He's Alive! We're Alive!/April 1, 2018

Second Baptist Church
Easter Sunday Worship  April 1, 2018
He’s Alive!  We’re Alive

Col. 3:1-4
    Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. [2] Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. [3] For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

Most of you woke up this morning with two questions as you looked out the window.  1.)  Is this actually Easter?  2.)  Is this weather some kind of April Fools joke? Today is April 1, which creates a bit of a metaphor for Easter.  Because when Jesus arose from the tomb and appeared to his disciples, it may have appeared to those disciples to be an unbelievable incident akin to our April Fool's jokes.  

I remember as a kid my father standing at the window looking out and saying, “Wow, there is an elephant trotting down our street.  It must have escaped from the circus.”  And we kids would go running to the window, and my Dad would say, “April Fools.”  Maybe that’s why I have trust issues.Nothing could have prepared the women and the disciples for what they saw that morning.  A dead man walking out of tomb.  They saw his body taken down from the cross.  They may have even seen the tomb sealed. It’s like the most fantastic, unbelievable April Fools joke coming true and instead of shouting “April Fools,” we can instead shout, “He is Risen!”

Easter is also a reminder of the hope that exists within people of God for better things ahead. The women went to the tomb on the dawn of that Sunday 20 centuries ago.  They went with faces downcast, grieving, mourning the death of their Lord. But when they went away from the tomb, they were running, leaping, shouting for joy at the sight of the empty tomb.  Christ was risen!

We celebrate Easter every year as the high holy day of the Christian calendar.  Why?  Because all of our identity, all of our hope, all of our life is wrapped up in the simple truth that Christ arose. Paul wrote in I Cor. 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  Just as we are all sinners because sin came into the world through Adam, we are all made alive (the living and the dead) because Christ arose.” Since Christ was raised from the dead, our hope and confidence is that we too shall be raised.  It is the hope of the Christian, the centerpiece of our faith, the prescription for the problem of sin and death.For whatever reason you may be here today, I’m here to worship the risen Christ.  I am here because Jesus lives!  And because he lives, I too will live for eternity.  

Paul is essentially saying this to the Colossian Christians.  Apparently, there were some false teachings being generated in the Colossian church.  Human ideas had taken precedent over the ideas of the Gospel.  Perhaps a sort of rationalism had set in. Even today, rationalism is most often a foe of the resurrection scenario.  Rationalism that would say that once a person is crucified, pronounced dead, and placed in a tomb, it would be impossible for them to be raised. Rationalism that says that we can only really trust and believe in that which we can see.  Like Thomas the disciple, who said I will only believe if I can place my hand in the nail prints of his hand.To many people in society, the resurrection story is considered a religious fable, perhaps a hoax attempted by the early disciples to pacify the other followers. But these same disciples all died torturous deaths, unwilling to renounce the story they told of resurrection. Even Thomas who was the rationalist, the skeptic of the group, reportedly later preached in Parthia and India – and was martyred by the local pagan priests by being run through with a spear.

Paul tells the Corinthian church in I Cor. 15:17-19: And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. [18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. [19] If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. Now here in Colossians, Paul assumed that the resurrection is a given fact in the minds and hearts of the believers.  “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (v. 1)

The point of our text today is to “live the resurrection.”  We are people of the Resurrection so like Christ who was raised and ascended into heaven, our focus, our thoughts, our actions should be on heaven and the things of God. Since we have been raised from death through the power of the cross, then let’s set our hearts on things above.  We don’t have to live in the gutter.  We don’t have to live hopeless lives.  We don’t have to live with faces downcast like the women who went to the tomb before they realized he was alive. We are post-resurrection people.  We know he is alive.  Our lives can be filled with victory rather than despair.  Notice that Paul does not say “You will be raised like Christ.”  He says, “…You have been raised with Christ.” Thus, Christ's resurrection is the active dynamic which resurrects all believers (past, present, future). God the Father did not raise Christ from the dead in isolation: rather the power of Christ's resurrection brought life to all his people, those who have lived and will live.

A Presbyterian pastor, Rev. G.I. Williamson was greeting his congregation following the morning service in Fall River, MA. In this cordial atmosphere, a number of Christian ladies approached Rev. Williamson and asked him when he had been saved? In other words, when was his personal experience in coming to know Jesus Christ? Before Rev. Williamson could respond, a five-year old girl standing beside them spurted out: "I was saved two thousand years ago." What a wonderful response.  Yes, we must invite Jesus into our lives to be saved, but it is the resurrected Christ who died and arose for us that saves us.The title of the message today is “He’s Alive, We’re Alive.”  The resurrection is not some remote historical event that doesn’t concern us.  It is all about us.  The resurrection is everything to us.

So since we know that we are already raised with Christ, what else?  V. 1 continues by telling us to look up to the heavenly realms. This is not some way to escape the realities of this world.  It doesn’t mean we should sit around dreaming of heaven.  What it is saying is that we should live well. We ought to live in the spirit provided for us as Jesus promised. Setting our hearts on things above is to live life to the fullest as children of God.  As people of the resurrection, this whole passage identifies us with Christ.  Let’s take a quick look: 
a.    V. 1  Where Christ is seated.  He is seated at the right hand of the father.  It is a place of honor.  We will enter into the presence of God not only as the guest of honor of Christ, but as heirs of the throne.  We have been made to be sons and daughter – inheriting eternal life.
b.    V. 3  For you died and your life is hidden in Christ.   This means because of your death to sin, your life is new and alive and connected eternally with Christ.  It’s like in John 15 in the passage about the vine and the branches.  Jesus repeats the words over and over again, “I’m in you and you are in me.”  We become inseparable in our relationship with Christ. 
c.    V. 4 “Christ is your life”.  “Appear with him in Glory.”  Not only are we inseparable, Christ and the ways of Christ become the very model and pattern of our lives.  Like I said, WE ARE EASTER PEOPLE.  WE ARE PEOPLE OF THE RESURRECTION.

We can go through this life chasing after the things of this world.  Work.  Pleasure, money, family.  But nothing is complete without entering into the family of God.  Resurrected life.
A life that is about hope and joy.  A life that is not searching for fulfillment, because it is already fulfilled. May Christ enter your life this Easter so that you will be part of his resurrected people.