you. You don't know when you're going to be gone and life is over, life is powerless, life is brief and he laments on it.
Now how many of you like to live like that, with that kind of a view? A Christian does not live like that because a Christian believes that when you dies, you're going to be with the Lord. And that one day that Jesus is going to come back and recover our body from the grave, and give us back our body so that we are in full shape once again. Even in better shape because our body will then become incorruptible body. That is what verse 51 to 58 is talking about, and that's why I read that. We'll receive a new body, which cannot be destroyed, which cannot be killed, which cannot die. An incorruptible body, a glorious body. And live on in that state forever with the lord Jesus Christ. That makes a Christian totally different, if you don't believe that, then Paul says in verse 19, he says, Even this life only we have hope in Christ, we of all men most miserable. One translation says, the translation I have is New King James, it says, most pitiable, amazing words. If you have hope only for this life, you're of all men most miserable, he says. That's Paul's understanding of how important it is to believe the truth about resurrection. Resurrection is an important truth, do I believe it or not, it matters. It matters when it comes to my life, how I'm going to live. I don't want to live like Bertrand Russell you know, lamenting oh the almighty power of death that might come anytime and grab me and take me and everything, you know. No, I want to be like Paul. He says I am torn between the two things, whether to stay here and to preach to you, he says, or to go on to be with the Lord which I would love to do, he says. What an attitude. He says I'd love to go on to be with the Lord because it's going to be better, there it's going to be even better, he says. But I'd love to stay here and preach to you because you need me, you need my help to teach you. And finally he decides to stay a little longer. But the man has no problem about going, death for him is simply a gateway which takes him from this life into the next life. He is not talking about going into the grave and the grave becoming his end.
Some Christian people believe... one fellow said, "No matter how high you live and how wonderful you live and what all you have, finally it's only 3 by 6." 3 feet by 6 feet, he means, that grave. That's where you end up, that's the end. Who said that, that's a temporary place they keep you because they can't keep you at home, after you're dead you know. They keep you temporarily there because there's no other way until Jesus comes. But when Jesus comesat the sound of the trumpet, the graves will be open, every grave that you see today will be opened. And the dead in Christ will rise first, the Bible says, and they will meet the Lord. And our bodies will be changed in a twinkling of an eye, to an incorruptible, glorious body that never dies. Then only our redemption will be complete, then only what Jesus did on the cross of Calvary will be consummated, that's the way the Bible speaks about it. So death to a Christian is different, that's why Christians don't lament beating on their chest, rolling on the floor. No, we don't do that. We wipe our tears, we have tears, we have sorrow, because if someone leaves us after being there so long in our family, we certainly have sorrow, but we don't grief like those that don't know the truth. For those that don't know the truth, they have to grieve like that because they think the chapter is over. The guy is going to go dust to dust, ashes to ashes, you never see him again, there is no life beyond this. this is it, you've seen him last, but when we put a body in the grave we think we're going to see him again, when Jesus comes we will see them again. We will meet and we' bid farewell to the guy. That's the way we approach death, the entire change of attitude. Does resurrection matter? Yes it matters because it gives you hope beyond this life and makes you live in a totally different way, unafraid of death. With a wholesome attitude about life and going on into eternity. That's the way one should live, not be terrorized by death like this man is. Such a great man but literally talks about omnipotent power of death that simply comes and grabs people and takes away and they disappear.
Thirdly, if Christ did not rise again, we will not have any release from our guilt of sin. It's very important, guild has two aspects. One is the guilt because of the sins you have committed, the other is the power of sin itself, which holds you in bondage and makes you do the things, the very things that you don't want to do. You know it's wrong and you don't even wish to do it, but you end up doing, why? Because you're powerless, sin rules over you. So let's mention these two things right. Sin is about what you have done, the things that you've done wrong and it weighs heavily on you. Now the fact that sin bothers you and sin disturbs you enought in your conscious so that you don't sleep well, you don't live well, you hang your head down and you're ashamed of yourself. You feel very small because of the wrong things that you've done until that thing is fixed. Sin is a very heavy burden to bear, even the young child knows it. Have you told a child not to touch something and the child when you were away touched it, broke it. And when you come back, when you're coming through this way, the child is gone through the back door you know, why? Sin's burden and now weighs upon the child, the child feels very disturbed, cannot even look at your face, cannot come and play with you, cannot come and talk with you, cannot come and fellowship with you.
