Epic Jesus – His gospel saves!
A VERY SPECIAL SUNDAY Video Clip! Just like Eliana & Elysia I pray you’ll come back on Easter weekend. Easter weekend is truly a very special Saturday night and Sunday morning! WHY - because Jesus came back from the dead never to die again! Speaking of coming back from the dead let me introduce you to 55 year old Richard Paylor.
Richard is a 23 year veteran truck driver. How many here have ever eaten something while driving? Well, Richard has too. On March 29 Richard was driving his tractor-trailer and decided to snack on an apple. The only problem is that he begins to choke. There’s no one there to help him. Something tells me he should have pulled over immediately, but he did not. Paylor says he then blacked out. Witnesses say the truck swerved before crashing into a concrete barrier near Reading, PA. Now here’s what’s crazy. The impact dislodged the apple from Paylor's throat.[i] Police recovered a chunk of apple on the dashboard. Paylor was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. He told the Reading Eagle, "I guess I have to thank the wall.” [ii]
Call me crazy, but he might be better off thanking God! I was counting, were you? Richard didn’t CHEAT death once, but twice. Jesus however beat death once and for all, but not everyone believes that to be true! Turn in your Bibles to 1st Corinthians 15. Do you need a Bible? Last week we focused on verse 58 where Paul gives three commands. Be steadfast! Be immovable! Abound in the work of the Lord! And the reason why? Jesus is epic! And what makes Jesus impressively great is that he came back from the dead and you will too, but only if you do what Steve Perry sang so well, “Don’t Stop Believin’!”
Paul is dealing with people right here WHO ARE ON THE VERGE OF not believing! Is that you today? What has thrown a wrench in your life that’s now tempting you NOT to believe that Jesus is EPIC! Or maybe it’s a person. Robert Lalonde was driving his car and he saw this license plate - BAA BAA. He was clueless as to the meaning until he noticed it was attached to a black Jeep. “BAA BAA black jeep have you any wool.” Go to 1st Corinthians 15:33. (33 & 34) What was their sin? The sin of unbelief. There were some “black sheep” teachers in Corinth who were teaching that Jesus was less than epic. Go now to the beginning of 1st Corinthians 15. Let’s read verse 1.
This verse is a preacher’s dream. These Corinthians had forgotten Paul’s words which are actually the words of Jesus! I don’t feel so bad now. Some messages are forgettable. But many are not. Every preacher worth his salt realizes his purpose. I say what’s already been said. I proclaim what’s already been proclaimed. I am one giant post-it-note! Why do you use post-it-notes? It’s to leave a message, right? No, you use post-it-notes to pull pranks on people. What message are these people saying? (Post-it-note trucks) I use post-it-notes to remind me to do something. Email John! Call Tricia! Get milk! Go home! Paul wants to remind us of what Jesus said and did! We call this the gospel! Go back to verse 1. This word “gospel” is this word - euaggelion (yoo·ang·ghel·ee·on) which means “glad tidings or good news!”[iii] I have good news for you. It’s supposed to be 85 today! I have good news for you. Our government is still functioning. I have good news for you. Charlie Sheen left Columbus. I have good news for you. The chair you are sitting on was tightened and cleaned “big time” this past week. I have good news for you. $443,833.22 has been pledged for our Five Smooth Stones emphasis. We are going to defeat all five giants, but not without your help! What’s amazing is that this $443,000+ represents only 82 commitments! Hopefully some of you turned yours in today, but what we know is that 418 people give at Westerville Christian. This means that 336 still have an opportunity to respond. Please turn in your card no later than next weekend. I have good news for you. Well, actually Paul does. Let’s read what Paul has already preached. Go back to chapter 1 and find verse 17. (Read 17, 18, 30 – 1st Cor. 2: 1-2! I have good news for you! Jesus was crucified for you and for me! Let’s focus our attention on Jesus’ sacrificial death. Ushers, would you go now and prepare for communion! Since we’re already in 1st Corinthians let’s read what Paul said in chapter 11 verse 23! (Read 23-26) Jesus died! That’s not unusual. 153,000 people die every day![iv] What makes Jesus’ death epic is that he died for you! I won’t die for you and even if I could – it wouldn’t matter because I’m not sinless. Jesus is the sinless Son of God! Put your faith in him! Let’s pray! (Communion here)
J.C. Ryle said years ago, “The Lord’s Supper was intended to remind us, by the visible, tangible emblems of bread and wine, that the offering of Christ’s body and blood for us on the cross, is the only atonement for sin…”[v] Tell me again what the word “gospel” means? Good news. Honestly, Paul thinks it’s even better than that. Let’s read 1st Corinthians 15: 1-2a.
