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Alive!

Scott Rollo

"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins."
1 Corinthians 15:17

At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Jesus. And at Easter we celebrate the reason for His birth: His atoning sacrificial death on the cross, and His triumphant resurrection from the dead. In rising from the dead, he defeated sin, death and hell. As the scripture says, if He hadn't been raised then we would have no salvation, no redemption, no forgiveness of sins.


And because He is alive today, we worship Him as Lord.


Do you know Jesus?
Do you believe in Him?
Is He your saviour?

"Alive! Alive! Look what Mercy’s overcome; Death has lost and Love has won Alive! Alive!
Hallelujah, Risen Lord, the only One I fall before I am His because He is alive."

At the Cross

James Grayston

'Dissolve my heart in thankfulness, and melt mine eyes to tears.’

Alas! and did my Saviour bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I?

Was it for crimes that I have done,
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died
for his own creature's sin.

Thus, might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.

But drops of tears can ne'er repay
the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
'tis all that I can do.

Are you thankful? Do you really appreciate what Jesus did for you?

As we approach Easter weekend, I am ever so thankful for the cross. The cross represents God’s love in sacrificing His Own Son and also, Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

If you are reading this and you don’t have Christ in your heart then I strongly urge you to consider what Easter is all about and what Jesus did for you. If you do, then celebrate Easter by telling everyone of God’s love for them and be ever so thankful that you are saved from sin and death.

In the words of the hymn above, 'dissolve my heart in thankfulness, and melt mine eyes to tears.’

I don't believe it

James Grayston

There was a lot of press comment to the recent survey conducted by the BBC about Easter and in particular the question whether you believed in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The stat which caused most concern or potentially delight amongst those commenting was that seemingly 25% of Christians did not believe the Biblical account of the resurrection.

I am not alone in people being cynical about surveys but I am a bit surprised by the stat. I'm surprised it's not a lot higher to be honest. We live in a country where people will describe themselves as Christians but if you have a conversation with them - they will know nothing about the person they say they follow and even more concerning - they don't actually know him. Their christianity is about family tradition, church association or the fact that they were christened as a child.

Just a short time after The Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead Paul was preaching in Athens and he spoke about the resurrection. Look at the response from those listening.

Acts 17:32-34

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed.

Almost two thousand years on. People are no different.

I think I would be on safe ground in saying there is probably no event in history from this time around Jesus death, burial and resurrection where there is so much 1st person testimony. If the resurrection had gone to court to prove its validity it would have been accepted with so many witnesses. Some of whom by the way, are from 3rd party writings outside of the Bible. Please note, I'm not saying they are more credible in terms of accepting what happened. My faith and trust are based on what the bible says and my own personal knowledge of my Saviour and Lord.

Back to those who would describe themselves as "Christians". The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a life-changing event. It validates all that Jesus said and did. It means all He said was true. In fact, He would describe himself as Truth. This being the case those who are Christians will be living lives that reflect they are followers of Him. You cannot be a Christian and say you don't believe in the resurrection. I am a Christian today because He was the first to be raised from the dead.

As I said earlier. People saying they did not believe in the resurrection are not new. Look at what Paul writes to the church in Corinth about this very subject.

1 Corinthians 15:12-22

The Resurrection of the Dead

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

It is a matter of faith. Faith based on what God has said and the evidence that exists around what took place in Jerusalem.

Don't accept the view from a 3rd party or someone with an agenda. Look into the resurrection of Jesus for yourself.  Make up your own mind.

I leave you with a song about the resurrection. It depicts Peter's experience when he first discovered Jesus was alive. Peter was never the same again. Later on in the bible it says about him and his 11 other colleagues that they turned the world upside down because of the message they preached.

Incidentally this is another proof of the resurrection. We celebrate Easter this weekend. Celebrating a commoner who lived a life of poverty until He Died......and then arose!

Resurrection

James Grayston

It’s a word that you don’t hear very often in everyday conversation.

In fact, the concept of resurrection is something that has really just been confined to the realm of fantasy. The very idea of someone who is dead (really dead – not just passed out or comatose) being raised to life again is so absurd that it is really only reserved for the most outlandish of stories. Resurrection has become little more to the average person than a plot device that is only really taken up and used in the most unbelievable of fictional universes; universes where the dead rise again with a hunger for human flesh or where strange powers are at work and are causing those who died long ago to be reunited with their families. It is a concept so incredibly beyond the scope of believability that even Hollywood steers clear of it as far as they possibly can.

