||Against All Odds
||An Empty Tomb; A Full Life
Hello and welcome to this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary, Albuquerque. We pray that God uses this message to reach people around the world with his love. If this message encourages you, we'd love to hear about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give.
In our series, Against All Odds, we've examined the remarkable nature of predictive prophecy; considering the chances of one person in history fulfilling the precise forecasts about the Messiah. In this Easter message, we rejoice that death has been conquered by the same predicted one, whose life, death, and resurrection set him apart from anyone else. Now, we invite you to open your Bibles to Acts chapter 22 as Skip begins the message, An Empty Tomb; A Full Life.
Hey, would you turn in your Bibles please to the book of Acts; the second chapter of the book of Acts. So a Sunday school teacher was telling her third graders about the Resurrection, and then she asked them a question. She goes, OK, students, does anyone here know the first words Jesus said when he left the tomb? And little Bethany shot her hand up in the back. She goes, I know, I know. And so she stood up and said, Jesus' first words when he came out of the tomb-- and she opened her arms up-- were this, ta-da!
I always liked that story. Ta-da. From time to time when I travel, I like to-- if I have spare moments-- go to cemeteries and read the inscriptions on the gravestones. You might think, you are a weird person. But I love to see what either they have made sure was written about them, or what loved ones had to say about them. Some are quite lengthy; some are very minimal. But some of them are funny. And I did a little research. And these are recorded, registered inscriptions on gravestones. Let me just share a few with you.
This is from Niagara Falls, Canada. It reads on the tombstone, here lies the body of Jonathan Blake, who stepped on the gas instead of the brake. Well that's one way to always remember that he died in an automobile accident, I suppose. Another one from Edinburgh, Scotland was the grave of a local dentist. And the stone reads, stranger, tread this ground with gravity. Dennis Brown is filling his last cavity.
And here's one from Ruidoso, New Mexico that reads, here lies Johnny Yeast-- that's his name, Johnny Yeast-- here lies Johnny Yeast, pardon me for not rising.
If there was an inscription over the Tomb of Jesus Christ, it might have been appropriate if it read, don't worry I'm just borrowing this for the weekend. Because he only was in that grave just a part of three days, and then he rose again from the dead. Well that is one of the themes-- [SMATTERING APPLAUSE] Yes, it's worth celebrating. You can't clap too much for that truth.
In Acts chapter 2, that is the main theme of Peter's sermon. It is a sermon on the day of Pentecost. It is Peter's first sermon that is recorded in the Bible. And what's interesting is that while this is Peter's first sermon, this is our last sermon in the series, Against All Odds. So I'm just going to rip Peter off and let him preach the last sermon in the series. We're going to take a portion of what he said and we're going to examine it in Acts chapter 2.
Now, let me just say, as a preacher, I'm going to give Peter an A on his preaching exam. This is his first sermon. He gets an A; not that he cares what I think. But I give him an A for two reasons. Number one, 3,000 people respond to his message and get saved that day. That's a good message. 3,000 people.
And number two, because it was a message filled with hope. Filled with hope because it's about the fact that Jesus conquered death through resurrection. Now, I want you to think of Peter for just a moment. We know what Peter did. What was his occupation? He was a fisherman. So he had what a lot of men like that around the Sea of Galilee had. He had a few boats and nets, and he'd get up every day, and he'd fish for fish, and it was a very meager kind of a life. It was a very predictable life. In many ways a monotonous life. I'm even sure that Peter looked over the Sea of Galilee in a few days and thought, is this all there is to life? Is this it? I'm born, I die. In between I catch a few fish, period.
But then, one day-- one day, a man named Jesus stepped into his life and said, follow me and I will make you become fishers of men. And in hanging around Jesus, watching him, hearing him day after day, something happened in Peter's heart. It's called hope. Hope. It was a hope that began to grow and grow and grow, and he thought, man, this is the life. Watching him perform miracles. And what he's saying, nobody has done anything like this. He was greatly impacted.
But then one day, something happened that shattered all of Peter's hopes. And that was Jesus died on the cross. Peter did not expect that. The day Jesus died, Peter's hope died. It's like those disciples on the road to Emmaus who said about Jesus, and we were-- past tense-- we were hoping that he would have been the one to deliver Israel.
So Peter went from an all-time high to an all-time low until the third day. And that first day of the week, that Sunday when Jesus rose from the grave and showed himself to Peter. Now Peter's hope-- well, it could be called, a living hope. That's what Peter called it. Peter said in first Peter, chapter 3, he said, according to His abundant mercy, He has begotten us again to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." The day of the Resurrection, Peter's hope came alive and stayed alive.
On that day, on Resurrection Sunday, Peter's life moved from hopeless living into a living hope. And that becomes the theme of this sermon that we're looking at. And again, we're not going to look at all of it, just a portion of his sermon. But Peter has a premise. He's speaking about Jesus. That's the main subject of his sermon. It's always good to have Jesus as the main subject of a preacher's sermon. Jesus is the main subject, but what Peter wants to show is that this man Jesus was a man, but not an ordinary man. He was the God man. That He was unique from all other people in history. He was not normal. He was supranormal. He was not ordinary. He was extraordinary. He was, in fact, God's predicted Messiah fulfilling all of the Old Testament prophecies.
And so Peter gives three lines of evidence for this. And they're simple. Jesus' life, Jesus' death, and Jesus' resurrection. That's what he looks at in a few verses. His miraculous life, his meaningful death, his magnificent resurrection. Go to Acts chapter 2 and look at the 22nd verse. Just one verse to begin with. Here, Peter zeros in on the life of Jesus when he says, men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did through him in your midst as you yourselves know.
Jesus' miracles got people's attention. It's easy to figure out why. They never had seen a miracle before. People got sick, people died. There were blind people around, there were deaf people around. People got hungry. Then Jesus shows up. And he touches people who are blind. Suddenly, they can see. Deaf people-- suddenly, they can hear. It got people's attention. And it was to them overwhelming evidence that Jesus was who He claimed to be.
And the New Testament records over 30 miracles that Jesus performed where He suspended natural law and enacted supernatural force. He had power over disease, He had power over deformities, He had power over demons, He had power over death. He miraculously showed power giving evidence of who He was. And Jesus Himself appealed to His power-- His own power. He said this, John 14, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or at least, believe on the evidence of the miracles themselvess."
Then, Jesus said in John, chapter 10, "The works that I do in my father's name, they bear witness of me." Sort of like saying, nobody else can do what I've just done. Nobody else is out there performing miracles. I am; and it shows that I am who I claim to be. So He appealed to his miraculous life. Even Nicodemus, who came to Jesus at night, said, "We know that God is with you for no man can do the signs that you do unless God is with him." And for that matter, the most bitter enemies that Jesus had were forced to admit that He had miraculous power after Christ raised Lazarus from the dead.
His detractors in Jerusalem said, what shall we do? For this man works many signs. They had heard of them, they had seen them, there was evidence all around them. Simon Greenleaf, who was once a lawyer and at one time the professor of Law at Harvard University said, and I quote, "A person who rejects Christ may choose to say that he does not accept it, but he may not choose to say there is not enough evidence," close quote.
Jesus' miraculous life, as attested by the New Testament historians, prove that God's power was uniquely operating in Him. And if He can do those miracles, then He can do the greatest miracle. You know what that is? Save someone. What greater miracle could there be than getting a person from Earth to heaven? That's the biggest miracle ever. And if Jesus can unstop deaf ears and open blind eyes and raise people who were dead back to life, then He can do the greatest miracle. And that is get a person from Earth to heaven by salvation.
A while back, a girl approached me. She had been at our Wednesday night Bible study. We were going through the Old Testament. And the text that I read, one of the texts in that evening Bible study says, "The Lord saved Israel on that day." She got so excited. And I'm trying to listen; trying to figure out why she is so excited that that text made so much difference. The Lord saved Israel on that day. And she goes, I was praying for my boyfriend; and my boyfriend came forward that Wednesday night at the altar call. I go, well that's great. I'm trying to think, what does that have to do with the text? God saved Israel that day. And I said, well that's great. And she goes, no you don't understand. My boyfriend's name is Israel. The Lord saved Israel on that day; and that day he gave his life to Christ. She saw a miracle. She'd been praying for that for a long time.
And I get the privilege of watching people every week say yes to the Savior, and have Him immediately and eternally change their lives. So His miraculous life-- that's Peter's first line of evidence. Second, Jesus' meaningful death-- verse 23. Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, "You have taken, by lawless or wicked hands have crucified and put to death."
Now, at first blush, it would seem unthinkable, unimaginable, that a man of that caliber like Jesus Christ could even die. I mean, think about it, the very one who raised people back to life died? Unstopped deaf ears, walked on water, fed the multitudes. So Peter wants to make it clear that just as Jesus' life was no ordinary life, his death was no ordinary death. In fact, do you notice in one verse how Peter approaches it from two different angles? It was God's foreordained plan, but you by your lawless or wicked hands have crucified and slain.
So on one hand, Jesus' death was a vicious plot. On the other hand, it was a victorious plan. God ordained it. So we have both those elements together. Divine sovereignty-- God purposed it. Human responsibility. You did it. All in one verse. There's an age old question I've been asked time and time again. The question goes like this, who's responsible for the death of Jesus Christ? Is it the Romans? Is it the Jewish leaders? Is it Judas Iscariot who betrayed him? Is it Pontius Pilate who gave him the sentence? Is it the false witnesses who accused him before the Sanhedrin? Answer? Yes. All of the above.
But wait, you've left someone out. Me. I'm responsible. You. You're responsible. Because Jesus died for our sins. But wait, you left somebody out. God. God. It says, who being, verse 23, "delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God." What that tells me is God predetermined it. It was part of his plan all along. All along.
For years there has been a theory about Jesus' death and resurrection. That it was all part of a plot. In fact, there was a book out years ago called, The Passover Plot that says Jesus' death was staged by Him, and His Resurrection was also staged by Him. That Jesus had one of His followers give Him water laced with a drug that would render Him unconscious but not dead. And then He had another friend of His, Joseph of Arimathea, stick Him in a tomb and nursed Him back to health, because He was still alive.
Though I don't agree with that theory at all, I do agree with the premise. It was part of a plot. But it wasn't a plot hatched by Jesus or Joseph of Arimathea or a few followers. It was a plot hatched in heaven by God Himself, who determined in advance that His son would come into this world; part of a divine plan. So in summing up the death of Jesus, let me make a few statements.
Jesus' death was a strategy. A divine strategy. He is called in Revelations 13, "The lamb slain from the--" do you know the rest of it? "Foundations of the world." From the very beginning of time, it was part of the plan of God, the purpose of God, that His son would be crucified. So it was a strategy. It was also voluntary. Jesus didn't get caught and taken to court where He said, aw man, bummer. I got caught. No, He didn't get caught. And this is not an accident. And it wasn't that He was just murdered by them. He chose to do it. It was voluntary. He said that He was the good shepherd and the good shepherd lays His life down for the sheep.
He even made this statement, No one takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself. I have the power-- listen to what He said, I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it back up again. So His death was a strategy, and His death was voluntary. But there's more.
His death was substitutionary. Jesus didn't die for His own sin. Because He didn't have any sin. He was the only one that lived a perfect life from beginning to end. Never committed a single sin in His life. No, He died as a substitution for others. Isaiah the prophet put it this way, "All we like sheep have gone astray, but God laid on Him the iniquity of us all." So His death was a strategy. It was voluntary, and it was substitutionary.
Another statement I want to make about it is that Jesus' death was necessary. Had to happen if the obstacle between us and God was going to be removed. It was absolutely necessary. There is this separation that mankind has from God. You may not know about it. You may not feel it, but it's there. It's called your sin, and my sin. And that roadblock can only be removed by that atoning death on the cross.
Romans chapter 5, Paul says, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His son. That is, we were reconciled. The roadblock, the obstacle, was removed so that one party and the other party can be reconciled or brought together. They're brought together by the removal of an obstacle. That's what the word reconciliation means. So His death was necessary.
Now, although it was God's plan from the very beginning, as stated here by Peter, it doesn't make the ones who put Jesus on the cross any less guilty. Because it was their choice. They chose to be in that crowd and shout, crucify Him! Pilot chose to listen to the persuasive voices of the crowd and say, OK. Take him to the place of execution. Everybody that day made a choice. And today, you have a choice to make.
What are you going to do with Jesus Christ? You can say, well I don't plan on really doing anything with Jesus Christ, thank you. I'm just going to wait and see what happens. I'm just going to live my life as I live my life. I'm not going to do anything. I'm not going to accept Him, I'm not going to reject Him. But you know what Jesus said? That if you don't receive Him, you've rejected Him. If you don't receive Him, you've rejected Him. You either are either for me, He said, or you are against me. So if you say, well I'm not for Jesus, then and Jesus' view, you're already against Him. You have a choice to make.
And then, I want to makes one final statement before we get into the third vital point of Peter and His line of evidence. And that is Jesus' death was a victory. And you know why it was a victory? Because He didn't stay dead. Pretty simple, right? He didn't stay dead. Remember the old saying, you can't keep a good man down? Well, you can't keep the God man down. They put Him in a grave, but three days later, He got up from that tomb. His resurrection conquered death. It was a victory.
So that's Peter's line of evidence in two short verses to them. His miraculous life, His meaningful death. Now, he goes to the third line of evidence. That Jesus is different than anyone else, and that is His resurrection. His miraculous resurrection. Now I want you to notice how important the Resurrection is. There are nine verses that Peter uses to speak about the Resurrection. Now think of it. He has used one verse to speak about Jesus' whole life, one verse to speak about Jesus' atoning death, and nine verses to speak about His resurrection. Why? Because it's that important. Because that's the theme of His sermon. That's the theme of every sermon in the book of Acts. That is really, essentially, the theme of the New Testament. The culmination of all redemptive history is the Resurrection.
So Peter says, verse 24, after speaking of His life and His death, "Whom God raised up having loosed the pangs of death because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David said concerning Him, 'I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken. Therefore, my heart rejoiced, my tongue was glad. Moreover, my flesh will also rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul in Hades nor will you allow your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life. You will make me full of joy in your presence."
That's the quote. Peter's quoting a psalm, Psalm 16. He in his sermon is preaching from the Bible-- in this case, Psalm 16. Now look at his application, "Men and brethren let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David," that is the one who wrote the psalm, "that He is both dead and buried and His tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet and knowing that God has sworn with an oath to Him that of the fruit of His body according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on the throne. He, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the Resurrection of the Christ or the Messiah. That His soul was not left in Hades nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus, God has raised up of which we are all witnesses." You know, the world has noticed that we make a big deal out of Easter. I was walking my dogs yesterday and somebody recognized me and he said, well, tomorrow's your big day.
I smiled and I thought, well, you know, I'm not really doing much. I'm just showing up. It's already been done. But thank you. Yeah, it's your big day tomorrow, and good luck, he said. Good luck.
You want to know why we make such a big deal out of Easter? And by the way, we do. We make a huge deal out of it. We like to party hardy on Easter. We like to have the stadium fulfilled and have joyous music. Because to us, Easter is like the World Series and the Super Bowl and the Balloon Fiesta all rolled up into one.
And it's simple why.
It's because as Paul said, without the Resurrection, we're hopeless. Without the Resurrection, we're dead in our sins. Without the Resurrection, we just die. And it's over. Period. We're like everybody else that lives without hope. And he said in 1 Corinthians 15, "If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable." His point is that our hope goes way beyond it. That's why we celebrate it. We don't just celebrate it once a year, by the way. We celebrate it every Sunday. The whole reason the church doesn't meet on Saturday, the Sabbath, but on Sunday, is because of the Resurrection. It's a weekly celebration.
Look at verse 24 for just a moment. Look at how Peter phrases it. I love this fisherman's sermon-- "Whom god raised up having loosed the pangs of death," now look at this-- "because it was not possible that He should be held by it." You know, that makes perfect sense. That is pure logic. The one who said, I am the Resurrection and the life can't be held by death. The one who had no beginning can't have an end. The one who caused all things to exist cannot Himself cease to exist. Perfect logic. It's impossible. Death cannot hold the author of life. It's not possible that He could be held by it.
Now when Peter was preaching, he was aware that he had a Jewish audience. He was also aware that they knew and had seen the miracles of Jesus. He did it in their town. They saw them. But he also knew that as a Jewish audience, because Jesus had died on a cross, that Jewish audience would reject Jesus as being their messiah. Because He died on that cross. Their messiah, in their view, that would never happen.
So that's why Peter says, doesn't end there. He died for a purpose, but then God raised Him to life. So he demonstrates that not only did He rise from the dead, but He rose from the dead, listen, as predicted by the prophets-- in this case David. He said, him being a prophet, foresaw what was going to happen. And he quotes Psalm 16. Now Psalm 16, most of us have read it. We're familiar with it. Peter was Jewish. As were all the apostles. They grew up on psalms like Psalm 16. They heard it all their lives. They heard it in synagogues. But Peter never understood its meaning till the Resurrection. Have you ever been around something familiar, but you were oblivious to a lot of what's going on? I know some of you gals are going, you just described my husband.
Sorry, couldn't resist. But I'm going to use myself as the illustration husband, so relax a little bit. So my wife will frequently-- when I come home-- she'll bring me into a room of our house and she'll go, now stop, look around. Do you notice anything different? So now I'm on high alert.
And it's usually a plant. She bought a plant and she placed it in a certain place and goes, oh! That's a perfect plant for there! So she did this not long ago. She took me in her room she goes, do you notice anything different? So I start looking around I go, oh, I see that vase is gorgeous! I start talking about it, she goes, [CLEARS THROAT] that vase has been there for 10 years, honey.
She wanted me to see the plant that she got. So Psalm 16 to Peter and the apostles was like that vase to me. Been there all along. But now for the first time, they're understanding really what it's all about. And here's Peter's premise. He's saying Psalm 16 speaks of a resurrection. But since David died and didn't get resurrected, it can't be speaking of him. So therefore, David was speaking as a prophet. That the messiah who was to come, namely Jesus, would rise from the dead. That's his premise. He sums it up in verse 32, "This Jesus God raised up of whom we are all witnessess." Premise is simple. When David wrote this, he wasn't writing it as a personal story but rather a prophetic statement. A statement of Jesus.
Now, why is the Resurrection such a big deal? Why do we make such a big deal out of it? Why is it the center point of the whole New Testament? Why is it the heart and theme of every sermon in the book of Acts? Because after all, if Jesus' death on the cross was enough for our salvation, why did He need to rise from the dead? Well, one of the reasons is that this psalm predicts a resurrection. It says, "You will not leave my soul in Hades," that is the grave, "nor will you allow your Holy One to see corruption," or literally, decay.
Now there's only two ways for your body not to decay. Number one, never die. Never die. And I know some people that are working real hard on that. They'll stretch their face, they'll put creams on their face, they'll try to look like they're 40 years younger. It only works-- well, barely.
Never die. If you never die, your body will never decay. OK, so that's out. Second option, as soon as you die, get raised from the dead shortly thereafter. Resurrection is the only cure. And if you can get resurrected, it means that death has died. Death has died. You see, when Jesus died on the cross, he conquered sin. When Jesus rose from the grave, he conquered death. And he appeared to his disciple. I mean, He showed up after. He didn't just rise and people said, let's spread that rumor. He actually for 40 days showed up with them, hung out with them, and even ate food with them. You see, He wasn't some little translucent being when he ate fish. You could like see the fish going down, wow, [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] check that out. He didn't like [WHIRLING SOUND] hover over the ground. He was a real human god in human flesh raised back from the grave.
For the last 12 weeks we have been looking at a series, Against All Odds. We've considered the odds of one man fulfilling those prophecies the Old Testament has spoken about. We've gone into great detail, mathematical detail. And we have discovered that in all three of these categories-- life, death, and Resurrection, the Bible prophesied in advance hundreds of years before.
We have considered that the Bible predicts hundreds of years before He would be born of a virgin. He would be born in Bethlehem. He would come from the tribe of Judah. His ministry would begin in Galilee. His work would be working miracles. He would enter Jerusalem one day on a donkey. He would be betrayed by a friend. He would be sold for 30 pieces of silver. He would be wounded and bruised. His hands and His feet would be pierced. He would be crucified next to thieves. His garments would be torn and lots cast for them. That His bones would not be broken at His death. That His side would be pierced. That He would be buried in a rich man's tomb. And finally, that He would rise again from the dead. We've been considering that the last 12 weeks.
And we have made known the fact and we discovered the fact and today we just sort of affirmed the fact that it is impossible for those things to be humanly arranged. You can't decide what tribe you're going to be born in. You can't decide or arrange what place you're going to be born at or what mother you are going to be born to. And we have looked at the mathematical probabilities of one man fulfilling 8, then 16, then 48 prophecies, etc.
And let me just remind you that in 100 billion years, there would be no chance for one person in history to fulfill all of those predictions apart from God. Apart from God. There's just no other way to explain the Bible's ability to predict the future. And every time a prophecy is given, and it is fulfilled, it's as if God is saying, ta-da.
I love it. Most of you have heard of the name Harry Houdini. His name is synonymous with magic or escaping. He was an escape artist. His friends said he could escape from anything. And people tried everything. They said he had the flexibility of an eel and the lives of a cat.
They would place him in a casket, lock it up, he'd escape. They put him in a box, put the box wrapped with chains in a river. He'd escape. They would put him a canvas bag and rivet him to the side of a big boiler. He'd escape. They'd put him in water upside down in a straight jacket. He'd escape.
But in 1926, in October, death got a hold of Harry Houdini and took him to the grave. Before he died, he said to his wife, "If there is a way out, I'll find it." He never found it. But he said, "If there is a way out, I'll find it." I'm here to tell you, there is a way out. It's called a resurrection. And Jesus found it.
And when Peter was preaching this sermon, Jesus was alive at that moment. Raised from the dead in power, He was alive when Peter was preaching that. But there were hundreds, thousands of people in that crowd who were dead. Living physically, dead spiritually. Peter himself was alive. He was born again. John, 120 other disciples, they were alive spiritually. But when Peter was preaching, there were many in that crowd who were dead. The Bible says, in trespasses and sins and needed as Jesus said, to be born again. Oh, how Jesus wants to touch the deadness of your life today.
I just want to take it a step further. Some of you believers need a resurrection. Some of us followers of Christ have gotten a little stale over the years. A little stagnant over the years. Some of you believers in Jesus have come to believe that your best days are in the past rather than ahead of you. And so you have sort of put your life into cruise control. You've resigned to barely making it through life and then, I'm going to die and go to heaven. That's not a good plan. We need a touch from God. Maybe it has to do with a relationship you're struggling with. Maybe it has to do with an addiction that's got a hold of you or a practice, a sin, a pattern that you need to break. Or maybe it has to do with the first step of coming to Jesus Christ.
You know, it's quite simple, really. You just come. You come as you are. You don't say, OK I'm going to do something first and then I'm going to come. I'm going to fix this first, and then I'm going to come. I'm going to get my act together first, then I'm going to come. You just come as you are and admit that you need him. You have to first realize that you're a sinner. The Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." All of us have sinned. You have to realize that you are a sinner.
Now some are better sinners than others. I'll grant you that. I'm not as bad as so-and-so. Great. He's a better sinner than you are. He sins much better than you do. But you're still a sinner. And I've got to tell you, God does not grade on a curve. It's the same. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory. You have to realize that.
Next, you have to recognize Jesus died for you; that he loves you. To bridge that gap, if you have ever wondered about how much God loves you, just look at the cross. That'll tell you. Then number three, you have to repent of your sin. You say, what does repent mean? It means to turn around. You make a U-turn on the road of life. You change your mind about the direction you are going and you say, I'm going to go His way. You say, well I feel really bad for things that I've done. Repentance isn't just being sorry. Repentance is being sorry enough to quit what you're doing and go His way. And He'll give you the power to do that.
And then, you must receive Jesus as your Savior and your Lord. You can't do this on your own. You can't do it by your own works. The Bible says, as many has received Him, He gave them the power to become His children. And let me just add one other thing. I think you should do it publicly. Because when Jesus called people, He didn't say, [WHISPERING] hey, you, while nobody's listening, meet me over here. We'll have a private conversation.
He just would walk right up to Matthew's tax station, and in public, say, get up, follow Me. And he got right up right there and publicly followed Jesus. And Jesus even said, if you acknowledge Me before people, I will acknowledge you before My Father in heaven; if you deny Me before people, I'll deny you before My Father in heaven. Hey, why not make a public stand for Jesus? He made a public stand for you on that cross. Make a public stand for Him in your life. And you don't want to wait another day. You want to settle this now.
You can leave this room, this building, or this amphitheater, or this overflow room, wherever you're at, a changed human being from this day forward. You go, well how can I be sure? You'll never know unless you receive Him. You take that step and you see if Jesus doesn't change your life completely. Let's all stand.
Father, as we close in prayer, we pray that you would do what no man can do. And that is convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Bring people into a relationship with your Son. Bring people to the foot of the cross. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
As we sing this final song, if you've never given Jesus your life before, you've never said yes to Him, you may have been raised in a church, you may have gone to Sunday school your whole life your parents taught you at home about Jesus, but it's not a personal discipleship. You're not following Him. You haven't made a decision to surrender your life yet to Him. I'm going to ask you to get up and find the nearest aisle and stand right up here where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ. Maybe you've wandered away from Him. Whatever excuses are in your life, the truth is, today you're not following Him, you're not obeying Him, and you need to come home to Jesus.
As we sing this song like we did in the stadium, we saw over 140 people come forward just an hour and a half ago. I'm going to give you an opportunity. You get up and come right here and stand right up in the front. Some of the counselors are going to show you how it's done. Come with a friend. Come with a relative. If you're in the family room, walk through that door. Come and receive eternal life for yourself. We'll give you that opportunity. If you're on the balcony, walk down those steps. Walk down those steps.
[SINGING] From the ashes, a new life is born. Jesus is calling. Oh come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ!
We just want to give you a couple minutes. Make your way down here. Want to do that honor. Just be a little bit patient as we make room for the most important decision that could ever be made is being made in some people's lives right here, right now.
You might be in the middle of a row and you're thinking, I'm in the most inconvenient place to walk forward. I don't think I'm going to do this. No, just turn to the person say, pardon me. And they may stand with you, but believe me, we're used to this. And you will part the Red Sea in your row.
They'll get out of your way or you'll encourage others to come. We'll wait just another few more minutes. If you're thinking if you should do this or not, let me ask you a question. What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose by right now getting up from where you're standing and making your way here? What do you have to lose? You say, well, I'll lose my dignity. No, I'll tell you what you have to lose. You have to lose hopelessness, you can lose that. You have depression to lose. And you have everlasting hell to lose. That's what you have to lose. If you don't receive Christ, those things are true in your life. If you give your life to Christ, you will lose all of those things.
But now what do you have to gain if you say yes to Jesus? Peace. Hope. A family of God. Peace. And heaven in the end. That's what the Bible, the same Bible who talks about the Resurrection, talks about heaven-- Jesus said I've gone to prepare a place for you. But you won't go there automatically. You have to receive what He has done for you on the cross. So you come as we sing the song one more time through. You get up and come.
[SINGING] Oh come to the the altar. The father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ!
I neglected to say, if you're out in the amphitheater, in the overflow, or in the overflow rooms, there's a pastor there. You could raise your hand right where you're seated in the amphitheater out there. Just raise it up and a pastor will acknowledge you right where you're at. If you're in the overflow rooms, you can raise your hand and a pastor will acknowledge you there.
But those of you who have come forward, so glad you're here. I'm going to lead you now in a prayer. Come on up, come on up close. We're family now-- or just about to be. So I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to pray these words out loud after me from your heart. Say these things from your heart to the Lord himself. Say, Lord, I give you my life. Say that.
Lord, I give you my life.
I know that I am a sinner.
I know that I am a sinner.
I believe in Jesus Christ.
I believe in Jesus Christ.
I believe He died for me.
I believe He died for me.
That He shed His blood for me.
That He shed His blood for me.
And I believe He rose again from the grave.
And I believe He rose again from the grave.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I turn to Jesus as Savior.
I turn to Jesus as Savior. I want to follow Him as my Lord.
I want to follow Him as my Lord.
Help me to do that.
Help me to do that.
In Jesus' name, I pray,
In Jesus' name I pray,
Amen. [SPEAKING OVER APPLAUSE] Welcome to God's family. Welcome to God's family.
As believers, we rejoice in Jesus' Resurrection because we have new life. How will you share this joy with others? Let us know. Email email@example.com. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/give. Thank you for listening to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.