Rev. David Holwick
First Baptist Church
West Lafayette, Ohio
April 19, 1987
The Power of Easter
Power is a fascinating thing. It comes in many different forms. There is power from coal. If this block [hold up medium-sized block] was made of coal, it could boil a pot of coffee. Over at the Conesville Power Station they burn thousands of tons of it, and southern Ohio from Columbus on down is provided with electricity as a result.
The power of coal comes from chemical bonding, which is not very potent. For real power, we turn to atomic reactions. If this cube were uranium, it could do a lot more than heat up some coffee. The much Uranium235 could fry West Lafayette.
Another nuclear process is even more dynamic. It is called fusion. When four hydrogen atoms are pressed hard enough, they will form one helium atom. But the helium atom weights a little bit less than four hydrogen atoms. If you started out with 100 pounds of hydrogen, 99.6 pounds of helium would be formed. The little bit that is missing is changed into raw energy. So if the block was made of hydrogen, and I could fuse it together, Coshocton County would go up in smoke.
There is an energy that is even more powerful. According to Albert Einstein, matter and energy are interchangeable. If this cube could be completely converted into energy, it would annihilate half of Ohio.
It boggles the mind. But the Bible says there is a power that is even greater than this - the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a power that cannot be explained by physics because it is beyond human understanding. The Apostle Paul can only describe it by piling up adjectives - he calls it the exceeding greatness of God's power. The details of the resurrection are fascinating. First of all, you have to bear in mind that the Bible never describes what happened. No one witnessed the resurrection itself. But many people saw the results.
All the gospels agree that Jesus was really dead. This is not hard to believe because he was beaten, flogged, crucified for six hours and stabbed with a spear. Once he as laid in the tomb, it was sealed with a massive stone, which could only be moved by a system of levers and blocks.
On Easter morning, something wonderful happened. The stone was rolled away and the body was gone. The strips of cloth that had been wrapped around him were collapsed in place. Soon after this, Jesus appeared to his friends in a physical form. Sometimes he allowed himself to be recognized, at other times he was able to conceal his identity. He could appear and disappear at will, even in a locked room. After forty days, they watched with their own eyes as he ascended into the clouds.
Jesus did not have a physical body like we have. In that case he would have been a resuscitated corpse, like Lazarus. Jesus had a supernatural body.
The best explanation of this is found in 1 Corinthians 15. In verse 50 Paul says:
Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
Now go down to verse 50:
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
The power of the resurrection changed Jesus into a supernatural, eternal being, and someday that same power will transform our bodies, too.
But what can it do for us today? That may sound selfish, but the great events in the Bible always have a practical application for our lives. In Ephesians 1, Paul is praying that we will know the resurrection power of Jesus. He does not pray that we will get this power. He assumes we already have it. Verse 19 literally reads, "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power in us who believe...."
What does it mean to have the power of the resurrection in us? First of all, it is the power that saves us. A lot of people think salvation is a two-way street. You do the best you can, and God helps you through. This is a very popular idea. But it is wrong. God's power, and God's power alone, can lead us to salvation. The Bible says that by yourself you can do nothing - the "natural man" cannot approach God. It is not even you plus God. God alone saves us. All we can do is accept it.
When God saves us, his power washes our sins away. The Bible goes so far as to say our sins are forgotten by God. (People don't do this - it takes a miracle.) We were his enemies, but he makes us right with him again.
Has God's power brought you to salvation? If he has, you will know it. The Bible says you can be confident of this because it depends on Jesus, not you. You will also experience it in your daily life. Salvation is not just a past event, a decision you made way back in Junior High. Salvation begins a new relationship with God, and his power will keep us going day by day.
True Christians have the power to change their character. Do you have a hot temper? God's power can cool it down. Are you enslaved to some habit? God's power can break it. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we can have victory over sin. It does not have to master us, because Jesus is our Lord.
At this point it is easy to get cynical. All around us, we see Christians who fall away. Some of them are famous, others are next-door neighbors. Even when they are not falling away, we do not see much evident of any victory in their lives. In our own lives we find a lot of trash that hangs in there. We cannot get rid of it. If God's power is in us, why are we such a mess? Because it is not automatic. Out of love, God gives us the ability to thwart his power, to turn it off. According to Ephesians 1:19, it is only released for those who believe. We have to trust God and not put up barriers to him. If someone is really open to God, and seeks his will and obeys him, there is no telling what God's power can accomplish in them.
This is far more than positive thinking or the power of self-suggestion. Some church people act like this is the best you can hope for. To them, church exists to reinforce morality, or to provide friendship. Maybe it is just tradition - Mom attended, and so should I. A lot of Christians lives as if there is no power outside of ourselves.
I do not believe it. Few may really experience it, but a real, supernatural power is available to followers of Jesus. It is the power to change: We can love people who are not very lovable. In hopeless situations, God's power will show us a way out. But we must have the faith to let him do this. Most people really do not want to change. What about you?
God's power can save us, once and for all.
His power can sustain us, day by day.
And finally, God's power can conquer death.
Each person here will die (assuming Jesus does not come back right away). Some will die dramatically. Most will linger then pass away in old age. But we will all die, no matter what our beliefs. Nobody in his right mind wants to die. We want to hang on to what we are used to. Death is a very frightening thing. When we think of death, we think of pain and crying. To make matters worse, most Christians have a wimpy concept of what follows death. You hope you go to heaven and meet your loved ones. But there is a lot more to it than that.
Because Jesus was raised from the dead, every believer has the promise that they will also be resurrected. We will be given new bodies that will never wear out. Your decision will determine whether this happens to you...
Copyright © 2017 by Rev. David Holwick
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