Every state has a motto[vi]. Ohio’s state motto is “With God All Things Are Possible.” Teri Matheson is a comedian and she suggested a few new state mottos.[vii] For instance the state motto for Alabama is We Dare Defend our Rights. She suggested this change: At Least we're not Mississippi. Arizona’s motto is God Enriches. Her suggestion: But it’s a Dry Heat. Illinois: State Sovereignty, National Union. Her change: Please Don't Pronounce the "S" Kentucky: "United we stand, divided we fall" Her suggestion: Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names. North Carolina: To be, rather than to seem. Her suggestion: Tobacco is a vegetable. Finally, Utah. Their state motto is one word: Industry. Her suggestion: Our Jesus Is Better than Your Jesus!
What does she mean by that? On two occasions in the last six weeks I’ve been asked to consider the Mormon faith. Let me provide you with two helpful websites. One is www.religionfacts.com and the second is www.mission2mormons.org. The Bible tells us that Jesus is epic! Let me give you just a brief comparison on what a Mormon says about Jesus and what the Bible says about Jesus! Jesus Christ to a Mormon is the Son of God, Savior, originally one of the spirit beings that all humans used to be. Jesus had a physical body. The Bible says Jesus is the Son of God, the Word of God, is God, and is the second Person of the Godhead. When it comes to sin. LDS: Sins are specific acts, not man's basic nature. (The Articles of Faith) The Bible says, Man is in spiritual rebellion until conversion. (Ephesians 2:3) What about grace? LDS: Christ's death brought universal resurrection, but beyond this man must earn his place in one of three heavens. (Mormon Doctrine p. 669-672) The Bible says, Salvation is based on the belief of each individual in Jesus. (Romans 1:16) What about the gospel?
LDS: The gospel is the Mormon Church system and doctrines. (Mormon Doctrine p. 331) The Bible says: The gospel is the message of Christ's death and resurrection as atonement (to remove or forgive sins) for our sins. (I Corinthians 15:1 & 4) Harry Ropp in his book, The Mormon papers said, “Every Mormon is responsible to work out his own salvation beyond what Christ has done for him.”[viii] I totally get responsibility. I get that we are to be obedient to what God says – but what makes Jesus EPIC is that his gospel saves us – PERIOD! Go back to verse 2 in 1st Corinthians 15!
The gospel is “glad tidings.” The gospel is “good news.” The gospels are four books in the NT and in terms of percentage they cover almost ½ of the New Testament.[ix] The gospel is four witnesses of Jesus named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John! They wrote down what Jesus said. Not everything Jesus said. Only what God inspired them to say… I’m feeling a little “puny” right now. Bear with me. Why did the clown go to the doctor? He was feeling a little funny. Why did the boy take a hammer to bed with him? He wanted to hit the sack. Why did the sword swallower swallow an umbrella? He wanted to put something away for a rainy day! Why did the reporter go to the ice cream parlor? He wanted a scoop. Let me give you the scoop! Jesus is EPIC! You can’t get to God without him! You can’t do enough to earn your way there! BUT I must point out an IF.. Go back again to verse 2. What is faith? Faith is taking God at his word!
Here’s our responsibility! We’ve got to keep the faith! We’ve got to keep trusting God even when things seem bleak! Did you hear about the Egyptian Cobra that slithered away from the Reptile house at the Bronx Zoo in late March? The snake went AWOL for seven days. The snake was actually located in a dark corner of the Reptile house, but people were saying they had seen it swallowing a cupcake at a deli, in Tina Fey’s dressing room, on Wall Street – one man commented, “If you see a bag of peanuts moving on its own at Yankee Stadium you might want to avoid it!” The truth is the snake never left the Reptile House. The truth is only the gospel can save you. The gospel is the life, death, resurrection and return of Jesus! Do you remember Richard Paylor, our apple choking truck driver? He cheated death twice. I wouldn’t push my luck a third time. Put your trust in Jesus, after all, he’s EPIC!
[iii] Logos Bible Software/gospel/1st Corinthians 15:1
[vii] http://www.gcfl.net/March 28, 2011
[viii] Harry Ropp, The Mormon Papers, 21
[ix] Duvall & Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 244