2000 Easter Sermon - I Am Not Out Of My Mind But Speak True And Rational Words
I have three points that I would like to make this morning as we consider the resurrection of Christ.
First, we need the Holy Spirit to bring the word with full conviction and power to our hearts.
Secondly, we should continually declare this truth as we gather together with believers.
Thirdly, we can declare the truths of scripture without hesitation to an unbelieving and often hostile world.
We need the Holy Spirit to bring this word with full conviction and power to our hearts.
Six months ago we began studying the book of Esther. When I I sat down and filled out the preaching schedule for Esther it took us all the way up to last week. When I saw that we would finish Esther the week before Resurrection Sunday I thought to myself, “This is perfect, we will finish Esther right in time for preaching about the resurrection of Christ on this special day of celebration.” On paper, this seemed like the perfect preaching schedule. In my mind it could not have worked out any better.
And yet, since finishing Esther last week I must admit that I feel as though this is not the most perfect preaching schedule. As I looked at all of the gospel accounts concerning the resurrection of Jesus I found myself wishing that I had more time to preach on these things. There is so many things to consider and this one day hardly seems adequate to cover the importance of what we are celebrating.
The disciples seemed to have needed a lot of time to process the reality of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Early in Jesus’ ministry He began to teach His disciples about these things but they could not understand these things. For example,
In Luke 9:22 Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
In Luke 9:44-45 we read these words, “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.’ But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask Him about it.”
In Luke 17:25 Jesus said, “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”
In Luke 18:31-34 Jesus says, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For He will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise.” Then we read, “But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”
As we gather this morning to remember the resurrection of Christ I would like to begin by expressing what a privilege it is for us to celebrate the reality of Christ’s resurrection. This is a special day in the life of a church but in reality we don’t just remember Christ’s resurrection once a year. No, we come and worship each week on the Lord’s Day in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection. We also celebrate the reality of Christ’s resurrection every time we celebrate communion and do a baptism together. We often are to remember that there will be a day when Christ will return and resurrect our bodies to eternal life.
And yet, as often as we remember these things we must admit that we have need of the Holy Spirit to be working in our hearts to make this a reality to us. We could spend countless Sunday’s observing these truths in the Scriptures and speaking about the reality of these things but without the Holy Spirit doing His powerful and work in our hearts we would remain blind to the truth of these things. Our hearts would remain doubtful, foolish, and slow of heart to believe all that the Scriptures have said. These are descriptions given to Jesus’ disciples who did not initially believe in His resurrection (Luke 24:25)
I have been reading Confessions of Faith lately and most of them speak of this work of the Holy Spirit in these things. For example, one says, “We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life.” (New Hampshire Confession Article 7)
Throughout the gospel’s we see that the LORD had to open the minds of His disciples so that they could understand these teachings in scriptures. (Luke 24:27-32,45) Apart from this illuminating work the testimony about the resurrection of Jesus would ‘seem to us like an idle tale and we would not believe it’ (Luke 24:11).
At the end of our time in the book of Esther we challenged ourselves to prepare our hearts to celebrate the resurrection of Christ by spending time in prayer and seeking after God. Similarly, let us begin this morning by taking a moment to pray that the Holy Spirit would help us to receive the truth of Christ’s resurrection as we consider the Scriptures today. Let us pray that our acceptance of these things would ground our hearts in an unshakable hope that the grave has been defeated and the sting of death has been removed.
Prayer: Father, we know that our salvation is the result of the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who work distinctly and harmoniously in the great work of our redemption. It is our prayer this morning that the Father’s redemptive plan would be received by us as we consider that you so loved the world that you sent your one and only Son to die for us while we were still trespassers and rebels against You. Though we rejected your Son, You were pleased with Him and vindicated Him by raising Jesus from the dead and seating Him at your right hand.
Jesus, honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of sinful men and women who had disobeyed God’s Law. Jesus was raised from the dead by God’s mighty power with a glorified body and was seen by His disciples over the span of 40 days before His ascension into heaven. Through the testimony of the infallible Word of God, and the effectual work of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts, help us to receive these historical facts concerning Christ.
