The Big Picture ~ 20141025 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
10/25/2014 The Big Picture; Gabriel Williams Memorial; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20141025_gospel-message_gabe-memorial.mp3
Very Good Creation
When God spoke everything that is into existence, the universe, stars, planets, our atmosphere, mountains, oceans, plants, and every living creature, he 'saw that it was good.' When he made humanity, male and female, in his own image, when God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life, he saw that 'it was very good.' God blessed them. He provided for all their needs. He gave them authority over the rest of his creation. He invited them to be fruitful. And he was with them. He asked them to demonstrate their love for him in obedience to his rule. God's creation was very good. There was no pain, no disease, no sickness, no heartache, no loss, no decay.
Very Bad Fall
We were not meant to die. God said in the day that you disobey me you will surely die. Death is the consequence of our rebellion against a good God who loves us and provided everything good for us to enjoy. Death is an unnatural, ugly, awful, painful, gruesome, horrific, cruel, evil reality that we brought into God's good creation. Romans 5:12 tells us that:
Romans 8 tells us that all creation was subjected to futility, is groaning, and longs to be free from this bondage to decay. What we experience today is not creation as God meant it to be. We live in a world filled with violence and disease and death, and we are responsible, because we wrecked it. This world is broken, and we broke it. We did not listen to the truth of God, instead we believed the lies of Satan, we wanted to become like God, so we rebelled against God's good rule. Through the selfishness of wanting more, we lost what we had been given.
Snorting Mad at Death
1 Corinthians 15 calls death an enemy, the last enemy. It is not a friend to be welcomed, it is an enemy to be destroyed. It is right to be angry at death. It is right to feel robbed and cheated when a loved one dies. Jesus, at the funeral of his dear friend Lazarus, wept. He sobbed. He wailed aloud. He experienced grief. John 11:33 says
When it says he was 'greatly troubled' the word paints the picture of water roiling or boiling. It means to be stirred up or agitated. When the text says that Jesus was 'deeply moved' the word is ἐμβριμάομαι which means to have indignation, to blame, to sternly charge or threaten. It paints the picture of a horse snorting with anger. We could translate John 11:38 like this:
Jesus squared off with death. The Author of life stared death in the face, nostrils flared in anger, and demanded that it release its hold on his friend. Jesus was angry at the broken state of his world and he was ready to conquer once and for all this old foe. Soon Jesus would find himself on the other side of a tombstone, and he would conquer death by dying.
Romans 6 tells us that the wages of sin is death. When we work, we earn wages. Our rebellion against God earns us death. Sooner or later all of us will receive what we have earned. Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, the only one who preexisted, Jesus who is eternal God, equal to the Father and one with his Father, came down from the Father to be the 'Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world' (John 1:29). 1 Peter 2:24 tells us:
Jesus, eternal God who became man, took our sin on himself. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us:
The Father made Jesus, the sinless one, become sin in our place. God has made a way for us, sinners who deserve the condemnation of death, to be rescued through Jesus who stood in our place and paid our price. Colossians 2:13 says:
Jesus, on the cross, paid the price in full for every sin, satisfying the legal demands against us, and credits us with his perfect record of righteousness. Romans 4:4-5 tells us:
We are ungodly. Jesus is the one who justifies, or declares not guilty, sinners who depend on him. God counts us righteous, not because of what we have earned, but as a free gift, in spite of what we deserve.
Jesus says in John 3:
Whoever believes has as a present possession eternal life. Believing is trusting in, depending on, relying on, clinging to as your only hope. Whoever clings to Jesus has eternal life. Jesus defines eternal life this way:
Eternal life is not merely duration, but is defined in terms of relationship. Eternal life is being in relationship with the eternal triune God. Eternal life is being reconciled, restored to a right relationship with the all-powerful Creator and Judge of all things. Eternal life is real, authentic, genuine life, really living as we were meant to live, with purpose, with meaning, worshiping and serving and enjoying the most incomprehensibly amazing being that exists.
Jesus also said:
There are many, Jesus says, who will call him 'Lord', and claim to have done many mighty works in his name. But what we do for Jesus earns us nothing. Only if we cling to Jesus, depend on Jesus, does he give us eternal life, a relationship with him. To those who do things for God but never humbly receive from God his free gift of eternal life, he will say 'I never knew you; depart from me.' The opposite of eternal life, knowing God, is eternal separation from the God who is love.
For those who know God, those who love God, those who are reconciled to God through Jesus, he will make every sad thing come untrue. The only way to be with those you love for eternity is through Jesus.
Jesus said to his followers:
Jesus said at his own dear friend's funeral:
Gabe said in his testimony that he had an emptiness in his heart, a hole that he longed to have filled. That emptiness was filled to overflowing in his relationship with Jesus. He wanted nothing more than for all his friends and family to find that same fulfillment in Jesus that he found. I invite you today to find that same satisfaction, that same meaning and purpose and wholeness that Gabe found through a relationship with Jesus. I invite you to surrender your life to Jesus right now. Bring your sins to Jesus, believe in Jesus, cling to Jesus, depend on Jesus as your only hope.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org