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Date: Easter Day 2016

Series name: N/A

Sermon # in series: N/A

Sermon Title: The Good News!

Bible Reference: 1 Corinthians15:3-4

A disclaimer from Pastor Stuart

My role in the church here is to feed and care for God’s people the best I can. Key to that, in my opinion is teaching and preaching from the Bible; but that is not all a pastor has to do! In fact after the emails, staff admin, hospital visits, community visits, leadership meetings, etc, etc, there sometimes seems to be little time for sermon prep! Years ago I used to agonise over trying to come up with two, often three, totally original sermons each week. But I’ve found that, for me at least, that is impossibility. I’ve learned to be grateful for and to use the gifts God gives to help me – not only the Holy Spirit, but other Bible teachers and preachers.

Over the years I’ve discovered that if something teaches, inspires and excites me it’s likely to do the same for those I speak to. So I admit that sometimes I find myself depending heavily on other people’s ideas, at least to ‘prime the pump’ and therefore I claim originality for very little in these sermons. If you look hard enough and wide enough you’ll probably find who I’ve been reading and learning from! I never knowingly plagiarise, but if you find I have, then I apologise. It must have been that what was said was just too good not to use!

I am particularly indebted to the likes of John Piper, Sam Storms, Wayne Grudem, John Ortberg & Rick Warren. The Lord regularly uses them to get my spiritual pulse racing. I’m also indebted to many who kindly make their sermons available on the likes of and Others who help me include ‘The Doctor’ (Martyn Lloyd-Jones), C.H Spurgeon and any of the Puritans.

These sermons are not made available because I think they’re good but in the hope and with the prayer that they may be used by the Holy Spirit to bless others as they have blessed our own church here in Ipswich, UK.

Unless otherwise specified, all scriptures are taken from the HOLY BIBLE NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder and Stoughton Limited.

For what I receivedI passed on to youas of first importance: that Christ died for our sinsaccording to the Scriptures,that he was buried,that he was raisedon the third dayaccording to the Scriptures,and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.1 Cor 15:3-4

He starts off ‘I want to remind you of the gospel’, (‘I want to remind you of the good news’)and then goes on to list these things. These are what make up the good news of the Xian faith –

  • that Jesus died for (on account of) our sin,
  • that he was buried (in other words he really was dead)
  • that he was raisedto life again(the mention of appearing to people is the proof that he really did rise, this wasn’t a spiritual res, or made up, wishful thinking, Jesus really did come back to life.

This is the gospel – Jesus died for our sins. He took them on himself, and was punished as a substitute for us so that we might be forgiven, so that God could look on us and accept us, that he could be our friend again. There is a way back to God now, for him to accept us. This is great news!

But there’s more!The more is that not just did he die but that hecame back to life again. Death, the ultimate enemy was beaten; Satan's ultimate weapon was overpowered, it’s sting and poison drawn. He’s pretty much been disarmed, so that even though in this life we live in weak and frail bodies that will die, we have the total assurance and confidence that when Jesus comes again we too will get new, indestructible, incorruptible bodies in which we will live with Jesus in the new heavens and earth forever. This is what the ‘firstfruits’ reference in v23 is all about. Jesus is the first and everyone who believes in him will experience the same. What happened to himwill happen to us as well.

Because of Jesus death and resurrection for us we will share in the new heavens and earth when he returns one day.

How wonderful this will be – this is fantastic news! The Bible tells us that when Jesus comes back he’s going to restore things to how they were originally. Pain and illness and violence were not part of the original creation and they will have no part in the restored one either. There will be no more terror, no more carnage, no more senseless murders, no more hatred, no more fear, no more tears, no more sadness, no more illness, no more pain, no more anguish and no more death.

These things are all sadly, tragically part of this life, part of this worlds existence now. It wasn’t meant to be this way – it’s not what God made it to be. These things all come because of our sin – directly or indirectly. But when Jesus comes as king and established his unrivalled rule these things will be gone. His will is for wholeness, well being – mental, emotional and physical, and we who love and trust him now will have that when he comes again.

Isn’t that good news for those of you who struggle with a lack of health now (whatever sort of health that is). Encourage yourself with this – though you endure for life, eternity will be so much better! It will not always be this way.

I want to shout Hallelujah! I think that is wonderful news. I hope you do and I hope and pray that you believe and trust in Jesus personally so that you will actually be part of it. If not then this Easter weekend, turn to him and trust him to deal with your sins, turn to follow him …. Etc.

Butthat’s all in the future is there nothing for now? Do we just have to grin and bear it until we get to heaven?

