“Next Sunday is the biggest and most important Sunday of the year for The City Church. Starting this Friday with our teen night and Saturday’s big hip hop concert, and then Sunday’s Easter Celebration…Easter is a very special time and we go absolutely crazy over Easter here at The City Church…you do not want to miss next Sunday morning! Next Sunday lives are gonna be changed, our church will be having a special Easter offering that will help our church help others. Next Sunday people that have never heard the gospel are going to hear about Jesus for the very first time. This coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday is the launching pad for us and our mission.” -jon
Today we REWIND. Sometimes we need to rewind what we have heard and what we know so that it all really sinks in. So today we are gonna rewind.
Before we get to next Sunday and celebrate…let’s take a step back and remember why we celebrate Easter and why we invite our friends. Today we are gonna see why we need to get ready for Easter.
Each of us at times ask questions. Questions aren’t bad, especially if you are willing to find the truth wherever it leads. Today we are gonna ask some questions and we will find the truth. The question you must ask when we are done today is “am I willing to obey the truth to the questions once we find it?” Here’s the questions that many of us ask…
Why do we celebrate Easter? Why go to church at all? Does it really matter? Why?
To answer these questions, I first need to tell you a story, a story of love.
There was this man, a bar bouncer, construction worker and drinker. His girlfriend was a night club singer. After a few years they got married but the marriage was rocky. If the path was left unaverted…abuse, neglect, divorce and hell would soon come knocking at the door.
Instead of abuse, neglect, divorce and hell knocking at the door…someone they never knew and had never met gave them an invite to attend a special day at church. The man didn’t go, but the woman did. She brought her 2 kids and didn’t trust the nursery workers so she dragged the kids to back of the church. The preacher presented the gospel and after hearing it, she came forward. She accepted Christ into heart. A few days later at the house, the man accepted Christ. Over the next few years each of the six children accepted Christ and a family headed for abuse, neglect, divorce and hell was now introduced to light. Heaven came knocking and hell was made to leave.
Those six children now had a dad that loved them and a mom that would raise them to love God and live right. All six kids would grow up to work in churches, missions and spend their lives raising families that would help others. One of those six kids went to seminary, married a wonderful woman and raised two boys. He would start a church that is still thriving to this day. Both of his two boys were raised to work hard and love God. They never used drugs, they were shown the right way to live and both graduated from high school, college and seminary.
One of those boys started youth programs in Southern California in college to help underprivileged kids and now is a youth pastor who helps teens and kids each week with his wife. They pick up teens and kids and introduce them to God, a better life and help in West Lansing. The other boy is writing this right now.
What could have been abuse, neglect, divorce and hell…is now heaven on earth because one person did the most important thing. Literally thousands of kids are helped in this very week, hundreds of people are off the streets today, countless lives have been changed by the gospel because one person invited a drunk man and night club singer to go to church for a special event.
I would not be here today. This church would not be here today. If you have been helped in anyway by The City Church…it wouldn’t have happened if one person over 50 years ago hadn’t invited a night club singer. Think of how many people have been impacted for the good, because of the change brought on by the gospel. Think of the difference one man can make. Think of the difference one man’s life can bring. Without that one single invite many of you would still be going through hell without help. Don’t thank me, don’t thank my family, thank the person that gave a single invite that literally has helped change lives and saved people from hell.
Another love story…
The Apostle Paul wasn’t always an apostle or preacher. For most of Paul’s life he was known as Saul. He was a religious man who in the name of religion killed people that didn’t agree with him. He had families imprisoned and hated Christians. One day that all changed. A religious man on his way to do more harm…met Jesus. His life changed. He was blind but after meeting Jesus he could now see. Saul literally had a life change. His name changed from Saul to Paul. He then started hanging out with the very Christians he once hated and hunted. After several years of going to church and learning from Christians he went on a missionary journey and began preaching. Years later, literally hundreds of house churches were started by that very man. The gospel was taken from Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified, to the major cities of the known world. In just the few years after Paul’s death the gospel had spread across the Mediterranean.
Love story number three…
The gospel being spread years ago literally shaped our continent. The pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom so that they could worship Jesus. This all leads us to today. Because of someone else you have what you have today. Because someone told the most important thing that could be told, lives have been changed. Hell loses and heaven wins.
