Being a warm weather fan, spring is a welcomed time of the year for me. Personally, I’d rather perspire profusely than shiver and shake. Most importantly, though, this season brings us to the time on our Christian calendar when we set our hearts to reflect upon the holiest days of our salvation.
Throughout the year the events of Good Friday and Christ’s blessed atonement are proclaimed from many pulpits. The curious thing is that too often we wait until the Easter season to really emphasize Jesus’ Resurrection. Why? It is probably more habit than anything. However, it appears that for far too many His resurrection power is the most under-emphasized ingredient in the message. Is this missing ingredient the reason for so many defeated and powerless lives in American Christianity?
Think about it. We present an incomplete Gospel when we fail to preach and teach Jesus’ Resurrection as much as His Passion. Both events are historical facts and both should be addressed when we present the Gospel, the good news message of Jesus Christ.
One of my personal pet peeves is that any depiction of Jesus still upon the cross slightly annoys me. As Christians, we know His work is done and His Cross is empty. However, we also know an empty tomb is there to prove our Savior lives! We must proclaim it continuously.
Empty is also how we can describe all our preaching about our Savior’s bloodshed and subsequent remission of our sins if we fail to proclaim an empty tomb. If not for His Resurrection, our faith would be empty and we would still be in our sins. But we can proclaim a full Gospel consisting of an empty cross and an empty tomb, which results in full salvation! Because our Savior lives we stand victorious over death, hell, sin, and the grave. Moreover, because He lives we can have His Holy Spirit power to live as witnesses of this glorious Gospel.
I am reminded of the words of an old hymn made popular again in recent years as Glorious Day and its chorus present our story:
Living, he loved me; dying, he saved me;
Buried, he carried my sins far away;
Rising, he justified freely, forever:
One day he’s coming—O, glorious day!
First Corinthians 15 (the chapter these thoughts are derived from) reminds us in verse 20, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits…” Being first means there are much more to come. All who are in Christ will one day be a part of that great resurrection day when “the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Our great commission is to add to those who will partake in this glorious resurrection.
April is a special month for the ministry department called Mission USA, which I serve on behalf of our organization of congregations known as the Congregational Holiness Church, Inc. Each April, we ask individuals and local churches for a special First Fruits Offering. This yearly investment is a way of affirming our belief in the power of our resurrected Lord to change lives. If you’d like to know how to participate in this First Fruits Offering, please contact me. In twenty-first century America, it takes real money to do real ministry and we greatly appreciate your help.
We Christians would do well to remember that we serve our risen Lord best by working alongside each other in this plentiful harvest. He has given us His Spirit to empower our service. And by His grace, we believe that greater things have yet to come for the Kingdom of God in America. As you pray to the Lord of the harvest, would you please remember us, Mission USA, and this First Fruits Offering? Thanks so much.