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About this series
Easter - You Gotta Die
The Counterintuitive Path to Life
When everything around you feels like it’s falling apart, when the chaos and dysfunction you see in the world and - closer to home - in your own life, how do you fix it? In this message, Chip tells us God has an amazing plan but on the face of it, it sounds a little radical. The best part? It’s how you’ll find hope - lasting hope. Don’t miss it!More from this series
Do you know what Easter is? God looking down from heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, of seeing all people of all time simultaneously in all of our needs and seeing the chaos and the destruction, both personally and globally. And the Son saying, “I’ll go. Let’s do an intervention! Let’s help them see that they are messed up and they are selfish, and they need to die and receive life so they can be resurrected.”
And so, Jesus came and He did the intervention to rescue us. His life mission, He said was, “I came to seek and to save those which were lost.” And so, the first thing He offered was life, because we are on death patterns. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever,” underline the word, “believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
And what we are going to learn is He went to the cross and He died on the cross for you. He intervened and said, “What you can’t do for yourself, I am going to do.” And He literally paid, that’s what the word “redemption” means. He paid for your sin and paid for mine. And then He rose from the grave and says, “Look, free gift.”
But He says, “Not just life, I want to give you hope.” You need hope that there’s someone who is personal and real and who is the God of the universe who made you, who is preparing a place, and wants you with Him. Wants you with Him. Because He loves you!
That’s the message of Easter. And the question you ought to be asking is: if that’s the message of Easter, what gives this Jesus the right to make that outlandish offer? Don’t other religions have offers about peace and life and hope? I mean, what makes you think this one is real? Right? That was my question.
Jesus makes this offer based on four things. First, His life. Sinless, revealing God’s character. If we could have found, if His enemies could have found one sin, the message of Jesus and all of His claims go out the window.
But instead, Jesus said, “Look, here’s the deal, I have come to do an intervention and you have death. Life, you want to see what life looks like? See the poor? I feed them. See the hungry? I feed them. See the people that have lost close…I raised them from the dead. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. You want to know what God is like? You see this prostitute and the messed up life she has had and the four partners, ‘Go and sin no more.’ You see this lady whose heart is broken and this guy that has just lost his daughter? I raised her from the dead. These people don’t have purpose and these religious people and all their pious stuff, I shoot it straight with them and say, ‘Quit pretending. Quit posturing. Quit being a hypocrite.’”
His life. It marks A.D., B.C. – all of life is around this single, solitary life that has changed the world. And second, His death. Colossians chapter 2 makes it clear that when He died, He didn’t just physically die, because He was fully God and fully man. Being man, He could die; being God, it could be a perfect sacrifice. And He covered sin. He broke the penalty of sin. He conquered death and destroyed the works of the evil one.
His life, His death, and finally, He proved it all with His resurrection. Read the book of Acts, chapters 1 and 2. This isn’t some weird religious philosopher that had dreams and told people, “There’s a new way to God.” This was someone who was outrageous. He said, “I’m the Savior of the world! I am truth incarnate. There is no other way but Me.”
He is either right, wrong, or a lunatic. But you can’t, you can’t even admire Jesus as a teacher. What kind of teacher would lie to you? The resurrection proves that what He said was true.
God visited the planet. You talk about an intervention. He visited the planet and suffered and lived a perfect life for you. For you personally. For me! Five hundred eyewitnesses for over forty days that could touch His hands. They had meals with Him.
There’s a reason we are sitting in this room. It’s not because we are on the salad bar of the philosophical religious views of our day. We are sitting in this room because a real God visited a real planet and died on a real cross and came back to life and walked around for forty days with eyewitnesses and their lives have been completely transformed.
The tragedy is we have taken that and made it religion, because the final point is, it’s our union with Him. What God has always wanted. The reason He did the intervention.
You don’t do an intervention so that people end up in a treatment center and their message is, “Hey! I go to treatment centers! I go on Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays! I go through the twelve steps. It’s a great treatment center!” Have you ever been to a treatment center? I love treatment centers. Let’s be treatment center people.
What you want them to do is have an intervention and get whole and come back and love you and be connected to you. The tragedy of our day and the reason that I opted out of Christianity as a young person, all they wanted to do was talk about their religion and telling me that I wasn’t moral enough. I knew I wasn’t moral enough, okay? Give me a break.