In I Corinthians 15 that man, the Apostle Paul, took a moment to remind everyone of what’s most important in this whole world. Paul took the time to tell his readers, including me and you whats the most important thing in the whole world.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand. I Corinthians 15:1
Paul starts of this incredible passage by hitting rewind on everything. He says brothers…let me remind (rewind) you about what you received, what He preached and in what you stand. He is starting this passage off by saying “don’t forget what I preached, what you heard, what gives you the strength to keep going, what is your purpose, what is your motivation, what is the most important thing that is the reason you stand.”
It was common place in Bible times for people to be hunted and killed. The Colosseum existed for human sport. Christians were being killed for the faith they stood for, so when Paul tells them don’t forget why your still standing…it meant something.
and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. I Corinthians 15:1-2
Paul continues by saying not only does this important gospel, this most important thing in the world , the thing he has preached and that the people heard…not only is it by this we stand but by this we are saved if we hold fast to the Word, if we have faith in the Word.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. I Corinthians 15:1-3
Paul says this is it! This is the first importance, this is the most important thing I can tell you and that you can hear in the entirety of your life. Paul who has had his entire life changed says that the most important thing he can tell you is that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures.
that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. I Corinthians 15:1-4
Paul continues that not only is the truth that Jesus died for our sins according to the Bible the most important thing, but that this same Jesus also rose again from the dead. That is Easter. The most important thing Paul says in the world revolves around next Sunday. The truth of Jesus Christ as what needs to be told to each of us, what each of us must receive, what helps us stand each day, what saves us from hell is the good news of the gospel. The gospel translated literally means “good news.” It is this good news that Paul says is the most important thing.
So here we sit, one week away from Easter. One week away from the biggest day of remembrance that has ever existed and preach to you that there is nothing more important than the gospel. This gospel is what we believe, this gospel is what saved my family, this gospel is what The City Church is all about. Paul wanted everyone to remember that…
- The Gospel is the Good News
Everyone of us need good news and not just good advice. Good advice we can get from anyone and anywhere, but Good News only comes from God. The gospel is good news because it is that Jesus came and died for our sins, and rose again so that we can saved. Good news because we no longer have to go through life without hope destined for eternity in hell, but now with the gospel we are saved.
The gospel news doesn’t give you morality but rather transforms you from a sinner condemned to die and about to be punished to a sinner completely forgiven and accepted. It is not a new plan or some form of religion, it is the truth that we are destined to die, but God stepped in and fixed the problem.
The truth is that the gospel is God restoring what we broke. In Adam all die. Because Adam and Eve sinned we all are punished because sin is passed down. The gospel is that Christ forgives us and makes us his children instead of Adam’s kids.
- The Gospel must be Told
There is nothing more important than this good news, this gospel, this truth of God loving us enough to die for us, it must be told! Imagine if you had never seen the light? Imagine for a moment that you never heard of Jesus? What if all you knew was the dark world we live in? Nothing makes sense outside of God. Life is dark and gloomy…blinding.
We must be about telling others the gospel. That is why we have this Easter concert. I want everyone in Detroit to be here Friday night @7pm and again Saturday @6pm and again Easter Sunday @11am. If you have plans for something else, change them. You say why…because nothing else is more important than telling people the gospel. You need to be here to encourage others, you need to invite others to come with you because most likely they are nervous.
Two important questions must be asked and you must answer them after a talk like this one…the first question is “have you been saved?” Have you accepted this free gift of salvation that Jesus offers? If not, right now pray to God for forgiveness of sins and ask Him to be your Savior. Let’s take a moment…are you sure your going to heaven? If not, then right now settle it. Pray to God, “Dear God, I am a sinner. Please forgive me. I need you to save me. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. Please be my Savior. Amen.” If you just prayed this, welcome my friend to the family. You are my brother, you are my sister.
The Second question is…”Have you shared the gospel?” To those of you who know Jesus and are already saved, and to those of you that just prayed…have you shared the faith? Have you invited others? Have you witnessed? We must witness not because its our duty, but because we get to help save lives.
Giving someone a simple invite such as a flyer to come to a concert could be the very catalyst that starts a revolution of good. You sharing the good news with those closest to you and to those you have never met could be the very thing that helps saves lives and help lives here today and into eternity.
My prayer for you is that today you see how that eternity for many will be determined next week. If you need a reminder why…go ahead, hit rewind.