What Christ Cannot Do - Easter 2021

Easter Sunday Reminds Us Of The Eternal Power Of The Resurrection.

George Wright
Apr 4, 2021    35m
Easter Sunday is a perfect time to be reminded of the eternal power and promise of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this message, we learn that the Apostle Paul reminded his spiritual son, Timothy, of this in his letter to him found in Second Timothy chapter two. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:06 Well, I'm not sure what you expected on this Easter Sunday morning, but we're having some church in here today, and we're glad you're here to be with us. What a gift it is, what a gift it is to celebrate the good news, the tomb is empty, Jesus is alive, death has been defeated, sin has been overcome, and we have good news to share and good news to celebrate. What a difference a year makes. Jake mentioned this just a moment ago in his little welcome, but the reality that just a year ago, all around the world, the church was only online. We were confined to our homes, we were all spread out, we were longing for days like today. And what a gift it is to be gathered together in the name of Jesus this Easter. Easter is always special, but this year seems just a little bit more significant. Am I right? What a gift it is.

George Wright: 01:15 If you're joining us online right now, we're so thankful that you're joining us, but we want you to know there's some pretty exciting things happening in this room. And we're very grateful for the opportunity to share this day together as we turn our attention now to the Word of God. So let me encourage you to do just that, if you have a Bible, you can grab your Bible. If you've got the Bible app on your phone, you can pull that out. If you have neither, we're going to put the verses on the screen just to help you out. And we're going to be in Second Timothy chapter 2, I'm going to begin in verse 8. In light of all the challenges that we have faced, in light of all the changes that we have experienced, especially over this last year. It is such a joy, as we come together, to be able to gather in the name of Jesus and to stand on the Word of God, that is unchanging. So in light of that reality, let me invite you if you're willing and able to stand with me as I read from God here on this Easter Sunday morning, Second Timothy chapter 2, verse 8. And if you're new to Shandon, or you're joining us online, and you wonder why in the world are they standing up after they just sang and sat down, and now they're standing up again. Well, we're doing this so that we all can be reminded that when we turn our attention to the Word of God, we are turning our attention, please hear this, to the foundation of the people of God. We stand on the authority of God's Word, what God says is right and good and true, that which we need to hear.

George Wright: 02:53 And so we turn our attention now to his word, and the scripture says this, "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." This is the word of the Lord, this is Easter Sunday.

George Wright: 03:37 Let's pray, and let's ask God to speak into our lives as only he can in the power of his Spirit that is so clearly moving among us today. Let's pray, Father God, we stand before you now grateful for what we have already experienced and enjoyed in the good news of the message of Easter, that Jesus Christ is alive. And Lord, as we turn our attention to your word, it is my prayer that you would do what only you can do, that you would speak into each of our lives individually, as you speak to us corporately gathered in this room and gathered online, Lord, we need to hear from you. There is noise fighting for our attention every moment of every day, Lord, we need to hear the voice of God. And so I pray that you would speak into our lives, through your word and the power of your Spirit. Have your way among us this Easter morning, we pray. And we lift all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Savior. Amen. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing.

George Wright: 04:57 I just wonder if you have ever noticed that as the circumstances of our lives change, they often have a way of prohibiting us from remembering the things that matter most. Have you ever noticed how the circumstances of life can just have this way of kind of drowning out or blurring in the corner, the things that we say we value the most? Whether it's the flurry of activity and the busy-ness of life, that was so normal before March of 2020, as we were running in thousands of directions with full calendars and so much to do, the busy-ness of the circumstances of our life can certainly push to the side the things that we say matter the most. And then over this last year, we have all experienced one form or another how life's circumstances can change so dramatically and so quickly, and the changes of circumstance and the disruptions of our routines can cause us to lose sight of the things that matter the most.