Lord, it is our prayer that the Holy Spirit would illuminate each of us to understand the truth concerning Jesus and His resurrection that we might have an enduring hope even in the face of our weak dispositions, our many trials and infirmities, and in the face of our own mortality and death. Because Christ lives, we too will live in newness of life both now and forevermore. He was the firstborn from among the dead. If we claim that there is no resurrection then we make God a liar and we have no hope. Therefore, Holy Spirit bring the truth of Your Word with full conviction and power so that we will declare these truths with boldness before our brothers and sisters in Christ and also before the unbelieving revilers in this world. Amen
We should continually declare the truths of Scripture to one another as we gather with boldness.
First notice that I said, “We should...declare the truths of Scripture to one another.” I purposefully kept the context of the truths of scripture broad. There are many things that the Scriptures teach that will be foolishness to the world, but we believe them because of the Word of God and the work of the Spirit to bring conviction. If we cannot be bold in our confession of these truths here among other professing believers we will not be bold in our declaration of these things in the world.
In Luke 24:1-12 the women went to the tomb to put spices on the body of Jesus. When they arrived the stone was rolled away and an angel said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise?” (5b-7)
We are told that they women remembered these words and they returned to the eleven apostles and the rest of the disciples and testified to these things. Sadly, but understandably at this point, we are told that these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. (24:11)
The women returned and told them about seeing angels, but the disciples thought it was an idle tale.
The women told them about recalling what Jesus had said, but the disciples though it was an idle tale.
The women told them about the stone that was moved and the grave that was empty, but the disciples thought this was an idle tale.
Consider Luke 24:9-11 more closely. It says, “...and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”
Observation #1: “they told all these things”
The verb is in the indicative mood which speaks of facts. These women tell the others about the facts that they had experienced. They do not tell them about their feelings. They concentrated on the factual details and not their emotions.
Also notice that they shared all the facts. They added nothing to the facts and they left nothing out concerning the facts that they had.
They did not say to themselves, “I know this fact seems to crazy to believe so we will just leave that one out.”
They did not say to themselves, “Let’s carefully word it this way so it is more palatable.”
Observation #2: “...told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest”
Notice that they told everyone. They spoke to the eleven apostles and to all the rest. They spoke to men and women, to the young and old, to the common folk and to the apostles.
Observation #3: All the women testified of these things. “Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles…”
There is no testimony to be believed if less than two or three witnesses. Here the disciples reject the testimony of all of these three women.
These women “... told these things”
This is an indicative tense which again means that they are speaking of the facts
This is in the imperfect tense which means that they continued to speak about these things. They did not change their story or stop repeating it. They continued speaking over and over again to each other and to all who would listen. Each time with conviction and boldness. They never stopped sharing this message even if the apostles had said that these things were just idle tales and they did not believe them.
Don’t you wish that the church would be full of men and women who were as bold at their testimony of the truths of scripture as these women are here? Too many today compromise the testimony of scripture to appeal to an unbelieving world. Too many today back down when the unbelievers, in the church and outside the church, scoff and ridicule the truths of scripture.
As we continue to read the resurrection story in Luke 24 we see that this testimony about Christ’s resurrection continues to spread because others have encounters with Jesus Christ. After these women give their testimony Peter gets up and runs to the tomb and two other people get up and start traveling to the town of Emmaus. As they do these things they all have encounters with the risen LORD and return once again to the disciples to testify concerning these things. We see this in Luke 24:33-35, “And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
Notice that not everyone in this group has seen Christ but they are all beginning to believe as these things happen. The women should have been believed as they all gave their testimony. Each of these women provided a clear testimony concerning the resurrection of Christ, but the disciples were slow of heart to believe.
But now as there are more witnesses of these things the evidence is mounting. In verse 35 we read, “Then they told what had happened on the road…”. The verb ‘told’ is in the imperfect tense which means that they testified continually to the truth of what they had seen and heard (32). These men would never stop giving this testimony and they would never change their story. This was one of the distinctive truths that would transform them for the rest of their lives and give them a certain hope even upon the day of their death.
