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Overcomers

Overcomers

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Overcomers

Rev 21:1-7

Happy Easter! He is risen. Jesus is risen from the grave and it means there is new life. That is always good news, and particularly so this year. 

It has been a hard year. Anybody with me? What have you had to walk through? Isolation. All alone.  Fear, anxiety, people saying things that are harmful. Everybody is mad. Maybe you have lost a friend. Feel excluded. Lost income. We relaunched in 2020. We will do it again this year. 🙂 Feel all out of hope,  Easter reminds that we have hope. Jesus is risen from the grave!

Big Idea:

Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus, 

Jesus was resurrected from the dead

And his resurrection means we can overcome death, too. 

We have been living on edge this last year, like one more bad break could bring a fall. I want to read a passage that talks about what Jesus achieves for us. It’s not about the resurrection, but it is about the end. This passage comes at the end of the Bible. It is about a new heaven and new earth. It is one of my most favoritest passages in the Bible. 

Text: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer. 2 I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. 5 Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to the thirsty from the spring of living water as a gift. 7 The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. (Revelation 21:1-7 CSB)

This passage is about a new creation. A new order of life. The old is gone and the new has come.  

  1. Created Order

When people are struggling with depression I often tell them to focus on the positives, get out and go for a walk and look at the trees and sky, enjoy them. Quiet waters and green grass. 

You see the flowers coming up and feel that there is something good in the world. The sun is out, the birds are chirping, flowers blooming and the order of the world feels so good and life giving. These things are good and point to something beyond themselves. I come home to my wife, put my hand on her side and get a kiss and everything seems right again. Maybe being at church with some other people for Easter makes it feel like things are normal and right. 

Beauty. Design. Easter. Goodness. Spring. New beginnings. Creation sprouting. Beauty of flowers. There is goodness in the world. There is purpose. 

  1. Fall. 

But things are not always right. And we have felt that this year. But what about when things are not right. Times everything seems wrong. Business isn’t going well. Come home and find the kids killed all the flowers with their toy bat. You come home and put your arm around your wife and she pushes you away to talk about how hard the day was. Pandemics. Arguments. Sickness. People die. Work is hard and frustrating. 

The philosopher Immanuel Kant made an argument for the existence of God based on the order we see in the world. When you look at the order in the universe, the gravitational constants, the elliptical orbit of the planets that bring steady season, the force of gravity that keeps us from flying off the earth but that also pull deftly enough to not crush life. 

Look at cells and the amazing way they function, with millions of atoms working together to relay information, to make energy, to remove waste, and then to rebuild when something is damaged. 

Kant said of the argument for the existence of God based on the order of the world.   

[“This proof will always be deserved to be treated with respect. It is the oldest, the clearest, and the most in conformity with human reasons… and it increases belief in a supreme Author to an irresistible conviction.” 

Kant saw irresistible merit to this argument, and yet he would ultimately resist the seemingly irresistible. Why? …. The disorder in the world. 

He saw death. He saw the plagues. He saw bad things happen to people. He saw the pandemics. People work hard and lose 80% of their income. People who are in the prime of life get cancer and though you have all the money you could ever want you are powerless to heal the person. You get pregnant and then lose the baby. How is your faith now? 

How is your faith after this past year? Pandemics. Hundreds of thousands dead. Divisive political figure. I’m tired. Worn out. I’m tired of fighting. Praying for peace and nothing comes. Where is God in the chaos? What hope does Easter bring??

Be honest. How much does the Easter faith impact your daily living? Are you here because you really believe this will help you or simply riding the wave of guilt that always brought you to church. You won’t find real answers until you are honest. 

The Bible teaches these hardships occur in life because there was a fall. People rejected God’s plan and hardship, death, sorrow came into the world. 

Kant’s dilemma introduces another proof for the existence of God. The need for a redeemer!

The world has order and purpose but that order and purpose is threatened. There is evil in the world and that evil seeks to destroy God’s good order. That means the world needs saving from evil. It needs redeeming from the good purpose God has for it. 

The inescapable next phase of the argument that if there is good, and the good is corrupted then there is a need to restore the good, and who else could do that but the creator of the good. We need a redeemer. It is to restore it so fully that it can never be broken and destroyed again. 

And this brings us directly to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He overcame the world. Stood on a bogus trial being falsely accused and never lied, stammered, or gave into a maddening fury. 

*would be easier to ignore the hard parts of the bible. Ignore the fact you are coming in tired, worn out, wondering where God is and how this could apply to your life. I don’t care about entertaining people, but I do care everything about rooting you into your Bible and what God is doing in the world. 

The passage we looked at occurs at the end of the book of revelation. I thought about sharing from Revelation 12. It speaks metaphorically of the birth of Christ and the ongoing battle that we are involved in. Mentions beasts trying to kill, the hurling of people to their graves, fire, and crying, and hardship, And that Jesus reigns through it all with an iron scepter. Evil will not prevail against them.