George Wright: 06:17 So all throughout the scripture, all throughout the Word of God, Old Testament and New, we see this call to the people of God with a very simple word, remember. Remember. Remember the things that God has done. Remember what you have been invited into. Remember the things that God has said. Remember the gifts that you have been given. Remember what matters the most. Remember, remember, remember. We see one of those examples today in Second Timothy, when we step into this passage of God's Word. If you're new to Shandon or if you're joining us for the first time in a long while, we've been walking in recent weeks through Second Timothy. And what we see in this letter from the Apostle Paul to Timothy is a mentor speaking to his mentee. Paul is near the end of his life, he's been working hard, doing the work of the ministry, planting churches, serving the body of Christ, preaching the good news. And he's been through many struggles, many ups and downs. And he's writing to Timothy as Timothy is brand new, if you will, to the ministry. Timothy is in the midst of a very difficult season as this young man serving the Lord. He's got persecutions being thrown at him from people outside of the church, but inside the church, he's facing division, as people are choosing sides over certain issues in the church. It's a difficult season for Timothy and Paul knows it, and so Paul is writing this letter as an encouragement to Timothy. Paul knows that his time is coming to an end, and so he wants to encourage and challenge and give a pep talk, if you will, to young Timothy, at time when he needs it the most.

George Wright: 08:17 And he says, Timothy, remember, remember what God has done. Stand firm in your calling, stand firm in the faith, remember what God has done. What specifically is Timothy told to remember? Well, we see in verse 8, where we just began this message. Look back there at Second Timothy chapter 2 verse 8, "Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead." the scripture says. Then it says, "Remember that he is the offspring of David as preached in my gospel." Two things in verse 8 that Timothy is told to remember.

George Wright: 08:54 First, remember the resurrection of Jesus, remember Easter Sunday, remember why we celebrate when we gather on a beautiful day like today, remember what Christ has done. But let me ask you, why is the resurrection so important to the Christian faith? Why does this matter so much? Well, we're going to see this through the scripture, the resurrection is the proof of the gospel. The resurrection is the proof that the gospel is real, that that sin has not won the day, that death has not overcome life. No, the resurrection invites us to live as one who has been set free in the life of Jesus Christ.

George Wright: 09:44 Secondly, we are reminded the resurrection is not simply the proof of the gospel, it is also the power of the gospel. It is an invitation to live in the victory of the empty tomb, even in the midst of the struggles of this life, how we need to hear this. The resurrection is the power of the gospel that shows us there is hope, even when all hope appears to be lost. Death does not have the final say. But we also see, not only is the resurrection the proof of the gospel and the power of the gospel, the resurrection is the promise of the gospel. And the resurrection is a promise of things to come, it is the promise, not only of life here today, it is the promise of eternal life for all who are in Christ. The resurrection reminds us, don't lose sight of eternity, it's coming for everyone. What will it be like for you?

George Wright: 10:49 The resurrection of Jesus, the proof of the gospel, the power of the gospel, the promise of the gospel. Paul says, I remember the risen Savior, but not only that we see this statement about the lineage of Jesus. Paul is saying to Timothy in the midst of his challenging days, remember the lineage of Jesus. Why in the world is that important to those of us who grew up in didn't have a Jewish heritage or a Hebrew foundation, to those of us who may not be real familiar with the old covenant and what the Word of God says in the Old Testament? The lineage of Jesus is incredibly important, specifically to the Jewish people, because it's from this lineage of David, that the Messiah was promised. In fact, if you read Matthew's gospel at the beginning, you're going to see all these names that may sound strange. And you may read through this list of names going, why in the world is this here? Well, this list of names is here to show that the heritage, the lineage, that Jesus comes from.

George Wright: 11:59 Why does the lineage matter so much, please don't miss this, the Messiah was promised through David's seed, through the household of David. And as we remember the lineage of Jesus, that he comes from the household of David, we are implored to remember that God is the promise keeper, God fulfills his word, God always keeps his promises. And so Paul is saying to Timothy, I know right now it's a tough day, I know right now you're going through a struggle, but remember the power of the resurrected Savior and remember that God always keeps his promises. Oh, how we need to hear this today. Oh, how we need to be reminded, in the midst of struggles, in the midst of challenges, in the midst of so many things in our lives that feel uncertain, God always keeps his promises.

