“The beginning of the end…” That phrase has been used for the title of a book, a poem, a movie, a song, and I imagine in a number of other ways by many people. So I guess it is my turn to use that phrase, but I think the direction I will go with this is somewhat different than the direction others have gone.
Today we are considering Easter. Easter, at least in modern times, is linked to the Resurrection of Jesus, and rightfully so. If you consider the most important events that have occurred in the history of the human race – discovering fire, the printing press, vaccinations, discovering electricity, or the computer – each of them wonderful in many ways, none of them compare to the event of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Why do I say that? All of those other events led to a “higher” standard of living for people; in some cases greatly extending the average life expectancy. Certainly that is important, but what about after this life? How do those discoveries or inventions help with that?
They don’t – although the Guttenberg press did lead to an unimaginable number of Bibles being printed in every known language, and that certainly helps people to know about the Resurrection of Christ. But Jesus’ resurrection was the single most important event in all of human history because it started what I am referring to as “the beginning of the end.” Again, why do I say that?
In the beginning, when mankind fell into sin, we were separated from God. That was not God’s desire or plan, it was our own doing, but God certainly did not want that for us. He wanted us to be able to have fellowship with Him.
Thus God enacted a plan that would bring about a way for us, each of us, to choose to be in fellowship with God. That plan was thousands of years in the making, and the culmination of that plan was manifested at the birth of Jesus – God the Son – when He was born of Mary in Bethlehem.
Jesus lived a sinless life, fulfilling the Law of God, and then He chose to die in your and my place, taking on Himself God’s punishment for OUR sin. Although many people reject that idea, thinking God would never become sin for us, that is exactly what God did, because there was no other way for sin to be atoned for – paid for. None of us can ever pay for sin because we are all spiritually bankrupt because of our sin. God is the only one in existence who is sinless, therefore He was the only one who could be a legitimate substitute for us – all of us.
So Jesus died on the cross 2,000 years ago, satisfying God’s justice regarding sin. But that was not the end of the story. Had Jesus remained dead none of us could have eternal life – true life after death, but He didn’t remain dead.
That is where the Resurrection comes in. The Resurrection is “the beginning of the end” – the end of spiritual death for all who believe in Christ.
From the time of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, death had reign over the lives of ALL people because all sinned. God was certainly in the world, and God chose to have dealings with people, especially those who believed the promises of salvation that He first made to Adam and Eve, but God did not dwell “in us.”
Why is that important? Because as it says of God the Son, “In Him is life” (John 1:4). In fact Jesus is “eternal life,” and without eternal life you cannot dwell with God, or be in true fellowship with God. That is why it plainly says in 1 John 5:11-12, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”
Three days after Jesus was crucified for my sin and for yours, He rose from the dead. Again, why is that the most important event in human history? Because when Jesus rose from the dead at the Resurrection He revealed that He was victorious over sin and death, and being victorious over death He has the right to give eternal life to anyone who is willing to turn to Jesus in faith, believing that He alone can give them eternal life (John 5:21).
That means if you repent of your sins, putting your faith in Jesus alone, when you die, and we all die, then you will dwell WITH God for all eternity, and not be separated FROM God for all eternity.
Certainly it is nice to have fire to cook and keep warm. Certainly it is better to have vaccinations that work than to not have them, or to have electricity to greatly improve our standard of living; but none of that compares with being able to dwell with God throughout the rest of eternity – nothing else even comes close.
The question isn’t if or when you will die. The question is, “Where will you spend eternity?” Jesus said that He alone is the way to the Father. If the Son of God does not dwell in you then you cannot dwell with the Father – period. It is that simple, and that serious.
This is not about religion, or trying to do good works; it is about believing in Jesus alone to receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.
I encourage you to choose life – choose Christ.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.