We live in a fallen world. Preceding cycles focused on the judgement coming from God’s throne, but this passage depicts the nature of the spiritual conflict. Two side of a cosmic spiritual war. We are in a time of battle. It was not intended to be easy.

This is where we are right now. We live in a world created to be good, but distorted by Evil, and God has sent a redeemer to restore things. 

This is why Jesus came. The world is under judgment.

  1. There is a redeemer. 

This is what we celebrate at Easter. Jesus rose from the grave. He overcame the curse and fall. He is creating a new order. 

One who can make all things right. We live in a fallen world where there is death, hardship, difficulty. By the sweat of your brow you will eat. Man, is that ever true! We experience heartache. But the good news is there is a redeemer. There is one who fixes everything. He is restoring us individually. He is also restoring the world. That passage we read:

  • The old order is passed. 
  • God is with his people. No more living by faith. We will see him. 
  • No more crying. No more band-aids.
  • No more death. No more pandemics. 
  • No more mourning. The things that have hurt you are made right. 
  • A new king. A new kingdom.

Like mom coming into the kitchen when everything is destroyed and putting everything back into order. I cook and all of the sudden kids are crying, dinner is burned, everything is dirty. Making sure each child who was neglected and hurt is taken care of. But it is on a cosmic scale. 

4. Restoration 

A day when everything is made right. All the hurts are mended. All the hardship removed. We have peace with God. New order of life. 

We hope in Jesus.

Don’t hope in political figures. Every candidate says they are going to make things right. Get into their term and it feels like the same thing but different. They don’t have the power to do this. Jesus does. And he promises to do it. 

But it means we have hope. No matter how bad it gets. Maybe we are through. Maybe it’s the beginning. But it ultimately doesn’t matter. We have hope. Death is not the end. God is with us now. And promises 

When things let us down in life. When it gets hard. We know our ultimate destination. We can have peace. 

Belief in this changes how we live. It changes how we suffer. It changes how we endure. We are steadfast. Not surprised by how hard it is. Not surprised people are doing dumb things. 

“I will put anxiety in the hearts of those of you who survive in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a wind-driven leaf will put them to flight, and they will flee as one flees from a sword, and fall though no one is pursuing them. (Lev 26:36 CSB)

This is the story of what God is doing in the world. 

A historian, Kyle Harper, who wrote on ancient pandemic, was interviewed and asked about how Christianity kept thriving and growing in the bleakness of ancient times. He said, 

For Christians it was a positive program. This life was always meant to be transitory, and just part of the larger story. What was important to the Christians was to orient one’s life toward the larger story, the cosmic story, the story of eternity. They did live in this world, experience pain, and loved others. But the Christians of that time were called to see the story of this life as just one of the stories in which they lived. The hidden map was this larger picture. 

We Follow Jesus. He is redeeming but we have to follow what he calls us to do. A friend was telling me that his kids will call him, ask him what they should do, he will tell them, and then if they ignore him he tells them, don’t come and complain to me. I told you what to do and you ignored it. God have given us his word to know how to live, to survive, to have hope, to find joy even in a pandemic, but you have to apply it. To ignore it is to ignore God. To reject the savior.  

What is worse than the evil that destroys the good is the evil that refuses to let the redeemer do his finishing work. It’s the solution to all that is wrong in the world and yet it is refused. Or perhaps even worse, it is believed but one never entrusts themselves into the hands of the redeemer to do his work. It’s like one has the solution to the Corona virus but is not willing to truly turn himself over. And this is not just the solution to viruses and sickness, but of death, destruction, mortality. Paid in full by the Son. But it requires one to submit their whole selves to the savior. 

Don’t go to other things for refuge and support: Sports. Marx said religion is the opiate of the people, I think of sports: football, basketball. It’s all great until your 5 seed team bows out of the first round of the NCAA tournament with a loss to a 12 seed. Life lets you down, then your opiate lets you down, depression sets in. Will only overcome by the blood of the lamb. Victory is certain in Jesus. 

My lymes. Difficult year. It’s going to be OK. Worst that can happen is I die. I have hope. Health. Sports. Work crises. Can’t eat gluten or sugar. 

In this time there is a coexisting of fall and redemption. Of hope and brokenness. 

But a day is coming in which Jesus will make all things new. He will redeem the world. He will set everything right in its course. Evil will be no more. He will completely remove it. We read in this passage that he removes all things that oppose him. 

Follow him. Faith is following. When we read that passage it is clear some people reject God’s plan. They reject him. It’s clear that happens in the world. Sometimes it is harder to see how we have done that. We have to make a decision to follow him and serve him, be a part of what he is doing. There is hope, security in that. You can tell your kids the world is crazy but it is going to be ok, and you can really mean it because you know there is a redeemer. What are you raising your kids to rest in: wishful thinking, warm fuzzies that are meaningless. 

Discovery Groups. Reading the Bible. Talking about it (sharing our questions), asking the question of “what do I need to do?” This is what followers of Christ do. 

The resurrection of Jesus tells us a new order has broken in. 

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