Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, March 25, 2016

Eternal Life - Has it Dawned on You?

Something Dawned on them that first Easter Sunday

In Matthew's gospel, he talks of Mary Magdalene going to the tomb early Sunday morning – there’s an earthquake, an angel, a proclamation: He is risen.
And something dawns on her.

The soldiers who experienced all the above as well,..... Matthew tells us they run and tell the chief priests, and they make a plan, they pay them to say “The disciples came and stole the body.”
They do this because something dawns on them, that morning.

And so we can run through all the Resurrection appearances: 
.....Peter runs into the empty tomb and something dawns on him
.....John doesn't barge into the tomb – he looks and something dawns on him
.....Two of Jesus’ followers are walking to Emmaus and a stranger joins them –  and something dawns on them

The process of the Resurrection Truth dawning on people seems to be one that takes differing amounts of time in different people.

The disciples are all together behind locked doors and Jesus appears....and something dawns on them.
Thomas isn't there, and it takes longer, but a week later something dawns on him as well.

This process of coming to terms with the Resurrection is just that, ........ a process.
Like the dawning of a new day........... there’s not a moment where you say it’s dawn and now it’s not, dawn is finished.

And so it was that things dawned on them and understanding began to filter into them, becoming brighter...clearer. 

If there is one verse in the whole Bible that speaks light on God’s eternal plan, it is surely John 3:16

For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.

When they first heard those words it was in the context of Nicodemus coming to Jesus in the dark of night and Jesus talking about being born again and in the midst of it all saying “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.

I don’t think they understood that verse when Jesus first said it, but on Resurrection Sunday, it would have begun to dawn on them – friends may it dawn on you in some new way this Easter.

Because Jesus was raised from the dead 2000 years ago, may you and I change in some way today. 

For God loved the world

This is an echo of the six days of creation. He saw each day’s work and it was good.
The sixth day’s work, which included the creation of you and me .... of humans .... was very good!

In John 3:16 comes the revelation that God loves the world and everyone in it – you and me. Let that dawn on you this morning. Bask in the light of that truth.

Not just His chosen nation, not just a few in His chosen nation – but the world.
He loves the English as much as… the Irish....
Americans as much as Iranians..................
Muslim’s as much as Christians as much as Buddhists................

Is there anyone God does not love?
He loves the world – if only that truth would dawn on all the people of the world it would change what we do to each other.
But oh, that it would just dawn on Christians and affect our born again behaviour.
And He not only loves us, but He loves us so much.

For God loved the world so much

How much is so much – I saw a Easter Egg that cost €25 000 … it was chocolate studded with diamonds and the person said – this shows you love...implying, I think that this shows you love a lot.

God loved the world so much ..... “That He gave His only Son”.
For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son

That was Friday’s message, but it is in fact the message every season in every age. 
You cannot really put a value to that and of course it eventually dawned on the early followers that Jesus the Son of God in living flesh was and had been and is forever… God the Son in eternity and then the idea of our God as Trinity began to dawn on them.

So God in fact gave Himself....and the giving of self is the greatest gift. You might have bought a diamond studded Easter Egg for someone you love, but be sensitive to the possibility that the person you love – a spouse, a child, a parent, might well be saying “I just want more of you”
Does that truth need to dawn on anyone or on any relationship this morning?

God so loved the world that He gave His Son........ So that everyone who believes in Him.

For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him

It would have dawned on the disciples that day, in fact it did dawn on them that this new religion required them to tell, to ‘tell on.’

Do you remember, ‘telling on’ – the fear that sometimes caused you, or the power it allowed you to exert. ‘I will tell on you.’

Christianity is a ‘telling on’ religion. Far more people are saved by being told about Jesus, than by reading about Jesus.
Almost everyone who discovers what’s happened on that first Easter Sunday is told to go and ‘tell on’...
Jesus was in the tomb but He’s not anymore, go and tell on Him.

Jesus was dead now He’s alive. Tell on. 
There’s a sense in which satan thought: we had told Jesus to go ‘to the corner and stay there – the corner called death. 
But .....He doesn't stay there............... Amen.
He’s left the corner ..................... Amen.
And He says ‘Tell on me – tell everyone on me – this is not a naughty secret, this is the best news there ever was.’

Tell on.

Jesus was sent to the corner, the corner of death, from which no one has ever emerged, but He didn't stay there – tell on.
Parents, grandparents, tell this good news..... to your children........ often.
It dawned on the early disciples that they had to tell the whole world that God loved so much – what Jesus had done – why – so that all who believe will not perish but have eternal life themselves.

For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.

And what is eternal life? … don’t answer, you might embarrass yourself! Jesus tells us what eternal life is in John 17:3

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Someone might say, “Eternal life is living forever.” But that’s not it. No one ceases to exist when they die. Everyone lives forever in either heaven or hell. “Well then, eternal life must be living forever in heaven instead of hell.” That’s not it either.
John 3:36 says,

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life

Eternal life is a present-tense possession. It’s not something that begins when we get to heaven. There are a number of scriptures that speak of everlasting life as something we possess in this life (John 4:14; 5:24; 6:27; 6:40, 47).
So, the question remains, “What is eternal life?” This is very important. John 3:16 says this is the reason that Jesus came.
For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.