George Wright: 13:12 And, as the Apostle Paul is writing this letter to Timothy, not only does he know this is important for Timothy, but this is so personal for Paul as well. You see, as Paul writes this letter, he is a personal example of why it is so important to live with a gospel memory. See, as Paul writes this letter, we've talked about this in weeks past, as we've been walking through Second Timothy, he's writing this letter while he's sitting in a Roman prison cell, as one who has been arrested for proclaiming the gospel. And the reason why he was arrested, you can even look at this historically, in 64 AD Emperor Nero burned the city of Rome. Nero hated the church, he hated Christians, and when he burned the city of Rome, he blamed the Christians for starting the fire so that he could arrest and persecute and execute as many Christians as possible. And the Apostle Paul was one of the Christians arrested during this time. So here he is, as Rome has just burned, as persecution is mounting for the church. And he's writing this letter and he's saying, Timothy, what I'm imploring you to do is what I'm imploring my own heart to do, remember the power of the resurrection, and remember that God always keeps his promises. This is so incredibly important.

George Wright: 14:50 And go back to the scripture here in Second Timothy chapter 2 verse 9, this is Paul's testimony. It is this good news, this power of the resurrection that we need to remember, this lineage of Jesus that we need to remember. "For which I am suffering, he writes in verse 9, bound with chains as a criminal." Arrested for preaching the gospel, and then he says, "But the Word of God is not bound." The Word of God is not bound. "Therefore the scripture says, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." Paul is saying to Timothy, right now I am stuck in this prison cell, I don't know if I'll ever get out. In fact, it's just a few years after the writing of this letter, that Paul is executed as a martyr of the Christian faith. He's saying I'm stuck here in this prison, but please don't lose sight of this, Timothy, The gospel is not stuck, the gospel is not bound.

George Wright: 16:00 This is so important in our rapidly changing culture. I talk to many in the church who are very concerned about the changes that we're seeing in our culture, I am as well. Things are changing fast, and as these changes come, it appears more and more that the changes are positioning the culture to be more hostile to the people of God, and to the message of God's Word, and those who have the audacity to believe that the Bible is true. As these changes occur, it appears more and more that religious liberty, religious freedom, in this country is coming under attack, that is very discouraging to many. It's easy, it's easy to lose heart, it's easy to drift into despair, it's easy to be overwhelmed with discouragement. Will the changes in this culture stop the spread of the gospel? Will the changes in this culture silence the Word of God, if more and more freedoms are taken away?

George Wright: 17:19 Well, let me encourage you to turn quickly to Philippians 1, before we come back to Second Timothy. Philippians 1 verse 12 says this, as the apostle, Paul writes again, being very familiar with a prison cell. If you haven't picked up on the theme already, Paul spent a lot of time in prison, and it wasn't just because he was going to visit some prisoners, he was there as one in chains. And he says this in Philippians 1 verse 12, I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me (listen to this) has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ." And then listen to this, "And most of the brothers..." Paul says, not all, some have lost heart, "But most of the brothers of the faith have become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment and are now much more bold to speak the word without fear." This is an incredible thing to consider, especially in light of changes in our own culture. The Apostle Paul says, yes, I am in prison for preaching the gospel. Yes, I'm even suffering hardship for spreading the gospel, but don't lose sight of this, the church is actually becoming more embolden in the face of this struggle. And the Word of God is not bound, and the Word of God will not be silent. In fact, it is often thought the hardships, it is often through the struggles, that the Word of God spreads the most. Because as anyone who has faith has experienced, it's through those times of need, when we acknowledge we can't do it all on our own, we're not in total control, we've all been reminded of that over this last year, it's in those times of need that we see how desperately we need the promises of God to be true in our lives. It's through the hardships, the Word of God is not silenced, it actually spreads.

