My name is David Sorn, I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church
Happy Easter Weekend to you!
Are you familiar with the gameshow “Let's Make a Deal?”
…where people dress up in funny costumes and try to win a prize behind one of the mystery doors?
I want you to Imagine you're on the show, dressed as a giant, pink Peep, but instead of playing for a car or a blender, you are playing for where you are going to live for the next 25 years.
And you have agreed to live where ever is behind the door of your choice…whether it’s good, bad, or Wisconsin.
The host informs you that behind one of the doors are the keys to a space that is an amazingly, luxurious…it’s filled with an abundance of everything you’d ever need…
But, behind the other door…are the keys to a broken down living space, that looks miserable, smells miserable, and in fact, you’ll probably be miserable living there.
Now, since this is SUCH a big deal, they’ve made an exception for you, and they are going to give you three months to research which mystery door you should open…since you don’t know which door leads to which space.
If this were you…what would you do?
If it were me, I’m doing everything I can in those 3 months to make sure I make the right choice.
25 years is a long time.
25 years ago…1994…long time ago.
You know who had the #1 song in 1994?
ACE OF BASE. I rest my case. J
I don’t want to stake the next 25 years of my life on a guess.
So I’m going to try and get everything I can out of host Wayne Brady…
I’m going to talk the stage hands (what have you seen?
I’m talking to previous contestants…
I’m studying old episodes to see which door usually has the good stuff
Okay, Now let’s take this same thought, but make it bigger.
You’ve got mystery doors…but they lead to the afterlife (after death)
One is heaven. One is hell.
You’ve now got a lifetime to research it…and figure it out.
But it will last, not for 25 years, but for forever.
And it will be permanent
Whenever, I hear it explained like that, I’m reminded that our decision on this issue is the most pressing of our lifetime.
Whom we marry, or where we go to school…they pale in comparison.
But you don’t have to risk the next billion years of your life on a guess...like you’re on “let’s make a deal”
We don’t even guess on restaurants anymore…why would we do that with eternity?
How many of you just see a restaurant on the side of the road, and go, “Hey, let’s eat here”
No, you go home, and you spend 3 times as long reading reviews and researching it than you would actually eating at it!
Here’s what’s so great about Easter…
Jesus (the Son of God) dies on the cross…and is buried…
But then, he resurrects…he comes back to life!
If we want to know how to get to heaven…
Who better to ask then the one who’s actually been there!
But here’s the thing…
The story of Easter isn’t just about how Jesus was raised to life.
It’s bigger than that.
It actually points to how you and I can be raised to life…after WE die.
PAUL CONNECTS JESUS’ DEATH & RESURRECTION TO OUR OWN DEATH & RESURRECTION
I want you to look at a passage in the Bible with me
This is a letter, that was written by a man named Paul.
Paul was convinced that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead.
He thought it was all a scam.
And then, he had such a powerful experience of the risen Jesus, that he became Christianity’s most famous believer.
And Paul’s writing a letter where he’s telling people about the connection between Jesus’ death and resurrection at Easter…and our own death and resurrection
(Ephesians 2:4-6) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!!!!!!!
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
There’s a lot in here, but did you notice that 2 times Paul says that BEFORE we believed in Jesus, we are “dead”
The Bible calls this being “dead in your sins” (sin being where we go against God…we do what is wrong)
Because of our sin, we are what’s called “Spiritually Dead”
Both here on earth…and for what comes after earth
Think of it this way:
Imagine you’re taking a biology class…
The worst day ever in school…was when they asked you to dissect a frog…or a pig.
Some of you enjoyed that day…you need to see somebody…
But if you’re in college, or medical school, you’re going to have to go to the morgue someday.
Imagine you’re at the morgue, and you’re staring at a dead person.
In that moment, the difference between you and them…Paul says, is like the difference between someone who has been made alive by God and someone who has not.
When you’ve been made ALIVE by God…everything is different.
It’s like seeing in color when you used to see in black and white.
It’s like listening to good music when you used to listen to ACE OF BASE!
In the Bible, Jesus calls this earthly transformation from death to life being BORN AGAIN.
When you truly accept God into your life, and surrender your life to Jesus…
It’s like you are born into a kind of life you didn’t even know was possible on earth.
And so Easter is a picture of what God can do in your life.
Jesus dies, and is raised to life.
And he wants to do the same thing in your life!
If you would believe in Him…and surrender your life to Him.
But we were also told in that passage that if you surrender your life to Jesus, not only will He bring you a new lease on life here on earth…
…but it says that He can raise you from the dead…and you can be with Him in heaven.
And this is where we started in the beginning.
The most important questions for every single human being are:
“How do I have a relationship with God, and how can I be in heaven with him for eternity?”
