This is the second week of our series called Remix. We decided to kick off 2013 with this series because nothing else is as important as this. Nothing else is as basic and fundamental as this.
This series comes from 1 Corinthians 15. The message of this chapter is that Jesus Christ died on a cross. But then, three days later, He was raised to life again. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is at the center of our faith. It’s the hub of the wheel. It’s then nucleus of the cell. It’s the center of everything we believe and everything we are.
To put it simply, if Jesus is dead, then Christianity is dead. If Jesus is alive, then Christianity is alive.
That’s why the central verse of 1 Corinthians 15 says, “Unless Christ was raised to life, your faith is useless, and you are still living in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17, CEV)
The central message of the gospel is grace. Forgiveness. A second chance. But it’s only possible through the resurrection of Christ.
Let’s pray, and we’ll jump in.
We’re going to take a little trip down memory lane today. Especially if you were a child of the 80s like me.
Everyone in my generation had a Nintendo in their house. The beauty of the old Nintendo was that it only had two buttons. Power and Reset. And I used that reset button all the time.
If I was attacked by a Goomba or hit with a turtle shell, I knew I could hit reset. Every time I fell into a pit, I knew I could hit reset.
All of my mistakes and missteps would be gone if I hit reset. That reset button was a second chance waiting to happen.
And somebody is going to be broken in two by this truth today…that reset button isn’t just available on a Nintendo. It’s not just a video game, fantasy world thing. It’s available in the real world. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is our reset button.
When we get knocked down, it’s our reset. When we fall, it’s our reset. When we mess everything up, it’s our reset.
Let’s get into 1 Corinthians 15. In the first verse of the chapter, the Apostle Paul writes, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” (1 Corinthians 15:1, NIV)
The book of 1 Corinthians is a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians in the city of Corinth. And he opens this chapter by telling these believers that he wanted to remind them about the gospel.
He wasn’t teaching anything new. This wasn’t anything they hadn’t heard before. Paul was reminding them of what they already knew.
Some of us are going to hear this message for the first time today. You didn’t grow up in the church. You aren’t real familiar with the Bible. Maybe you have some misconceptions and misunderstandings about God. And the message you hear today is going to mess you up, because you’re hearing it for the first time. Praise God! That’s awesome! We’re so glad you’re here. And I know that God is going to do something in you today.
But for others of us, this isn’t going to be new. Instead of new, it’s review. It’s a reminder of what you already know. It’s a refresher of what you already believe.
So why bother? Because we are incredibly forgetful people. C.S. Lewis said, “We need to be reminded more than instructed.”
It’s true. We need to be reminded of how deep God’s grace really runs. We need to hear the gospel preached to us again. We need to be confronted with the power of the resurrection again. Because a lot of us know the message so well that it has lost its power.
Familiarity does that, doesn’t it? The more familiar you are with something, the less wonder and awe you feel. There’s an old saying that familiarity breeds contempt. Maybe a better way to say it would be that familiarity breeds complacency.
For some of us, the death and resurrection of Jesus don’t fill us with wonder and awe anymore. And the message of grace and second chances doesn’t move us anymore.
And you know what that’s called? It’s called sin. And today is your call to repent. Today is your day to pray for God to forgive your callousness…your pride…your complacency. Today is the your day to be changed by the resurrection again.
The Apostle wrote, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, NIV)
Paul reminds us that the gospel is based on the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But now, skip on down to verse 20. Because the death and resurrection of Jesus is true, then this is true, too.
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22, NIV)
“In Adam, all die.” Paul is referring back to the creation of the world in the beginning of the book of Genesis. The first man’s name was Adam. You might be familiar with the story. God had commanded Adam and his wife, Eve, not to eat from one specific tree in the Garden of Eden. However, they were disobedient to God and sinned by eating the fruit from that tree.
This first sinful act set the wheels in motion for the rest of humanity. It ushered sin into our world and we’ve been reeling from the consequences ever since. Adam chose to sin, and all of humanity after him has made the same choice.
But it is just that. It is a choice. Adam may have brought sin into our world, but he didn’t force it into our lives. No one forces us into sin. Like Adam, we’re faced with a choice. And like Adam, we have all chosen wrong. This is why Paul can say that “In Adam, all die.” The ultimate consequence of sin is death.