George Wright: 19:48 I was recently reading about some of the history of the persecution of Christians in the 1930s in communist Russia, under Joseph Stalin. In the 1930s, in Russia, Stalin declared Christians as enemies of the state. Many Christians were arrested and put in prison camps, many were killed for their faith. And Stalin ordered that every Bible that could be found in any household must be confiscated, for the Bible was seen as a threat to the nation, and certainly seen as a threat to communism. So thousands and thousands of Bibles were confiscated from households all throughout Russia during this time. But then fast forward over 60 years to the early nineties, when communism fell in Russia. When communism fell in Russia, when the walls came down, when the country became open in many ways for the first time in decades, there were some missionary organizations that went into Russia with the goal and the desire of distributing God's Word to the people, to anyone who would want it. But in those early days after communism fell, it was still very difficult to get Bibles shipped into Russia, it was very difficult to have enough Bibles to distribute to those who wanted one. There was a hunger and a desire among many to have a copy of the Word of God, and so mission agencies were doing whatever they could to try and distribute these Bibles.

George Wright: 21:35 And one specific agency called Co-mission became made aware through some locals in an area, that there was a warehouse on the outside of this particular city in Russia that contained thousands of those Bibles that had been confiscated. And they were given permission from the authorities to go to that warehouse and see if Bibles were in fact there, and if they were to then distribute them to whoever wanted one at the time. And so they went and literally found thousands upon thousands of Bibles stacked in this warehouse, so they begin to try and distribute them, but it was more than they could handle with their little missionary organization, and so they hired some local college students from Russia to come and help with the distribution.

George Wright: 22:27 And on one particular day, a young college student showed up to help load some trucks with these Bibles, he was an agnostic, he did not have faith really at all, he was very skeptical to the message of Christianity, but he needed some money and this was an easy way to get it. And so he said, I'll go pass out these Bibles if I get paid to do so. And as they were loading these trucks to distribute Bibles in the area, that young agnostic college student grabbed one of those Bibles and just kind of slid off into the corner of the warehouse to see for himself what he might find in God's Word. And when the team members of that missionary organization found this young college student, he was sitting on the ground, weeping in tears with the Bible opened up after seeing the inside cover, where there was handwritten script of his grandmother's name. The very Bible that he had picked up, was his grandmother's Bible. And underneath her name, she had written her personal prayers for her family, and for those who would come after her to experience the love of God and to trust in Jesus Christ, even as she was being persecuted. The Word of God is not bound.

George Wright: 24:14 And I know this may be hard for some of you to believe, some of you are here today, because just like that young college students in Russia finding his grandmother's Bible and seeing her prayers for her family and understanding in that moment that her prayers were being answered as he held that Bible, some of you today, please hear this, you are here this morning on Easter Sunday because some people who love you greatly have been praying for you. I know it's easy to believe you're just here because it's something you're supposed to do to make a family member happy, so you can go to Easter brunch. And in fact, you're wondering, when are we going to end so I can go eat? But I want you to know you're not just here to fulfill an obligation, you are here because someone who loves you has been praying for you. They want you to see and know how much God loves you. They want you to understand that what they have placed their life on, this power of the resurrection, can be yours as well. They want you to see and know what Christ has done for you in a real and personal way. The Word of God is not bound, the Word of God will not be silenced, and the Word of God is speaking to those who are willing to listen here today.

George Wright: 25:50 We turn back to Second Timothy chapter 2 verse 11, we see this, "The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him." Now, here in these final couple of verses that we will consider this morning, the Apostle Paul is just laying out the gospel yet again, he does this all throughout his writing, over and over and over again, he returns to the gospel again, that we would remember what matters the most. And here he is saying, look at the gift of salvation, look at the power of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived perfect and sinless life, he took your sin and my sin on his back at the cross, and through the power of his resurrection, sin and death has been defeated. And so Paul says in light of this, if we die to ourselves, what does that mean? It means if we are willing to say in faith, I cannot save myself, I've tried, but I am not the God of my life. I want to be, but I know I'm not in control. If I die to myself, if I acknowledge I cannot save myself, I need a Savior. Paul says, then you will live with him in power and in his forgiveness and grace. That's the gift of salvation, that's what Jesus Christ has done for you.