I remember I sinned one time when I was in school, I did something wrong. The head master called me, he's a good man. He was a reverend you know, pastor. So he's a very weak person also and could not... he had canes hanging there but he couldn't use them very well. He always called somebody else to to cane. So he called me and he said, listen, "Don't come to school unless you bring your father or mother. I don't want you to come to school if you don't bring your father or mother." So I went home, now how to tell father or mother, you're going to get in trouble, you know. So the next day they packed my lunch, I went to school, sat outside in the park. Had to hide from everybody, and eat my food at lunch and wait for the school to be over and come like a thief in the night, you know, to the house. Hope nobody knows that I've not gone in the classroom you know, and come back and act normal, very difficult, it's all acting. It demands a lot of good acting, and it's going to spill out one way or the other. Next day I did it, third day I did it, fourth day I did it and I couldn't take it. The burden of sin weighed so heavily on me, so finally I said how many days I'm going to do it? I can't do it every day, this is hell. So I went and told my mother and father. My father said, "Look, you're putting me to shame, I can't come and talk to those people for you." And so my mother said, "I'll come." So she came, and lo and behold the man who was the principal, has known my mother from a young age. So he saw my mother and said, "Alice, is this your son?" And he said to me go to class, and he put her in there the living room in his house, and told her everything about me, you know. And when I came home that evening, my father was waiting for me with a belt. And boy, it was good beating that day, I've never forgotten it. I got it good that day. And he was angry, and I got good punishment. But you know how sweet it was when it was over, because after I got good whipping, I was at peace because I know that the matter is settled now. I can go to class tomorrow, I can sit on the table and eat with everybody. I don't have to hide, I don't have to lie, I don't have to, you know, be like a crook in the house. The matter is settled, the Bible puts it very beautifully. He was bruised for our transgressions. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was laid upon Him and by His stripes we are healed. The whipping that we were supposed to receive, He received upon Himself, by his stripes we were healed. His stripes gives me peace, when I put my faith in the fact that He suffered for me, He took my sin, He was whipped on the cross of Calvary for me. It brings me great peace, that's what the Christian teaching is all about. I believe that Jesus bore not only sin but my punishment for my sin. The Father placed it on Him, and counts me as righteous. The chastisement of my peace, the whipping that I was supposed to receive, that means, was placed upon Him. He was whipped and I got peace, that's a good deal isn't it? Amen.
So the burden of sin is a very heavy matter, you've got to settle it. Some people live with the burden of sin with all the wrong accumulated, putting them to shame, they hang their head down. They live in constant state of condemnation of themselves for all the wrong that they've done. They remember every wrong doing and live with it, they cannot function well, they cannot be creative, they cannot work very well. They cannot excel in their work and in their life and in spiritual life. In prayer they're not successful because they don't have the confidence to come before God and ask and receive and so on. Faith is not working, because it works by love, not by guilt, nothing is working. Unless you settle the matter of guilt due to sin, nothing will work. But what about the bondage to sin? That is totally another matter, that is what Paul talks about when he says the very thing that I want to do, I'm not able to do. The very thing that I don't want to do, I know it's wrong, I know it's sin. I'm a religious man, I'm a Pharisee, I don't want to do those things, but I end up doing those things like a pig that goes back again and falls into the slush. I again and again fail in trying to do that which is good. I'm trying my best to live for God, I am a failure, how many of you felt like that? See that's what life is like without Christ, again and again, you know. You've been raised in a way to do good and so on, but the thing is the nature of sin is there, sin is very powerful, you know. See the apostle Paul, who wrote this, feels this I know, when he writes it.