God’s not trying to improve your morality. God is not trying to get you to be more religious. He wants you to be in union and relationship with Him and when that happens, life, “I am crucified,” see, you’ve got to die. “I’m crucified with Christ, nevertheless,” Paul would say, “I live.” How? “Christ lives inside of me.” Well, how does that work? I put the verse in it.
2 Corinthians 5, verses 14 and 15. The apostle Paul, the same one who gave us the secret, counterintuitive means to life and hope and peace says this, “The love of Christ controls us. Having concluded this, that one died for all,” that One, Jesus. Notice the result, “Therefore, all died.” Why? “And He died for all so that those who live might live no longer for themselves.” Do you feel the dying? It’s not about you. Can you imagine living a life that, it’s not about you? It’s not about your dreams and your goals and what you can get and who you can impress.
One died, Jesus. Therefore, all died. And He died so that we can live no longer for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose from the dead. “Therefore, if any man or any woman is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things pass away, behold, everything becomes new.” He wants the old you to die and He wants to allow His Spirit to enter your life and take up residence in you and make a brand-new you.
That little word “in Christ” or “in Him” happens two hundred times in the New Testament. The message of the gospel, the message of Easter isn’t – this is what I grew up hearing: If your good deeds are more than your bad deeds, I guess you get in. And since we are all in denial, no matter what I did, I thought, Well, it’s getting kind of close but I think I’m doing pretty good. Right?
God says: Let me give you, I am holy. I am pure. One single bad deed, one single thought because I am absolute pure in My holiness, you can’t have relationship with Me. I don’t want you trying to get better or to prove or to perform. I want you to be connected to Me and I will do for you what you could never do for yourself.
Let me give you a picture. This has just helped me so much. Imagine if you will, this is a bolt. Got that? Imagine this bolt is you or me. And there are certain properties, there’s a nature to a bolt, correct? It’s made out of metal. And let’s imagine that this little fish tank, I think is what we’ve got here.
And this water is – staying on top of the water is being a good person, a righteous person, a loving person, a person that cares about others, a person that is pleasing to God. Left to yourself and your power and your effort, when you try and do that, does anybody have any predictions about where this bolt is going? Okay. Let’s check this out to make sure. Yep. It’s down there.
Well, hold it, well, wait a second. Oh, no, no. Well, maybe we should paint it. Or maybe would could put a little cross on it. And maybe the bolt could go to church now and then. Or it could really try and maybe give away a little money, do a little…
You can do all kind of little things with the bolt but, okay, let’s pretend it’s painted and it’s really pretty and it’s even religious. Oops. Still got a problem! Because the nature of the bolt in and of itself is powerless.
The – here’s the intervention. The intervention is the very life of Jesus – fully man, fully God – who died and says when He died, when a person by faith trusts in Him, you died with Him, you’re buried with Him, so you can be resurrected with Him.
Now, what is the nature of wood when I put it in the water? Predictions?
It’s the fundamental property of the wood. It will always float. Now, get this. This is the gospel. This is the good news.
The good news is not that you can try hard, become religious, read the Bible, go on a mission trip, give some money, and try and earn your way to God. The gospel is: none of that can ever work.
But by faith, you can turn from your sin and you can be united with Him. See this rubber band? This blue one here? It’s faith.
It’s that moment in specific space/time history when you hear and understand that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, died for your sin, rose from the dead, and offers you new life, free of charge, that you could never do. And you turn from your sin and you say, “I can’t live this life, but I want to be connected to You. And You said whoever believes in You could be connected to You. I want to be in union with You.”
See, the Scripture says very clearly, “He that has the Son has life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you,” the apostle John would say, “that you might know that you have eternal life.”
And so, when you have relationship with Him, all the properties now and what is true of Christ becomes true of you. When you turn from your sin, ask Christ to come into your life, you are atoned or forgiven. The Spirit of God enters your life. He begins to form the life of Christ in you. He seals you with His Spirit. He takes you from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. He breaks the power of sin. Death forever never can reign over you again. The moment you die, you will be ushered into the very presence of God forever and ever. But He – you are crucified with Christ, nevertheless, look! You’re living! But it’s not you, it’s Christ in you.
That’s the message and the offer. And so, the question I have for you is: do you have the Son? Do you have the Son of God living in you? If you do, you have eternal life. If you do not, you do not have life. Notice, I didn’t say, “Do you got to church?” I didn’t say, “Are you moral?” I didn’t say, “Did you read the Bible?” I didn’t say if you give to the United Way. All those things may be very, very good. But none of them have the power to give you eternal life.
And just like when you make a major union with another person, it’s not just for a certain day or a point in time. It’s for a new life. There’s a new path. It’s not about coming to some service and realizing, Oh! I need to be united with Christ. Oh, Father, please forgive me! And then go off and live the same way. No, no, no!
I died to my old way of life. And I said to a cute, little, blonde-haired girl, “I would like to be united with you all the rest of my days and be on a new path with you.” I did not say, “Honey, I want you to know for this day that I’m giving my old girlfriends and I want to be married to you and be united to you and thank you. I’m glad we’re married. Now, I think I’m going to go, kind of, do…
She would have not been happy with that. Nor me her doing that. What I committed to was a new way of life that gave me new power to be on a new path.
And that’s our final question. What’s the path? What’s the counterintuitive path that brings life and hope and peace? And it’s summarized in Romans chapter 12, the first two verses. The same author. He says, “I urge you therefore, my brethren,” or, “brothers and sisters” is the idea, “in light of God’s mercy,” in other words, “in light of what He has done for you,” here’s the path that you’re on so that you receive life and you’re going to get right back to Saint Francis, “offer your body,” or, “present your body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,” then get the last line, “this is your spiritual service of worship.”
Translation: this is what God really wants. Once you turn from your sin and receive the gift, on a certain day, at a certain time, are you ready for this? You’ve got to die. The reason there are so many Christians who say, “I love God,” and they have prayed a prayer and done this and done that and they live their own life and their lives don’t resemble Christ, they never died.
You’ve got to die. You’ve got to say, God, not my will, but Yours. Jesus died before He could be resurrected. In nature, if it doesn’t die, it doesn’t produce fruit. “Unless a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it remains by itself alone. If it dies, it brings forth much fruit.”
Are you ready to die? You know what? God may be very gracious, but are you ready to die to some things that you think will make your life work?
See, any person or anything that your life revolves around, you know what that’s called? That you orbit around? That holds you up? That’s what you worship. Some people, they worship their job, some people worship their mate, some people worship the fantasy of the success. The when/then syndrome. “When I get the big job. When I get the house on the hill. When we get the kitchen remodeled. When we finally have children. When I finally get married. When I finally make a lot of money. If I keep working out, if I can look like this, then…!”
And we spend our whole days answering emails and responding to voicemails. I’m this busy, busy, busy, busy, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go. For what? So I can own control, pose, pretend, and try and in my own energy be good enough to get people to love me.
And all the while, the One who came to do the intervention is standing back, Jesus, saying, I have watched this movie a lot of times. There’s not a happy ending coming. There’s not a happy ending in this life and there’s a tragic ending in the next. Will you allow Me to forgive you and do for you what you can never do for yourself? And will you allow Me to come into your life? And after I do, would you slide over and let Me drive? And I will tell you this, if I loved you enough to die for you, where I’m going to drive this car is better than you could ever dream. The roads will not always be smooth and they will not take the turns that you always like, but if you’ll listen to what I have to say, you’ll do some counterintuitive things like give and you will receive. You’ll love in your marriage and forgive, even when it doesn’t come back and this bizarre thing happens. You get love back. You’ll live the kind of life that your kids will say, “Wow, that’s the kind of person, that’s the kind of dad, that’s the kind of mom I want to be.”
Guess what – you can’t do this! Christ in you is the hope of glory. Would you like to have eternal life beginning today? If so, I’d like to lead you in a prayer. And for some, let me tell you, I know, you know, “Today is the day,” the Bible says, “of salvation.” You may not be ready, you know what? But I don’t know when your next window is coming.
An intervention occurred. Option A: I will remain in denial. “I’m doing okay. Everything is okay. I don’t have a problem.” Option B: I’m sick and tired of living the way I am. And I need life and I need hope and I need peace that I can’t get from myself. And I’m going to die to my way and I’m going to ask God to come into my life so I can follow Him. Those are your options.