Bible Study Cross-Centered Life Theology

Because Jesus Rose


Our Lord Jesus rose from the dead, and because he rose I, and many of you, are going to church this morning.  Every Sunday, the first day of the week, we gather to remember and to celebrate the single most important event in the history of the universe: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

It’s easy to take for granted the dawning of a new day.   When was the last time you were up before dawn and thought, “I wonder if the sun is going to come up today?”  That thought rarely crosses our minds!  We just take for granted that God is going to give us and the other 6 ½ billion people on this planet another day of existence.  We take for granted that the sun will replenish the energy of all the plant life on our world.  We take for granted that its warm rays will continue to bathe the earth with life.  We don’t appreciate the blessings that we receive each day, just because the sun rose.

I think we often make this same mistake when it comes to Jesus’ resurrection.  We fail to appreciate the manifold blessings that have come to us because the Son of God rose.  So I want you to think with me for a few moments on this idea: Because Jesus rose from the dead… 

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can be saved.  Rom. 10.9

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we who believe are forgiven, pardoned, justified, made righteous. Rom. 4:24-25

…It (righteousness) will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus, our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he is able to save the hardest of sinners Acts 9:1-5

Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…. approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him…I am JESUS whom you are persecuting  (Later, this same Saul would write in 1 Tim. 1:15) …Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he has defeated death.  Rom. 6.9

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he can raise us from the dead, and we will never die again!  John 11:25

I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.  John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he raises us from spiritual death.  Eph. 2:4-5

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he can raise us from physical death.  Rom. 8:11

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

1 Cor. 15:22-23

…so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order:  Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he will raise our fellow Christians from the dead.  1 Thess. 4:14

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he can heal the sick Acts 4.10

let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can receive mercy and grace in time of need. Heb. 4:14

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we have someone constantly praying for us Rom. 8.34

Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Heb. 7:25

…He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he can fulfill his promise to give us the Holy Spirit. John 16:7

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth:  it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.

Acts 2:33

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he has authority over Satan… and everything else too.  Eph. 1:20-22 

…according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, the church belongs to him and him alone Eph. 1:22

And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can be certain of his presence with us: Mt. 18.20

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Mt. 28:20

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Jn. 14.18 

I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have fellowship with him Jn 14.23

If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 

We can eat with him Rev. 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

We can see him Jn 16:16

…again a little while, and you will see me.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he is present to see you through any trial.  Acts 7:55

(Stephen, as he was being stoned to death said…) Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! 

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we have the hope of an eternal inheritance!  1 Pet. 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you…

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can live a holy, new life.  Rom. 6:4

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he will return just as he said.  John 14.3

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Acts 1:11

…This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he will one day settle all accounts with justice Rev. 22.12

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can enjoy his presence for all eternity.  1 Thess. 4:17

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

All of this…  BECAUSE this living, reigning, glorious SON ROSE, at dawn, on the first day of the week!

Bible Study Cross-Centered Life Sermons Theology

Romans 1:18-25 Why is thanklessness a sin?

This post is based on a SERMON that is available by clicking here.

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul mentions a huge sinful failure that we too often overlook:  the failure to give thanks to God.  Romans 1:21

For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him…  

Why is the failure to give thanks a sin?  OK, we might accept it as a rather menial sin of omission, but in the context of Romans 1, Paul mentions this as part of his explanation for the wrath of God that is being revealed against all the godlessness and unrighteousness of men.  So what is the big deal about failing to give thanks?

First some background… In Romans 1 Paul talks about the sin of the gentiles and how their unrighteousness deserves God’s wrath.  In chapter 2, he moves on to the religious Jews, and shows how they too are under God’s wrath.  In chapter 3, he pulls it all together and in one tremendous passage concludes that there is no one righteous, not even one.  We are all deserving of God’s wrath–his righteous judgement of sin.

That is the overarching teaching of Romans 1-3.  We deserve the wrath of God because of our sin.  But as we look more closely at the individual facets of Paul’s argument for the justness of God’s wrath upon the human race, there is much we can learn about the different ways our sinful condition manifests itself in our lives.

And as I have meditated on Romans 1:21, I have asked myself this question:

Why does the failure to give thanks bring God’s wrath upon the gentiles? 

It really is amazing, that of all the sins that Paul could have mentioned here as being foundational to the condemnation of the pagan gentiles, he mentions the failure to give thanks. Why is this?  And what can I learn from this to apply to my own sinful, unthankful heart?

I think a good place to start in our understanding of this verse is to try to understand better what “giving thanks” is.  I read through the different places that this verb is used in the New Testament and came up with this definition:

We give thanks when we acknowledge the goodness of another

as it is expressed to us in real benefits.

When I first began to work on this definition, I used the term “tangible benefits”, but I soon changed that because “tangible” means that we can touch them.  But what I am trying to communicate through the term “real benefits” is that thankfulness is not just a vague, general sort of thing, but is always related to some specific benefit or blessing that is very real and concrete.  Forgiveness is not “tangible” but it is a very “real benefit.”  Food to eat is tangible, and is also a very real benefit.  Both are things for which we should be thankful.