You know, Paul, during the lifetime of Jesus he never met Jesus, he came and studied in Jerusalem at one point. He's from Tarsus, a gentile city, a Roman city, but he came to Jerusalem because he's Hebrew, and studied there under a great man named Gameliel. But it was before Jesus started His ministry and became known. He studied and went back to his native place, Tarsus. And in the meanwhile here, Jesus started to do ministry and he became very popular and people followed Him and so on, then finally three and a half years later He was crucified and He died on the cross. And then He rose again, and then the news began to spread, people began to preach saying that Jesus has risen. And the whole of Jerusalem was filled with his teaching, so that every street almost had a little gathering of people, gathering together in their homes, praising God and breaking bread, and receiving teaching and worshipping the Lord. Christianity was spreading so fast, like wildfire. And most of the converts were Jewish, from Jewish background and Jews got very upset. They said, "You've got to stop the advance of Christianity, this is growing too fast. Too many people are getting converted to it, we're losing so many people, what to do? And they decided finally, they remembered a young man named Saul, who came and studied, a brilliant young man who was very zealous. Paul himself says at one place that, "I had a greater zeal than my seniors," he said. Zealous, a man who would even dare to kill and destroy for the sake of his faith. This is like a terrorist like you know, they said let's bring him on because he's very brilliant, he can present the arguments very powerfully for our Jewish people, he can stop them from converting to Christianity. And he can also go against the Christians and stop them from progressing and preaching the gospel.
So they bring him, and here he is running rampage through the city of Jerusalem, destroying churches, destroying Christian people, preachers and so on. And bringing on persecution so that when they heard the name Saul, the church trembled, literally. And one of the victims I believe, was Stephen, was a martyr. While Stephen died being stoned, Paul was standing there and they say they laid their belongings at Saul's feet. Saul was watching of everybody's belongings as they stoned him. It looks like he's the organizer, he's the instigator, he's the man behind the whole thing, the persecution. And when Stephen was dying in his last moment, he lifted up his head and looks up and he sees Jesus there standing. And people are stoning him, killing him, and he cried out to God and prayed, "Father forgive these people, they do not know what they are doing." And Saul was standing there and watching, and then he committed his life to God and died.
I think Paul from that day onwards had a difficult time sleeping. See some people think that he was on his road to Damascus and all of a sudden a bright shining light came on and he fell and then Jesus spoke to him and he was converted. No, no, no, this is something that's been going on I think from the time that he saw Stephen's martyrdom. From that time his heart began to bother him and disturb him. He began to think, "I'm a religious person, I'm a Pharisee. But look how much hatred I have! Look at my heart, it is so full of darkness and evil that I can stand there and watch a man being stoned and killed and be behind the whole thing. And be supportive of that effort, and not even feel anything bad about it, instigate that, start that whole thing and be glad about it. What kind of a heart I have? What kind of a religion do I believe in? What kind of a faith am I following? Why I'm so evil? What is wrong with me? It is the same Paul that wrote in Romans chapter 7. The very thing that I want to do, I'm not able to do. The thing that I don't want to do, I end up doing. Who can save me from this wretchedness? he says. Strong words, Who can save me from this wretchedness? And then next verse he says, Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, because that's the answer. Jesus is the one that saved him. And the answer to the question: why am I doing this? Why am I doing exactly that which I don't want to do? He answers in Romans 7, he says, Because sin resides in me. He's a man that knew the power of sin and how it works in the heart of man. The power of sin that brings on hatred, where you can kill others, hate others. Unjustly behave towards others, do the wrong things, persecute others. He said what kind of a religion is this I'm having? He began to doubt his own Jewish faith from that moment onwards.
