Today is another Sunday. First of all let me just say I am using Sunday morning as an example but I hope you realize you are the church 24/7. Over the years the church has become something we go to and not something we are. People stop going to church saying what is wrong with the church but fail to repent because we are the church and are supposed to be one with Jesus. Then we can start being the true church once again. We can tend to get in the habit of going to church and not expecting anything to happen. Have you noticed that Sunday’s can become a little bit ritualistic? There is the story of “A wife who went to wake her husband for church one Sunday morning. When she knocked on his door, he said, “I’m not going!” “Why not?” asked his wife. “I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One, they don’t like me. Two, I don’t like them.” His wife replied, “I’ll give you two good reasons why YOU WILL go to church. One, you’re 47 years old. Two, you’re the pastor!” So we have to ask a few questions of ourselves. Do we really prepare for this time of worship and reflection and teaching? We only do this once a week other than our bi-weekly bible studies. Are we really prepared to gather together as the body of Christ and worship? Do we really anticipate? Do we really participate? We sing, we listen, we fellowship and then we go. Do we go home and continue to worship and digging deep? The sermons are there for continual study into the word. Week after week, month after month, year after year Christians gather but what if Jesus came that one-day. Let me be clear I am not talking about the return of Jesus here but an example to get us thinking about the condition we are in before God. His word is with us but are we listening? Do we take the word and change or does it just go in one ear and out the other? Remember we are all accountable because the word always serves its purpose. Are we thinking this is just another Sunday? I hope the game is good this afternoon. I need a nap! The oven better come on so we can have lunch. Did I even set the timer? Do the pets have water? Wow this is going to be a busy week.
There can be so many things going on in our minds that we are totally distracted from hearing God’s word. What would happen if on a particular Sunday you changed things up and started asking do I really believe in Jesus? Do I believe that he answers prayer? Do I believe there is really power available to all who believe? Am I really seeking God with my life? Do I really believe the bible is God’s word? Am I really willing to wait on Him to be clothed with power? Yes it easy to get distracted before a Sunday morning. Whether that day is today or this week or a day down the road, what if Jesus himself stood among us? How would He find us? Would we be heading in the right direction or heading in the wrong direction. Are our heads up or down? Jesus himself said, Luke 18:8 “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Or will we be like the Thessalonians when Paul said, 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain. 6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love.” So if Jesus showed up one Sunday morning what would the report be? My concern is that he would say the same thing He said to His disciples. Would He rebuke us for our lack of faith and our stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. Do we actually believe the word of God?
I want to read another passage that talks about a special day. The first was Mark 16 that we already read. The second will be Luke 24. This day was an absolutely amazing day that is beyond what simple words could describe. A lot happened on that same day. The salvation for those who would believe, had risen from the dead just as he said he would. Now picture if you will something that may be hard for some. Everyone is touched by death at one point or another. Before I go on this teaching for the believer is crucial but for many Christians the sting of death still prevails, so we have to ask do we really believe. John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Do most Christians actually believe this? What would Jesus say to each of us about this? But let me go on with my example. Say your loved one has been killed in an accident or by some form of foul play. They are now dead and the funeral has taken place and they have been buried. Three days later they appear to you alive. There are probably more people that would believe in zombies than people actually rising from the dead. This would also include the lack of belief that Jesus rose from the dead. Now just to make this example real, check out these passages. 2 Kings 13:21 “Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.” Matthew 27:51 “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” Yes there would be some initial shock, but how great would that be. You would say it would be life changing especially for them. Would you reject them or embrace them with great joy? See for most hearing something like this leads to doubt almost immediately. Would you want to know about the power that raised them or would we just write it off and ignore it as so many have done with Jesus? Ephesians 1:19 “His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.” Do you know there are people today that even deny the fact that Jesus raised people to life? Sadly many Christians just are not interested in knowing about this available power that can conquer even death. Luke 7:22 “So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” This is the gospel message so why is so hard for Christians to expect the same. When you gather as the church or are the church through the week, do you expect this or is this just an old, old story that you love to tell.
We read Mark 16:9 What stands out is the power that is available but also the unbelief concerning the power. “They did not believe it.” They did not believe them either. He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” Luke 24:3 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. 36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
What a day it was. That same day he had risen form the dead just as he said, he appeared to the women, the two and the disciples. But in the midst of joy there was doubt. Later on Matthew 28:16 “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” The whole day was marked by power, promise hope, doubt and unbelief. The Matthew 28 passage was even after Jesus Acts 1:3 presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.” How sad for them that they still doubted. Acts 1:15 “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)” What happened to the 500 he appeared to and gave convincing proofs. Busy, no time for the Messiah, What was it. The answer is unbelief. Some just could not get past it and did not hold on. 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” Notice the verse that said, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”
Today there are many believing in vain because they have not held on to the word of God. They have turned right and left and have veered off the highway of holiness. They have not been believed and have been persuaded to follow another gospel that is not what Jesus taught and Paul continued to teach. Our job is to continue as Paul said to Timothy.
2 Timothy 3:10 “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
So on this day, do you believe? We cannot have this peace unless we really believe. In closing we are going to sing It is well with my soul. It will never be well with your soul unless you believe. One day there will be a day where 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” Remember 1 Corinthians 15:52 “we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1 “Now, brothers and sisters about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Romans 13:11 [ The Day Is Near ] “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Revelation 3:3 “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”
The best way to be prepared is to believe. Don’t buy into the powerless church. Stand firm on the word of God and you will be saved. Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” To be prepared we need to ask Is it well with our souls? There can be no unbelief in the answer.