There aren’t bigger questions than that.
So let’s talk about it.
How do we get there then? Which door do we open?
What does the Bible actually say about it?
Imagine you’re back in that morgue.
What if you said to that dead body, “Okay, dead person, raise yourself up!”
“Make yourself go to heaven!”
Can they do it?
No, they’re dead!
A dead person can’t do anything!
And the Bible says the same thing about all of us.
One of the most important things to understand, and perhaps one of the hardest for Americans, is that on our own, we are spiritually dead.
Like a real dead person, we are unable to save ourselves.
Because we all sin…
I’m probably at 15-20 sins for the day already.
And it’s our sin…that spiritually makes us dead.
Because God is a holy & just judge, so there must be justice for our sin.
The consequence of sin…is death.
And spiritually, that means that at the end of our lives, if our sin not paid for, we go to hell.
Imagine that sin is like an enormous weight on your body.
And when we’re lying in the grave…we can’t be raised to life in heaven unless something is done to take our sin away
And I get it, I just made a whole bunch of people uncomfortable.
Sin and hell are the new swear words in America.
Despite that fact that we all feel like the world is falling apart in front of our eyes…
We get uncomfortable with those words when they might personally apply to US.
I was talking with a nurse the other day, and they were telling me that they are seeing a trend where more and more patients, whenever they’re given news that they don’t want to hear, they just ask for a different doctor.
And I feel like, in a lot of ways, Americans treat spiritual things that way
We’re not so good at receiving a tough diagnosis
We live in this culture, where we’ve been told (since birth!) that we are the main character, the protagonist, the hero!
And yet, the Bible constantly describes Jesus as the hero.
He’s described as our “Savior (which means I need to be saved), Rescuer (which means I need to be rescued), and the Life-Giver (which means I need to be brought back to life)
We can’t save ourselves.
Our sin as made us spiritually dead. And dead people can’t save themselves.
This is the fundamental question for you today:
(Who will Raise you from the dead Slide)
WHO WILL RAISE YOU FROM THE DEAD?
When you die? And the sin is weighted on your body…
Who will raise you from the dead??
We’re not just sick in our sins…we’re dead in your sins.
Who will raise you from the dead?
2,000 years ago…on that first Easter weekend…Jesus willingly died on the cross.
Now why in the world would anyone do that?
He did it…because He was dying in your place…for your sins.
Paul says it this way in the Bible
(2 Corinthians 5:21) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
He’s saying that God sent His Son Jesus, who had never sinned, to die on the cross in your place.
To take the punishment we deserved for our sins.
And Jesus says, if you believe in Him, you believe He died for you, then God will then take the punishment off of you, and onto Jesus.
And if you trust in Jesus through faith, He’ll take that weight of sin off of our dead bodies, and He will raise you up!
(Who will Raise you from the dead slide)
And listen to me, God’s not just willing to forgive you and raise you to life just because it’s “the right thing to do”
He actually wants to have a RELATIONSHIP with you.
He wants to come into your life.
Did you know you can have a relationship with God??
This is what will make you come alive!
Think about this…In this letter, Ephesians, Paul describes our long list of sins and then he says…
BUT GOD…BUT GOD…
Look at it again:
(Ephesians 2:4-5) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
He LOVES YOU SO MUCH…that even though you’ve sinned against Him…maybe even ignored Him for most of your life…
He’s in love with you and wants to save you!
REFUSING HIS RESCUE
(Who will raise you from the dead slide)
Maybe you’ve never heard this true message of God’s love from the Bible before.
But if you have, I think a lot of us just kind of shrug it off…
And we say, “That’s nice…but I don’t need to surrender MY LIFE to Jesus.”
But if you don’t…Who will raise you from the dead then?
To which we say, “Well, I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine, because I’ve done enough good things”
And we start to rattle off the list in our minds: I volunteer, I coach my kids soccer team (we’re 0-12, I should get points for that_, I even am nice to my kids’ annoying friend who never stops talking”
Great, but none of us are perfect…we all sin…
The Bible says, “We all fall short of God’s standard”
And if we sin, even once, we’re dead spiritually…we can’t MAKE OURSELVES come alive with good deeds.
We can’t raise ourselves from the dead!
A few verses later in our passage, Paul says this about how we get saved:
(Ephesians 2:8-9) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION !!
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
His forgiveness, the chance to be saved…is a GIFT.
It’s freely given to those who accept it.
But you can’t earn it.
Without accepting that He died in your place…without accepting Him into your life…without opening the gift…we’re still dead in sin.
We won’t be raised.
No matter what we do.
(Who will raise you from the dead slide)
But we say, “NO. NO! But I’m not like so-and-so, they cheated on their wife…I’m not like so-and-so…they abused someone…they’re addicted to drugs…
If you have 100 dead corpses on the battlefield….