George Wright: 27:49 But the message continues, in verse 12 it says this, "If we deny him, he will deny us: If we are faithless, he remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself." And what does this mean? Well, at first glance, these verses actually appear to be at odds. If we deny him, he'll deny us; If we are faithless, he's actually faithful, that seems to be at odds. What is this saying? Well, the Word of God is making it explicitly clear here that Jesus truly is our only hope, and if you deny Jesus, you are on your own to stand before God. And if you deny Jesus and are on your own to stand before God, the only thing that you can bring before God is the things that you yourself have done to try and earn, achieve, or accomplish your way into God's favor, to which the Word of God says, it's absolutely impossible. The standard of God's law is perfection, and the only way to stand right before God is in perfect righteousness and perfect holiness. If you deny Jesus, you're standing before God on your own, because the only way to stand before God and be called righteous is if you bring perfect righteousness to the table, you and I can't do that in our sin, in our stumbling, in our struggles, we can't do that. But the good news of the gospel is the holiness and the righteousness that is required to stand before God has been offered to us through Jesus Christ and his resurrection.

George Wright: 29:55 This is what Easter is all about, his death on the cross covers our sin, his resurrection invites us into the gift of new life, in his perfect righteousness and holiness. And even when we stumble, even when we wander away, even in those days when we're overcome with doubts or fears, even when we struggle and are faithless, he is faithful. And I love this, for the scripture says, "He cannot deny himself." He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore, and anyone who trusts in Jesus as their Savior and their Lord, no matter what they've done, no matter how far they feel like they have been from God, if they trust their life to Jesus, they are welcomed home into the gift of his love and grace. Because the perfect Savior, don't miss this, will never deny who he is. He is the Savior, that's who he is. And the Savior is willing to save anyone who will not deny him, but will trust him. He will never deny one who places their faith in him, because he cannot deny who he is as the Savior to all who trust him.

George Wright: 31:40 Are you living in such a way that you are denying who he is, denying this good news that we have gathered to celebrate? Or are you living in such a way that the faithfulness of God, and the promises of God, are being fulfilled in you through the gift of Jesus Christ, who will never deny himself, and will never deny you or me, if we acknowledge our need for the Savior. This is the good news of Easter, that Jesus will not deny anyone who trusts in him because he will not deny who he is. He is the one who has defeated sin and death and risen from the grave, he is the savior, he is the Lord, and he invites you into the gift of new life that he alone can provide.

George Wright: 32:47 Let's pray together as we consider the good news of Easter. Heavenly Father, it is such a joy and such a privilege to gather together, to worship, to lift our voices, to engage with such beautiful song, and to step into your word on this Easter Sunday and remember, remember the gift of what you have done. Lord, I pray that as we leave this place, we would not leave with a short memory, but we would leave with a gospel memory, that guides us to stand on the good news of who you are and what you have done.

George Wright: 33:30 But Lord, as we celebrate, we recognize there are many joining us, both online and in this room today, that are aware of Easter, they know about Easter, they've heard some things about Jesus, but Lord, if they are honest, they are actually denying you, right now they're actually far from you. But Lord, you are pursuing them with your love. They have been prayed for over and over again, there are people that love them, that want them to know of how great your love is for them. And Lord, I pray that this Easter Sunday would be the day where they would see and experience in a real and personal way, the good news of the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that is offering them forgiveness and life. And to that end Lord, I just invite them, even now, in their own heart to just say, Jesus, I'm ready, I'm ready to trust you. I've tried a lot of things, I've tried my own way, but Lord, I'm ready to trust you. Forgive me, I'm ready to turn from my ways, and turn to you as my Savior and my Lord.

George Wright: 34:55 Oh, how grateful we are that through the power of the resurrection, the gift of salvation has been made available to anyone who in faith trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Oh, how we celebrate this good news. Oh, how grateful we are for Easter Sunday. Thank you for the power, the gift of life, that you have laid before us in Jesus Christ our Lord. It's in his name, I pray. Amen. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206