Let me just quickly show you some of the occurrences in the New Testament that led me to this definition:

  • Jesus gave thanks to the Father for the bread and fish before serving the multitudes.
  • He gave thanks to the Father before giving the bread and wine to his disciples at the Last Supper.
  • In Luke 17, the one leper of the ten who were healed fell on his face and gave thanks to Jesus for his healing.
  • Paul often began his letters giving thanks to God for the church to whom he was writing.
  • In Rev. 11, the 24 elders fall on their faces and give thanks to the Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign!

Do you see the pattern?  Thankfulness is always expressed FOR something.  For food, or for healing, or for other Christians, or even for Jesus himself and for the exercise of his reign.

But it is also an important part of the definition that thankfulness is always TO someone.  This is fairly obvious, but for thanksgiving to occur, there must be something that one is thankful for, and there must also be someone that one is thankful to.

If a child gets a gift on his birthday, it is possible for him to be enamored with that gift and enjoying that gift and really happy that he has that gift….there is something that he is glad FOR… but if that gladness and joy is not expressed TO someone, then we reprimand that child for being thankless.

On the other hand, imagine that I am watching a documentary on TV about a wealthy man who has millions and has done all kinds of amazing things with his money.  I may be able to admire that man as someone fabulously wealthy, but it is meaningless to say that I am thankful toward him until he pays my mortgage!  If there have been no real, tangible benefits that have come my way from him, I can’t be thankful to him.  So, here’s the definition again…

We give thanks when we acknowledge the goodness of another

as it is expressed to us in real benefits.

When Paul condemns the pagan gentiles for their failure to “give thanks” to God, he is saying first of all that there has been some very real benefit that has come to them.

Often when we study this passage, we look at what it says about God being revealed in the creation and say that the gentiles should have seen in the stars and the sun and the earth around them that there IS a Creator God.  They should have recognized Jehovah as God.  And that is certainly true, but Paul adds that not only should they have honored God as God, they should have given thanks to Him.

Thankfulness has an added dimension that praise and giving honor don’t.  That added dimension is the benefit received.  Not only is God, God, but he blesses mankind tremendously.  The fact that Paul impunes them for their lack of thanks, implies that there were benefits that came to them.

So what benefits came to the gentiles?  Turn to Acts 17.  Here Paul is also speaking to pagan gentiles and there are lots of parallels between what he says in Rom. 1 about gentiles, and what he says in Acts 17:24-25 to them

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything…

That pretty much sums up the very real benefit that the gentiles had received from God:  their very existence!  their life, their breath… indeed everything that they have and enjoy and experience comes from him.  

So Paul is saying far more here than simply that the gentiles should have recognized the existence of God through the creation.  He is saying, “you gentiles owe EVERYTHING to God, and you have not thanked him for giving you everything pertaining to your existence.”

But that still doesn’t seem to me to answer why their failure to give thanks resulted in God’s wrath.  And that’s why we have to continue our analysis in light of the first part of the definition of “giving thanks”.  Thankfulness is always expressed FOR something, but also TO someone.  Appreciating blessings and benefits is meaningless if it isn’t directed to someone.  As the definition says:  We give thanks when we acknowledge the goodness of another as it is expressed to us in real benefits.

If the Gentiles had only failed to recognize the REAL BENEFITS, that would have been bad enough, but not only did they do that, they ENJOYED those benefits while denying the goodness of the one who GAVE the benefits.

Remember what the Israelites did when they were in the desert on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land.  It was bad enough when they complained against God because there was no food, but it was even worse when they complained against God after he had given them manna from heaven!  They were enjoying his blessing, but denying his goodness.  

A thankful person isn’t just someone who is glad he has a benefit or a blessing to enjoy, rather he is one who ACKNOWLEDGES the goodness of the ONE who does the blessing.

Did you ever stop to think that it is impossible to be thankful to something inanimate.  You can’t be thankful to your house for keeping you warm in the winter.  You can be thankful to God for giving you the house, but you can’t be thankful to the house.  The house isn’t keeping you warm because of its kind and benevolent character!

God showed himself in the creation to the Gentiles, and gave them the blessings and benefits of their existence, NOT just so that they could receive the benefits as an end in themselves, but so that they would see his goodness and his glory.   

When the pagan gentiles failed to honor God as God and failed to see that he had blessed them, they were denying the goodness of God!  Everything around us in the creation proclaims the infinite goodness of God!  To reject that and to scorn the Giver of life and existence is to scorn his infinite goodness.  Scorning an infinite God is an infinite sin, and one that is worthy of infinite condemnation!

The later post, The Blessing of Giving Thanks, continues with more thoughts from Romans 1:18-25

This post is based on a SERMON that is available by clicking here.