Part 1 of the post-Easter series, "Cristo Vive" (Christ Lives). Did Jesus really rise from the dead? How confident are you? Could you convince a skeptic? Our belief in the "historicity" of Christ's resurrection is vital for our faith. It's even vital for our very salvation. And so, while the ideal is to believe without seeing or having absolute proof or certainty, God still understands that our faith at times needs to be strengthened by physical evidence, and more importantly, by the evidence of transformed character in our lives and the lives of others. This sermon examines some of this evidence for the truth of Christ's resurrection. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? There are ways to build our faith in this area and become more sure.
Part 2 of the post-Easter series, "Cristo Vive" (Christ Lives). What is it that brought Jesus back from the dead? God? Certainly. But specifically, we must assume based on the principles throughout Scripture, that he was made alive again by the breath of God, by God's Spirit entering in once again. You and I have the promise of a future resurrection because Jesus was the first to rise. But, we don't have to wait for heaven to experience this. In many ways, our resurrection begins now: through the regeneration of our heart, our mind, our emotions, our focus, and actions. We can live as a new creation and in newness of life long before heaven. But to do so we must, like Jesus, first breathe in the breath of God's Holy Spirit and honor God's Spirit in everything that we do.
Part 3 of the post-Easter series, "Cristo Vive" (Christ Lives). The people of Nehemiah's day weren't too different than those who heard Peter preach on the day of Pentecost. The Word of God they heard caused sorrow in their hearts. But the good news of God's promised restoration was ultimately a reason to rejoice. Is this how we experience our Christianity? Particularly the truth that Christ is risen? Does it ultimately spark joy in our lives? Despite the fact that there is still darkness in the world, outside us and within, God commands that we take ownership of our restoration in him by confessing, as an act of faith sometimes, the joy and celebration of our new life in Christ. We should be people of joy and should celebrate here on earth as reflection of the eternal celebration that awaits us.
Part 4 of the post-Easter series, "Cristo Vive" (Christ Lives). People always say that it's important to maintain a heart of thanksgiving, an "attitude of gratitude" where we count our blessings and remember why life isn't as bad as we might think. However, the joy God wants us to have isn't just about being thankful for what we have, it's in being thankful for God himself: as the author of life and death, as the one sovereign over all things, as the one who loves us and knows what's best for us. This is a heart of thanks that transcends our circumstances, whether good or bad. It's a heart of thanks that calls us to live our lives returning the favor, to return to God everything he has most graciously given to us.