You read the biographies of Paul, many people mention this. That from that moment, he began to doubt his Jewish faith, he began to say to himself, what good is a faith when it can't change my heart? What good is my zeal for that faith? I'm ready to even die for my faith, for my religion, but that religion does nothing to me, it doesn't change me. It doesn't truly convert me in my heart, it doesn't make me a good person. It doesn't give me love, what good is it? He began to question, and I hope that many people begin to question like this. When this question comes up it's good because you're going to get the answer also, you know. He began to question his own religion, his own faith, what it has done for him, what it has produced in him. He was thinking about it, many days I think were tormenting days for him. He could not sleep, he thought about Stephen dying, he saw that Stephen, far better man than himself. Somehow by his association with the Lord Jesus Christ Stephen has become like Jesus, he prayed the exact same prayer that Jesus prayed on the cross. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." He's become like his Lord, whom you worship, you become like the one you worship, you know. It's so important who you worship, he worshipped God who is love and love begins to dominate his heart and his character was changed, he became a new man. People are stoning him and he's praying for them. Paul thought what a fine fellow he is, and we killed him. And what a religious stupidity I follow. What kind of a hatred does my religious teaching brought upon me? It has not changed me on the inside, made a better man of me. What good is it to me?
And he was thinking these things, contemplating these things and was traveling on the road to Damascus, going on to persecute Christians. And the Lord stops him, and immediately he recognized it's the Lord because when he fell down, he says, "Lord, who are you?" He knew it's the Lord. He couldn't believe in the first instance that Stephen told about the resurrection of Jesus and his preaching. He doubted the resurrection, he thought it would not have happened. But the more he looked at Stephen and the way he behaved, he thought maybe there is a truth to it. Maybe there is a risen Christ and that risen Christ can change your life, he thought about it. And there he was converted. I hope many people like that will be converted. This is not conversion by a rice and milk powder. This is conversion by the power of the holy spirit, convicting power of the holy spirit.
Paul was a changed man, so he knows what he's writing. If Christ did not die, he says, you are yet in your sins. That's what he says here. If Christ did not die you're still a slave to sin, look at your heart, he says, is sin dominating you? Is hatred dominating you? Is evil dominating your heart? You're doing the things that you don't want to do? You know it's wrong and you can't help yourself? He says, that means you're a slave to sin. If Christ has not risen, you're a slave to sin. If Christ has risen, then you can be free from sin. You can be set free, the chains of bondage to sin can be broken and you can become a new man, a new future, you can become a wonderful person. You can become like this Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. So he says if Christ has not risen, you're still in your sins. Let me simply just mention here, those three things are the important things that I want to deal with. If you just turn it around, you'll know what happens, what has happened because of resurrection. Resurrection has happened, so what does that mean? Let me quickly tell this to you, first of all it means that that same Jesus, the sweet, wonderful, compassionate, loving God who revealed God to us, God the Father to us. This God who never did evil, did only good. The one who healed and delivered and set the demon possessed free. Healed the sick, forgave the sinners, He's still around, He's alive. Not only is He alive, secondly He's available and He can do the same thing for us. He has not changed, He has not diminished in His power. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. He can do the same things for us. The Jesus who changed Stephen and changed Saul into a wonderful person, He's still around. His promises are true, you can believe His promises, it is true.
Thirdly, it means that freedom from guilt is ours today, sin's guilt is gone. It means because Jesus has risen, that is guaranteed to me that my sin has been taken care of. You know what death is all about, what the death of Jesus is all about? He came to die for my sins. When He did the job perfectly and completely, heaven saw that it was complete and perfectly done. And Jesus was already in the grave, He shed his blood, died on the cross, was buried and heaven declared that his work of atonement for man's sin has been accepted by the supreme court of heaven. Therefore the son of God need not remain dead. When He was raised, the Bible says in Romans 4:25, that He was raised up for our justification. That means He was raised up because the work has been perfectly taken care of and done and finished. And the raising up of Jesus means that my sin is completely gone. As far as east is from the west, and God is dropped into the bottomless ocean and He says, "I will remember your sins no more." Taken care of, because Jesus has risen, we can come here joyfully sing. Not live under the heavy burden of sin.