No not a bit! Not only does the death and resurrection of Jesus secure us the certainty of heaven but God most certainly wants it to have an impact on our lives now as well. We do NOT have to wait until heaven before we start to enjoy the physical, mental and emotional benefit from our salvation.

It is true that whilst we live on earth in these bodies we will be subject to illness, etc – this isn’t heaven and we cannot expect it to be like it! However … he has started something in you his child now that he will complete in heaven, and you get to benefit from Jesus work on the cross and his resurrection here and now.

How so?

  • Well firstly sometimes he’ll reach out by his spirit and bring physical healing to your body. Jesus did whilst here on earth and it’s happened ever since and in James 5 God instructs us very clearly ‘Is any of you sick? He should call the elders to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well’. Here it is in black and white – we can expect that there will be times when God will bring healing to the sick when we ask him. In a few minutes therefore we’re going to do just that and I’m going to give you the opportunity to ask Ray and I to pray for you for healing.
  • But not withstanding this, there are other parts of the Bible where it’s obvious that physical healing isn’t what God thinks is best – and we have to accept these two things and hold them in tension.

But that doesn’t mean he just leaves us to make the most of a bad job – that isn’t his wish at all. Ap Paul had what he called ‘a thorn in the flesh’ (2 Cor 12) which he pleaded with the Lord about several times – but the Lord said ‘No, I’m not taking it away. Instead I’ll give you strength to cope and I’ll work through your weakness’. And Paul learnt to rejoice and be content with that, and found that he didn’t have to have all his ducks lined up in a row to be able to have joy and peace in the Lord. God was able to give him those things even in weakness, even in sickness, even in poverty, even in injustice.

Here’s the thing - Sometimes God doesn’t choose to heal, but he always wants his people to know his joy and peace. Phil 4:7 – Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer make your requests known to God. And the peace of God …’Jn 7:38 – ‘come to me a drink and streams of living water will flow out from you’. He doesn’t want us to live as cripples, limping along, negative, critical, grumbling, stunted.

God didn’t heal Paul, didn’t change his circumstances, but neither did he simply leave Pleave aul struggling and impotent. He did help Paul, something did change; Paul may have been physically weak but spiritually he was triumphing. And this is what he wants for us also – not simply to believe, to survive, clinging on until we reach heaven. He wants us to flourish and thrive – to be and enjoy the very best we can have down here on earth until he calls us home or until he comes again.

This is what he wants for you. When he saved you he saved you for better things than you had before. He saved you to change you – not just so that things would carry on as before, except with you going to church a few times! He made you a new creation, gave you a new heart and gave you the H/S in order that through him and with him things would change for you.

This is God’s will for us. His will is not that we live as victims but as victors. You may have been hurt, lied to, abused, ill treated; you may struggle with some physical weakness – but you are God’s child now, you have the H/S living within you and he is the one that raised Jesus from the dead and he can do amazing things in you and through you and for you. Those amazing things may be something as simple as not giving in to negative thoughts, no giving into being critical, not giving into hatred or anger or self pity or envy or jealousy or abusing yourself or others. Romans 8:37 – ‘More than conquerors’. (Look at the context of that – trouble, (tribulation – painful anguish, affliction), hardship, (straightened circumstances, can’t turn round, hemmed in), danger, persecution.

  • This is the victory Jesus resurrection brought. Through him we can be friends with God, be filled with the Holy Spirit and enter life to the full.

Are you hobbling and struggling with a lack of Joy and peace and want to enjoy and experience more of the life Jesus died and was raised to give you? Then come to him afresh this morning and share that with him. This may be the healing you need – I want to pray for you.

But I want to say one other critically important thing – Greg F brought this last week as a word from the Lord and I think therefore it’s critical that we heed it. In James it says not only about calling for prayer, it also speaks of the importance of confession of sin. The effect is that we cannot expect healing and health (Physically, emotionally or spiritually) if we harbour known sin, if we will not own it and name it. If we continue to do what we know is not right, not helpful then we cannot expect God to do his bit regardless.

So as we come to him in prayer I want us each to examine our hearts. Is there something we need to confess to God or someone else? No good asking for physical healing if we continue to do something which causes the problem! Health issues? Check your Food and diet – are you eating/drinking too much/little or of the wrong thing?Anxiety? Are you planning? Taking on too much? Are you making wise decisions? What is governing your choices and decisions? Is the answer not a miracle or simply that you de-clutter, do less, simplify your life, learn to be content with less? Self pity? Are you angry at God or others? Bitter?

OK, let’s a take a minute to think about all this.