Many people have mistakenly thought that the goal of salvation is the forgiveness of sin to avoid hell. That’s not what John 3:16 is saying. Sure, not perishing in hell is an important part of what Jesus came to do. He accomplished that by paying the debt for all our sins, past, present, and even the ones we haven’t committed yet.
If that’s all there is to salvation, that’s more than any of us deserve, and it would still be worth preaching. But salvation is much, much more than getting our sins forgiven so we can go to heaven instead of hell.

Let me say it this way. If all you did was ask Jesus to forgive your sins so you wouldn’t perish in hell, then you are missing out on eternal life.
Sin was a barrier that stood between us and a holy God. It had to be removed. That’s exactly what Jesus did, and He did it well. Sin is no longer standing between God and man (2 Cor. 5:17). But to what does that entitle us?
Sure, it entitles us to live forever with God in heaven. That’s wonderful. But there are tremendous benefits right here, right now, on earth. Eternal life is one of those benefits.

Remember Jesus’ words:
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Eternal life is knowing God. You may be disappointed with that definition. You think you know God and you still aren’t satisfied. You want there to be something more. The key lies in understanding what the Bible means by this word “know.”

This was speaking of much more than just intellectual knowledge. It can be seen in hundreds of Bible scriptures, like, “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain” (Gen. 4:1). Adam didn’t just know Eve intellectually. That won’t produce children. He had an intimate, personal experience with her. This was speaking of a knowing between a man and a woman in the most intimate way possible.

Likewise, when Jesus said eternal life was knowing God, He was speaking of having an intimate, close, personal relationship with God. 
Many people believe Jesus died to forgive their sins, but they still don’t have a close, personal, intimate relationship with their Father God. They think that is reserved for heaven. They are content to muddle through life singing songs about how, when we all get to heaven, what a day that will be.
That is not to take anything away from heaven, but we are supposed to have eternal life (close, intimate, personal relationship with God our Father and Jesus Christ His Son) right now.

Jesus said in John 3:16 that God loved the world so much, He gave His only begotten Son so those who believed on Him wouldn’t perish but have eternal life. If all you have done is believe on Jesus so you won’t go to hell, then you are missing out on the eternal life the Lord wants to have with you right now.

If there was no afterlife, if there was no heaven or hell, John 3:16 reveals that Jesus would still have come and died for our sins so we could once again have an intimate relationship with Him and His Father right now, in this present evil world.

This was one of the main differences between the first-century church and our modern Western church. Those people knew God intimately. They had a relationship with the Lord that wasn’t waiting to start in heaven, but was working in them while they were still in this world.

They didn’t have the advantages of radio, television, internet, or any other modern means of communication. They never even put a bumper sticker on a camel. Yet, these believers turned the known world upside down with the truths of the Gospel. They impacted their world much more than we are impacting our world today. Why?

They had such a depth of relationship with a Living God that it was contagious. They told on all the time. In Rome, Christians knew their God so intimately that they sang His praises as they were burned at the stake. There are historical accounts of Nero the emperor sticking his fingers in his ears and saying, “Why must these Christians sing?”

They had a present-tense relationship that allowed them to endure with joy terrible atrocities. I read recently that there are historical accounts of Romans, when witnessing the joy of these Christians who were being martyred, jumping out of the stands and rushing to them. They knew they would be doomed to the same fate, but they willingly accepted death so they could know God in the same close, intimate, and personal way as these Christians. The author then asks this question which struck me to the core: He says

Let me ask you this question. It’s not intended to condemn you, but to enlighten you. How many people would die to have what you have? Are people envious of your relationship with the Lord? If not, then may I suggest that you aren’t experiencing eternal life as the Bible describes it and as our Lord Jesus died to give us.

Friends, this isn’t something for the select few, the spiritual elite, whoever they may be. This is normal Christian living. In fact, if this isn’t our experience, we aren’t really living. This is what drove the Apostle Paul (Phil. 3:10-11) and all the early Christians. Paul writes:

I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

It’s still what drives victorious Christians today. It’s all about personal relationship with a Person.

Has it dawned on you that the life Jesus offers you is the life He had and lived on earth … abundant life, life in all its fullness, my cup runneth over life, Spirit filled life … eternal life.

Jesus resurrection from the dead shows that the sin that leads to death and death itself are conquered … there is now just life to live.

Jesus invitation to you this Easter is to start living this life from today; and you do that by believing in Him, not intellectually which you might already be doing, but relationally … starting a relationship with Him today. Jesus invitation this Easter is for us to continue in relationship with Him … relationships need constant commitment otherwise they die … yesterday’s commitment needs renewing and affirming each new day and all our tomorrows.

For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.

Do you have eternal life? If not, before you leave this place, breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon your name." Join with me in prayer right now, I beg you. Join with me while I put words into your mouth, and speak them on your behalf—"Lord, I am guilty. I deserve your rejection. Lord, I cannot save myself … I throw myself completely upon you and into you, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of Jesus; I trust your mercy, and your love, and your power, as they are revealed in Him. I take hold of this word of yours, that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Lord, save me now, for Jesus' sake. Amen."

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