Fourthly because He has taken care of our sin problem, we're free from sin. We're not on the bondage to sin, we're not doing things that we don't want to do. We're able to do the things that the Bible tells us to do by the power of the Holy Spirit. We're able to live a life for God. And next, we're able to proclaim the gospel to the captives, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind. And set at liberty them that are bruised, there are too many people wounded, hurting, suffering in this world. And we can, with hope and faith and surety, go and declare to them, there is Savior, there is a Liberator that will set you free. Heal your broken heart, set your heart free from all your pains and give you peace. We can do that, and it also means that the grave is not the end of the road. The grave is not the end of the road. Paul says, I'm torn between the two, to go or stay, because of you I want to teach you, he says, but going is also good.
Finally, this risen savior means that God is going to judge the world by Him one day. I just want to read one verse and we'll close, Acts chapter 17. Paul preaching in Athens, he says this truly, these times of ignorance got overlooked but now commands all men everywhere to repent. This is a city of philosophers and his preaching there. He says this, Because He has appointed a day on which he will judge the world and righteousness by the man whom he has ordained. Which man is that? He has given assurance of this to all by raising, that man, from the dead. John's gospel says that God has given the responsibility of judgement to his son. God said, "I'm not going to judge, son, I give you the honor of doing the judgement." Now a lot of people don't like judgement, you know. Like some people say, "Who is he to judge me? Did he go to work in Chennai, India? Does he know what it takes to go out and earn some money? To put food on the table and meet your needs? You've got to be a real crook to make some money here. You've got to lie, steal and you've got to do all kinds of things and do all kinds of evil in order to just live. What does he know? How can God, who lives in heaven in all comfort and luxury, judge me who's gone through all this pain and suffering in this world, these challenges that I face in this evil world. How can he judge me?" Such people are going to find a shock one day, when they stand before judgement because they're going to see a man judging. A man who suffered more than anyone of us can suffer. Who lived in this evil world, suffered every injustice, was treated so badly, died hanging naked on the cross of Calvary, spit upon, slapped, hit, tormented, died in utter shame. The world treated Him the worst, equal to the thieves that were hanging, the biggest criminals of the day. That is no way to treat a good man, no sin was found in Him. That man, who suffered like that is going to be the judge.
Why should he judge? people say. I say to you this world is God's gift to man, God gave everything in this world to man. You want to live in this world? You need to live by God's order, by God's rules, by God's principles because He made it. And if you don't live by God's principles, some people think, well nobody is going to ask me. But one day we'll all stand before a judge and that judge is going to be Jesus. And the Bible says, Paul says God raised him from the dead so that he can judge. Judgement is one of the things that is committed to the risen Christ. Amen. Are you there? What a joy it is to be a Christian, to be free from sin and guilt, to be free from the power and the bondage of sin. I don't mean to say that we are perfect in any way. One guy said, "Well, we're preaching about Christ, you know, are Christians perfect?" Who said they are perfect? Just think of a hospital when you think about a church. What is a hospital? Dying people have been brought with great sickness. So they've got critical care, intensive care and general ward also. So some of us are in critical care, this disease called sin has gotten in there and has almost killed us and we are very dangerous conditions. Medicine is being administered, doctors are attending, we're getting slightly better, we're not perfect. Some of us have progressed and have been moved to the regular room. We're sitting and eating, doing better, but we're not perfect, we're not discharged yet. Who said we are perfect? They're attending to us, we're getting healed, we're getting better and better. We are not like what we used to be before, we are not the sinners that we were. We've put our faith in Christ and like Stephen has become like Jesus in some way, we're also becoming like the one we worship. Here and there you can see that a little bit. That we are becoming like Jesus, and as you go on more and more you become like Him. Amen. So nobody says Christians are perfect but I say to you that Christians are forgiven people, Christians are people whose guilt is gone, Christians are people who are free from the bondage of sin because Christ is risen, He has finished the work. Amen. Now you may go and celebrate, eat your briyani or whatever. While you're eating just give thanks to God say, "Lord I thank you for this joy of eating without any guilt." Amen. Today you may freely eat, God says you may freely eat of all the things on the table, just give praise to God.