The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem. Discovered in 1867. Hebrews 13:12 states that “Jesus suffered outside the city gate”, which the Garden Tomb is. unlike the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is within them.
The Gathering, April 1, 2018 Pastor Barry, Easter Sunday
“April Fools!” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of All Fools’ Day, which has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures; its exact origins remain a mystery. April Fools’ Day is all about playing practical jokes on each other. There is no doubt that many of you today have been pranked already. Has anyone been tricked into going to church this morning?
How ironic that Resurrection Sunday falls on this day and not since1956. It won’t happen again until 2029. I think that would be a great day for Jesus Christ to return for his church! I’ll be 67 years old then… Actually, he may still come today! I think today would be even a better day for Jesus to come for his church. How about you? Just imagine all of those foolish unbelievers looking up after all of us believers have been taken up into his everlasting arms. “April fools!” We could all shout, but it wouldn’t be very funny for those left behind. For the day of the believer’s rapture is the beginning of God’s wrath on unbelievers( Revelation 6:15-17).
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but in an instant, 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 Corinthians 15:51-52
“Changed!” Just as Jesus Christ was changed at his resurrection! This is the glorious promise that we believers celebrate on Easter Sunday and throughout the year! God is alive forever and we who believe will also be with him. Do you believe?
“God is dead!”
Friedrich Nietzsche (FREED-rik NEE-Chuh) didn’t believe. He was an Influential German philosopher (1844-1900) and celebrated for his writings on the end of religion in modern society and the concept of a “super-man.” He is famous for saying “God is dead. God remains dead and we have killed him.” Friedrich believed that men of science and philosophy like himself had proved that there was no God and therefore he was dead. His writings have influenced many major thinkers and writers of the 20th century and continue to do so today.
Charles Darwin (1809 –1882) didn’t believe. He is often cited as the greatest biologist in history. His most famous work, on the Origin of Species, explains the theory of evolution by natural selection, providing numerous supporting examples, but let us not forget the many missing links as well. His thinking and writing on the subject of evolution and natural selection caused him to reject the evidence for God in nature and ultimately to renounce the Bible, God, and the Christian faith. Young Charles was brought up to pray, and as a young man he studied three years in theological studies at Christ’s College, Cambridge with the intention of going into the ministry. Inevitably, the more Darwin studied the works of unbelievers and ultimately convinced himself of his own theories, the less he accepted the Bible as the divinely inspired Word of God. According to Darwin he renounced the Christian faith at age 40. Forty years later he wrote:
“I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation, and therefore not in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.”
Charles Darwin died two years later on April 19, 1882, at the age of 73
Steven Hawking (1942-2018) didn’t believe. The world famous physicist died this month. He became world renown when he published A Brief History of Time (1988) which sold 10 million copies and was written in 40 languages. The avowed atheist said:
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”
Stephen Hawking had lots of company among his peers with respect to atheism. According to surveys, as many as 93% of top-tier scientists do not believe in God. In comparison, about 83% of Americans believe in God.
The Fool… Psalms 14:1b-4, 5, 1 Corinthians 1:18-21, Romans 1:20
The psalmist, David, (who defeated the godless giant Goliath with faith in God: 1 Samuel 17:1-52) wrote that the fool says in his heart “there is no God.” Regardless of one’s learning, fame, accomplishments or prestige, “the Lord looks down from heaven” and says I Am (Exodus 3:14, John 8:24) and the unbeliever is a fool, but God is present in the company of the righteous. (What company are you keeping?)
The Apostle Paul (the learned Pharisee who once persecuted Christians and later testified that Jesus sent him to proclaim the gospel to the gentiles: Acts 22:1-21) said: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). To those in Corinth he said: That through the preaching of the cross “God has made foolish the wisdom of the world” ( 1 Corinthians 1:20).
How is it that the more educated one becomes the less likely he or she is to believe in God? Perhaps the more “advanced you become in thinking or acting like you are a monkey on a minor planet of a very average star”— instead of believing that you are a child made in the image of God on a uniquely created planet—you become an absolute idiot surrounding yourself with other self important absolute idiots. Has our learning taken us so far into black holes that we fail to see the God revealed before our very eyes? (Romans 1:20)
Witnesses Luke 24:1-12, 36-39, 45, 48-53, Matthew 28:16-20
Why look for the living among the dead? Nietzsche, Darwin and Hawking are all dead and so also is an endless list of the damned throughout the history of man. Why be among them?
I look to those disciples who also once thought the resurrection to be nonsense until they saw Jesus resurrected. It was then Jesus who opened their minds to understand. It was Jesus who made them witnesses to later proclaim the gospel with his power from on high! It was Jesus who inspired those men and women to die as martyrs for the truth they told and it was Jesus who took them home! I am now a witness of his work in my own life. How about you?
As Jesus even ascended before their eyes some worshipped and others doubted. To believe will always be a choice and the only choice rewarded. He’s Alive…No Fooling! BELIEVE!