And yet, over the next week, millions of people all over the world will be gathering to specifically remember and celebrate the brutal murder and reported resurrection of a young carpenter from Galilee. Millions of people will come together to remember this young man who was called Jesus – Yeshua in his mother tongue – whom they believe to be the Son of God who died and rose from the grave 3 days later.

Isn’t it absurd?

As a Christian, the only reason I can rejoice in the death of Jesus is because I believe in that obscure and absurd concept – resurrection. When a Christian looks at the cross we are faced with a very strange situation: we are reminded of one who died but who is not dead. My remembrance of the suffering of Christ on the cross is a remembrance not only of the substitutionary work of Jesus and how he bore the penalty for my sin, but also of that Sunday morning where the tomb that he had been laid was found empty.

The Apostle Paul said this to the Corinthians:

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:17

Resurrection may indeed seem to be a very odd and very peculiar thing – that’s because it is. It is by the supernatural raising of Christ from the dead that we can be sure that we can place our hope and trust in Him.

When Jesus uttered His dying words “It is Finished”, he was not talking about His life but rather His earthly mission – the salvation of sinners and reconciling them to God. If Jesus had remained dead in the grave, we would only have those three words to hope in, hoping that Jesus was who He claimed to be and that His sacrifice had been acceptable to God. If we had only those three words to go on, there would be a lot of room or doubt.

But because Jesus rose again on the third day and appeared to many of His followers, we can have absolute hope that His sacrifice was accepted by a Holy God and that Jesus did complete His work of salvation and reconciliation. The bible tells us that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.”

Resurrection is absolutely a strange and an absurd concept. But it is also the foundation of the greatest reality – that Jesus Christ is the Son Of God with power to take away sin.

Why did he have to die?

James Grayston

This is the first of our Easter blogs this week where we’ll be thinking about the death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

I was listening to radio 2 this morning who always have a religious thought for the day around 09:20.  This morning a priest was explaining that at Easter time Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus.  I am glad that on the BBC people are still free to speak about their faith and discuss these things in public.  At this time of year you will see and hear many other programs discussing the events of Jesus death and resurrection; I’m sure this year will be no exception.  But something bothered me.  The same thing bothered me years ago at school assemblies years ago when we heard the story of Jesus every year.  What bothers me is that in these discussions we hear about the death and resurrection of Jesus but we rarely hear about the reason behind the events two thousand years ago.  We rarely, if ever in the media, hear the answer to the question; why did Jesus have to die?

We sometimes hear many alternate theories.  This morning on radio 2 the man spoke about Jesus suffering before could come into his Kingdom.  He equated this with more recent political figures who have suffered hardship before coming into power.  Others have said before how the Jesus died as an example to show us how we should forgive our enemies, this is the kind of reason I was taught at school.  But where there is some truth in these ideas-Jesus certainly is an example to us and Jesus did talk about how he must suffer before he comes into his Kingdom-neither of these are the primary purpose that lead Jesus to the cross.  To answer the question, why did Jesus have to die, we have to look to the bible and listen to the words of Jesus himself.

 In Marks gospel, Jesus tells us exactly why he had to die:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10 vs 45

Just before this in chapter 10 the Lord Jesus predicted exactly how he was going to die.  In Luke’s gospel again the Lord Jesus tells us why he had to die:

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” Luke 19 vs 10

Jesus had to die in order to save us from our sins.  We had sinned against God; we have broken his law.  The bible is clear about this there are none of us who are good, we are all sinners and God is angry at the wrong things that we do.  In fact we deserve Gods wrath and Gods punishment for all the wrong things we have done.  We deserve hell.  Jesus went to the cross as our substitute.  He was punished so that we can go free.  God punished Jesus for all the bad things I have ever done.  And if I place my trust in Jesus I receive mercy and forgiveness and all his goodness is imputed to me.  An exchange takes place.  This is the primary reason that Jesus died on the cross.  This is what Jesus meant by giving his life as a ransom for many.

It was prophesied around 700 years before Jesus was born by the prophet Isaiah:

 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53 vs 5

The apostle Paul writes about it afterwards in his letter to the church in Rome:

 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5 vs 8

This is the real reason that Jesus died at Easter time.  This Easter it is vital that all of us understand this.  Jesus died to take the punishment for my sins and if I believe in him I can be forgiven from my sin.  And since Jesus has risen from the dead, one day we can be with God in heaven.  I wonder this year have you came to realize the true purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus.