SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 24 April 2022
Sermon Text: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
Sermon Series: “Dying and Rising with Christ”
I. What is ‘sharing Jesus’ resurrection’?
II. What happens when we share Jesus’ resurrection?
III. What is the expected result of our sharing Jesus’ resurrection with the world?
With today’s sermon, this series on ‘Dying and Rising with Jesus’ ends. Through these sermon messages, we’ve contemplated on the meanings of Jesus’ death on the cross and His rising from the dead. I believe your appreciation of these foundational teachings of Christianity has been deepened alongside your commitment to and joy in the Lord Jesus.
Last week which was Easter Sunday, we pondered upon a life that is empowered by Jesus’ resurrection. In a word, what evidence there is in Christians like you and me that shows the power of Jesus’ resurrection. At least a couple of evidence were pointed out. Firstly, we no longer consider people according to the worldly standards, but to the Spirit of God. In other words, we regard Christians as brothers and sisters in Jesus because of our faith in the Lord. No longer do differences among us divide us. We’re one to another fellow members of God’s household. In our veins, the one and same blood runs and that is the blood of the living Lord Jesus. Secondly, we’re entrusted by the Lord the ministry of reconciliation – that is, to bring the unbelievers to Jesus, and through Him, to the Father. In this regard, we Christians are ‘ambassadors for Christ’ on earth, not in a hypothetical term but in an actual and official term. Each of us represent Jesus in this world.
Today’s message is to sum up all we’ve heard and contemplated so far in this series. Moreover, it is to ensure you all that you’re no longer dead in sin but alive in Jesus. And as the living in Jesus, each of you are, in fact, sharing Jesus’ resurrection with all people around you. By ensuring you of this, it is my prayer that you may be encouraged as well as challenged to devote yourselves more to what you’ve been doing since your conversion.
I. WHAT IS ‘SHARING JESUS’ RESURRECTION’?
Having said, what is ‘sharing Jesus’ resurrection’ that you and I’ve been continuing since our conversion? It’s not a complicate theological idea. Rather, it is the simplest conviction every Christian holds – that is, the awareness of being a Christian or, simply, the belief in Jesus Christ.
As you introduce yourself to others as Christian, you share Jesus’ resurrection. As your families or friends or work colleagues are aware of your faith in Jesus, that is your sharing Jesus’ resurrection with them.
How could that be sharing Christ’s resurrection? It is because you represent the risen, thus, living Jesus to the eyes and hearts of those around you. It is your sharing Jesus’ resurrection because when people around you see you or thought of you, they would think of Jesus, overlapping you with Him. Some of them would remember what you’ve said to them about Jesus’ death and rising from an empty tomb. Some others might recall your Christian viewpoint or belief which seems to be different from theirs. In fact, your presence in the midst of people you know or encounter is the beginning of your sharing Jesus’ resurrection with them. Some of us are more proactive to it than some others, but that doesn’t change the fact that we all share with the world Jesus and specifically His resurrection.
The essential key to sharing Jesus is Christian’s conviction of their death together with Jesus and rising from the dead together with Him the Lord. I believe you all agree with this truth and confess that you died and rose with Jesus. Through this belief alone, one’s sin is forgiven, and Jesus’ eternal life is bestowed upon him/her.
If this is so, then, what does it mean to believe that you have died with Jesus and rose with Him from the dead? In other words, what does your faith in your death and rising from it together with Jesus mean to you?
It means that you’re no longer of this world, but of Jesus’ kingdom. You still live and continue your life on earth, but your faith in Jesus means that your citizenship is of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. You hold a passport issued by the kingdom of which the living Lord Jesus is King. You believe in Jesus who died and rose, and this means you realise that you have been lifted up to belong to the realm that is far greater and powerful, incomparably glorious than this fallen and temporal world!
After all, people recognise that you hold a different citizenship, belonging to another realm, and such is how you represent Jesus to the world, thus, share His resurrection. Surely, you and I have been doing this since the moment we began trusting in Jesus and committed our life to Him.
II. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE SHARE JSEUS’ RESURRECTION?
What happens, then, when we Christians share Jesus’ resurrection? Applauses? No, the opposite – that is, troubles. The Apostle Paul in our text passage talks about four kinds of trouble we face in this world.
Firstly, as he speaks in v. 8, we’re ‘afflicted’ or ‘hard-pressed.’ The picture is that we’re surrounded and hard-pressed to a point of being squashed. A good illustration of this is found in Mk. 3. Hearing Jesus’ miracles of healing, people came from all directions and surrounded Jesus, and pushed Him to a point of being crushed. So He had to ask His disciples to prepare a boat. This is a picture of being surrounded to a point of being squashed, and it happens to us who represent Jesus and share His resurrection with all people around us.
Secondly, we’re ‘perplexed’ as Paul continues in v. 8. ‘Perplexed’ means confused, not knowing how to proceed with uncertainty. Everyone else goes the way of this world, passing the wide and easy gate, but the way we walk is through the narrow gate. Often, if not always, going on this narrow way is confusing, and we feel lost. Your family members and friends tell you to join their way; everyone who goes that way gives you an enormous – almost unbearable – pressure. You’re perplexed!
Thirdly, we’re ‘persecuted’! You need no more explanation of this kind of trouble because you’ve heard of persecutions actually happened and are still happening to some Christians in our own generation. We know that more of this kind are on the horizon as the world seeks to oppress Christians and churches. Australia is turning to become like other countries that are hostile toward Christians!
Fourthly and lastly, Paul talks about being ‘struck down’ in v. 9. Its literal meaning is to ‘cast down’ or ‘throw down.’ Interestingly, the same Greek word Paul uses here is also used in Rev. 12:10. I’ll read that verse to you and, hearing it, I believe, you’d grasp the sense of this expression, ‘struck down’ or ‘thrown down.’ It’s Rev. 12:10, “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ has come, for the accuser of our brothers has been THROWN DOWN, who accuses them day and night before our God’.” What do you think might be the way of treating Satan the accuser of Christians? Throwing him down casually or tenderly? Not at all. Forcibly, instead, enough to squash him eternally in hell! Such is the picture of the troubles Christians face in the world.
Simply put, all who represent Jesus on earth and share His resurrection with the world face troubles and sufferings. This is unavoidable as Jesus warned us all earlier in Jn. 15:20, “If [the world] persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”
Although we Christians cannot evade these troubles, something greatly exciting happens to us. This enables us to continue in sharing Jesus and do it more with a greater joy. This is God’s power revealed, manifested in our life. We’re hard-pressed in all directions, but we’re not ‘crushed’ nor are we ‘driven to despair.’ We’re ‘not forgotten’ nor ‘destroyed.’ God in His power upholds us and protects us. He guides our paths and shows us His love for us.
Remember what you heard from Ps. 116 and agreed with the psalmist when he said, “I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.” This is a common testimony you hear from every fellow Christian. When God’s children make their pleas, the Father hears and answers in His love and power. Listen to the psalmist testifying in v. 2 of the same psalm, “[God] inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.” Troubles surely come to our way, but God, our gracious Heavenly Father, hears us and answers to us in His love and mercy. So, we’re not crushed even though the world seeks to squash us; we’re not driven to despair, nor are we forgotten nor destroyed at all! God’s power is manifested in us and through us!
There’s one more exciting thing happens to us Christians. As we continue our life in the risen Lord Jesus, we share Jesus’ resurrection with the world. In continuing this, we witness births of new Christians and their growth in faith. We see Christ’s churches continually and actively preach Jesus’ gospel to the world.
Some of you might consider that’s a result of ministers’ preaching God’s word and churches’ ministry of evangelism/mission. You might give your applauses to some Christians who are devoted to helping people out to find Jesus and trust in Him. But that’s not the full picture. The full picture of it is that you alongside all followers of Jesus keep sharing Jesus and His resurrection by being faithful to Him. The ministries done by churches and preachers are visible parts of the complete picture, and the most important yet invisible parts of it are the ordinary Christians walking faithfully in Jesus, following His narrow way.
If there were not such faithful Christians, Australia would’ve been so much more secular than she is now. If there weren’t faithful Christians like you, St Columba’s would’ve disappeared decades, if not a century, ago. The whole world would’ve been turned into a living hell, were there not Christians who have faithfully shared the living Lord Jesus with their friends and neighbours!
Being faithful to our Saviour and Lord is to constantly die and rise with Him. As you die with Jesus to sin, God’s mercy is revealed through you to many others, and you’ll see life beginning and blossoming in their lives. As you rise with Jesus, God’s power is manifested through you, so you’ll see Christ’s life turning into thanksgiving in numerous lives. After all, this is what the Apostle Paul means when he says in v. 12 that “death is at work in us [that is, him and his fellow gospel workers], but life in you [that is, Christians in the Lord’s church].”
III. WHAT IS THE EXPECTED RESULT OF OUR SHARING JESUS’ RESURRECTION WITH THE WORLD?
The ultimate result that is expected with our sharing Jesus’ resurrection with the world is the glory of God. In other words, Jesus’ name is honoured and God the Father is worshipped. This is the result in the universal level.
On a personal level, sharing Jesus brings an inward conviction of God’s eternal blessing. Your heart and soul are assured of the certainty of the coming glory in Jesus. Having this inward conviction, no longer is your heart shaken by anything of the world; no longer is anything trouble to you.
With this inward conviction, even your bodily aging and physical decline is not at all an anxious or depressing thing. On the contrary, you realise it is necessary because, through bodily death, you’ll be raised in glory together with all saints who are asleep in Christ. Through this rising, you’ll participate in the absolutely amazing cosmic event of worship to God the Father through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit!
This is God’s daily renewal of our inward person. He refreshes and deepens our knowledge of the Father’s love and glory, and the grace of the Son, Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, let me reemphasise to you that you’re indeed sharing Jesus’ resurrection by being faithful to Him in your life. Some of you might feel guilty when you think of bearing witness to Jesus to your families and friends, but you shouldn’t forget that your faithful life itself is a strong and powerful testimony of the living Jesus Christ to their eyes and heart. By living your faith out, you’re presenting the living Lord to all around you.
Moreover, God’s power is revealed to their eyes through your faithful walk with Jesus. People around you notice that you’re in troubles – not one but one after the other – but they see you never losing your heart but strong and firm and even rejoicing in Christ. And such a firm faith and joyful hope are a shock to the eyes of the unbelievers. Indeed, you’re presenting to all people not only Jesus and His free saving grace, but also His resurrection!
So, let us give thanks to our living Lord Jesus and our Father God who renews our inward person daily, preparing us for His glorious kingdom! ***