Application: As fewer and fewer churches and believers fail to preach the truths in scriptures the witness of these things to the world becomes easier for them to dismiss. The testimony of one congregation may be dismissed, but the testimony of many faithful churches becomes harder to dismiss as an idle tale and disbelieve. The churches of Converge, and the churches in every denomination, needs to defend truth and speak it boldly and with conviction. This lost world is depending upon us to be people of the Scriptures who speak only what it speaks.
We can declare the truths of scripture without hesitation to an unbelieving and hostile world.
We have looked at the fact that we need the Holy Spirit to bring this truth with conviction to our hearts. We have also seen that we should declare the truths of Scripture with boldness and confidence before the church. But now we should ask, “Can we declare the truths of scripture without hesitation to an unbelieving and often hostile world?” It is easier to preach before believers than it is to preach these same things to those who reject these things.
Several years ago I was asked to do a special service for someone. Before it began I noticed that there were several unbelieving college professors there. In that moment I realized I lacked the boldness to declare biblical truth with confidence. I was ashamed of myself and I realized in that moment that I needed the Holy Spirit to help me to be faithful.
Today many of the doctrines and clear teachings of scripture are under attack: gender, marriage, purity, creation, the miracles in scripture, the resurrection, the inspiration and authority of scripture, etc. A believer who does not have a high view of scripture and rely upon the Holy Spirit will soon be silent before unbelievers or begin to twist the clear meaning of them. So let me end this morning by encouraging us that we can be bold and confident about what we preach and believe.
In Acts 26the Jews want Paul to be killed but he makes his defense before King Agrippa. We are told that the king and queen come in with great pomp. They entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and prominent men of the city (23). Paul is given permission to speak on his behalf so he begins to give his testimony. In front of this unbelieving crowd Paul speaks with conviction and boldness. At one point Paul says in verse 8, “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?”
A bit later Paul says, “To this day I have had the help that comes from God, so I stand here testifying to both the small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light (salvation) both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
It was at this point that Festus said with a loud voice, “You are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” (24)
Now listen to what Paul says in verse 25, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.”
Paul’s words, “I am not out of my mind...but I am speaking true and rational words”, are contrary to what we are told in our society. We are told that to believe the scriptures is to believe in fables, myths, and made up stories. It is to believe in old superstitions that have long since been rebuffed by science. Will we believe the world’s view and stop believing and speaking of these truths? Or will we believe and continue to speak true and rational words?
The world says that we are foolish to believe and speak of these things, but consider what Jesus said to his disciples who did not believe, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
Jesus considers unbelief and being slow of heart to believe historical facts and scriptural truths as a foolish thing. To believe the scriptures like Paul is to believe what is true and rational. Let me reference the New Hampshire confession regarding the scriptures, “We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter…”
We have come to celebrate that God sent His only Son into the world to take our place. He honored the Father in every way in life and in death. He suffered, died and was buried. Then the Father raised Him from the dead so that we might have eternal life in Him. Because of the testimony of the Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments and because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit we can be sure of these things. We can say with Paul, “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” We can declare these things in the church and out of the church and say, “I am not out of my mind...but I am speaking true and rational words.”
I see three responses to today’s sermon. First, is there anyone here who needs to stop being slow in heart to believe? Is there someone here who needs to repent of their sins and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ? Even the worst of sinners can be saved if they come to Christ.
Secondly, those of us who desire to believe all that the scriptures have said should feel most comfortable speaking of these wonderful truths here among other believers. We believe in One God who is three persons. We believe in the Word of God. We believe that in six days God created all things. We believe that God created us male and female in His image. We believe that God sovereignly and providentially cares for His creation. We believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man. We believe that He died and rose again and will one day return in power to fully establish His kingdom. We believe that the scriptures are clear and call us to holiness.
Thirdly, not only can we be confident of these things with other believers but we can speak boldly of these things to unbelievers as we call them to obey the truth and find salvation. Our boldness to proclaim these truths to the unbelievers is a gracious thing that the Holy Spirit will use to draw others to Christ.