And some are completely mangled and unrecognizable…
While others, you can barely see where they are wounded…
In the end, it doesn’t matter which one “looks better” to onlookers…
The reality is…they’re all dead.
And the message of Easter, is that, Jesus, in His great love for you, wants you to accept His gift of LIFE
A DEAD PERSON CANNOT RAISE THEMSELVES
And yet, I worry that our American pride is going to cause us to miss his rescue…to refuse his gift.
Do you remember hearing about all the rescue units that came in during Hurricane Katrina?
One of the helicopter pilots who led several rescue missions, was Lieutenant Iain McConnell.
McConnell's crew got right to work, airlifting stranded people from their rooftops and out of windows, and delivering them to the Superdome helipad.
To their chagrin, however, they were only able to help a relatively few amount of survivors.
While many people accepted their rescue, he said dozens more refused pickup.
They said, “We don’t need to be rescued. We’re fine. Just bring us back food and water.”
And the helicopter rescue team obviously couldn’t rescue people who didn’t want to be rescued.
And sadly, some of those same people ultimately perished.
And I think many Americans treat God in the same way.
We don’t want to admit that we’re dead in our sins, and unable to rescue ourselves.
We don’t want to fully surrender our lives to God.
We just want God to swoop in here or there, and bring some “food & water improvements” to our lives during tough times
But who will save us from the weight of our sin?
Who will raise you from the dead?
I know this is in your heart somewhere.
We tell ourselves when we go to bed at night that we’re good because we’re not like those conservatives, or those liberals, or those alcoholics…
But yet we can’t sleep because deep inside we’re burdened with our own mistakes, many of which people don’t even see.
But God sees them.
AND HE LOVES YOU ANYWAY!
He wants to rescue you!
Bring you to life!
To save you!
But He can’t unless you take off your hero cape and surrender to the real rescuer.
And I know that there are some of you in here that are going, “Yeah, well, I am basically dead…I get it…I’ve made a mess of my life”
While everyone else is saying, “At least I’m the person who did this or that..
You’re going, “I AM that person…
“I AM the addict, or the abuser, or the ex-con, or the adulterer
And you’ve been thinking,
“There’s no way God could save me”
“No one could turn this life around.
“NO one is going to love me”
Remember what the Bible said about God today??
He is rich in mercy and forgiveness.
Meaning, you can not outsin the forgiveness of God.
There’s nothing you could have done, that He isn’t willing to forgive.
Think about this: Jesus knows the future.
When he went to the cross on Easter weekend, to die in your place…he already knew what you would do.
And He went anyway.
He’s loves you!
He looked over your dead body…covered with sin…
And said, “That’s the one I want to raise to life!”
I love them.
We often explain Christianity this way here:
You are more sinful than you ever dared believe, but you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.
And it’s when you embrace that truth, when you give up, and surrender to God, you can finally be made alive
And I beg of you…let Him save you.
Don’t wager all of your eternity on a hunch that “you’re going to be okay”
Let Him raise you.
You can open the gift of salvation…right now.
Jesus can make you come alive.
(Who will raise you from the dead slide)
And so today, I want to give you an opportunity to do just that.
Let’s just have everybody bow their heads and close their eyes…for just a minute.
If you want to make that decision to believe that Jesus died for you, and let Him into your life…to be forgiven … in a minute…I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are.
It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “God, I believe only you can save me, and I want to surrender my life to you”
This is how you can be forgiven, go to heaven, and have a relationship with God…it’s by making this decision.
NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!). This is about you and God.
But I will tell you, you’re NOT making a decision, to just accept forgiveness and then go on with your life as normal.
This is an act of surrender.
It’s to say, “If you’ve seen ALL of me, and you LOVE me that much…then I will follow you with my life”
So wherever you are, if I’m talking to you and you’ve never done this before.. and you’d like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him for the first time, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are. (you can stay standing for a minute as others join you)
If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s talking to you. That means…it’s TIME.
If God himself is prompting you to do something right now, don’t disobey that.
Stand up. God is talking to you!
If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?
This is not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
As everyone else still has their eyes closed, I want to talk to those of you who are standing for just a moment
I need you to do one more thing for me.
It will only take a few small minutes, but I believe these are a few of the most important minutes of your life.
You’ve just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…
So here’s what we’re going to do…In just a second, one of our leaders is going to pray, but right before they do that, I need you to quietly sneak out of your row, and head towards the hallway where it will be quiet.
I’m going to go out there with you…and I want to give you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.
If you didn’t stand up, but you know you made this decision too…just come out with us.
All right, one of our leaders is going to pray
But for now, would you please had out there with me.
Go ahead. We can all go together.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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