But it’s not just physical death. It’s more serious than that. It’s spiritual death. Sin builds an immediate dividing wall between God and us. It completely and permanently separated us from God…until Jesus came and did something about it.
“In Adam, all die. In Christ, all will be made alive.”
Adam brought sin and death into our world, but Jesus brought grace and life through his death and resurrection.
In Adam, there is the Goomba. There is the turtle shell. We fall into the pit.
In Christ, there is the reset button. There is a second chance. There is life. Three days after Jesus died, he rose to a new life. And His resurrection gives us a new life, too.
It’s beautifully symbolized in the water of baptism. In Romans 6, Paul wrote, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:3-11, NIV)
Jesus is not dead. The resurrection is true. He is alive. And in the exact same way, we are alive when we give our lives to Him. Once you surrender to Christ, you are dead to sin. You are dead to your past. You are dead to your mistakes. You are dead to your regrets. You have a completely new life. A real second chance. A true reset.
But sometimes it just doesn’t feel like it’s true, does it? We might believe in our head that it’s true, but sometimes our hearts don’t feel like it’s true.
I had a great example this week. I can’t even explain exactly why this happened. I was working in my office. It was a day pretty much like any other day. Then, all of a sudden, something sparked a synapse in my brain. And immediately, I recalled something buried in my past. Something I intensely regret. But the thing is, it wasn’t even from my recent past. This was from back in high school. But that didn’t matter. As I remembered it, I was overcome with shame and guilt and regret all over again.
I seriously cannot explain it. I don’t know why this memory popped into my head from out of nowhere, but it did. And even though I was a teenager when it happened, the guilt and regret felt like it was yesterday.
It happens, doesn’t it? You’re just going along. Everything seems fine. And then BAM! You get hit with a memory. A memory of regret. And you feel that guilt and shame all over again.
And it doesn’t feel like things in your life have been reset. You’re not feeling your second chance.
Maybe your memory is from long ago. Something you’ve never been able to move past. Or maybe it’s a more recent memory. Something recent that you intensely regret.
Either way, the result is the same. You stay locked in a prison of guilt instead of walking in the freedom of grace.
In Galatians 5, Paul said, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV)
Freedom is the whole point. Jesus died to pay the price for your sin. All of it. Nothing held back.
And then He rose from the dead to give you a new life. A reset. A second chance. A completely new life of freedom.
If you have given your life to Christ, you are free. Jesus said so Himself in John 8.
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36, NIV)
If the Son of God sets you free, you will be free indeed. Jesus said it emphatically. You will be free indeed. Because His death is the payment for all your sin…because his resurrection gives you a totally new life…you are not just free. You are free indeed.
Everybody say this out loud. I am free indeed! Say it again. I am free indeed!
You are free from all your sin! You are free from your biggest mistakes! You are free from you deepest guilt! You are free from your most intense regrets! It doesn’t matter if it was yesterday or 20 years ago. You are free indeed!
That is the power of Jesus’ resurrection! Jesus was raised to a new life so we could have a new life.
If this is the first time you’ve ever heard this truth, I pray that you grab onto this truth with both hands.
If you’ve heard it all before and it’s become comfortable and routine, I pray that God would break you in two. How can this become old to you? How can this become routine and ordinary to you?
Jesus paid the price of our sin on the cross so we wouldn’t have to. And then He rose again, totally defeating death and giving us new life.
And I’ll never get over that. I’ll simply never get over that.
Dr. Karl Barth was one of the most prolific theologians of the 20th Century. He wrote volumes on the meaning of life and faith.
Once, near the end of his life, Dr. Barth was lecturing at Princeton Theological Seminary when a student asked, “Dr. Barth, what is the greatest truth you have ever learned?”
Everyone in the lecture hall immediately leaned in, ready to hear the incredible words of insight and wisdom that would surely come out of his mouth.
Dr. Barth paused and thought for a moment. Then he raised his head and began to speak. He said, “The greatest truth that I have ever learned is ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’”
Through his lifetime of study…out of the hundreds of lectures that he had given and the millions of words that he had written…the most compelling, exciting, life-changing truth he had ever learned was, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
He never got over it. We should never get over it, either.
Go back to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15. In verse 22, he wrote, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22, NIV)
In Christ, ALL will be made alive. All. A-L-L. All.
In other words, this includes you. Some people grow so religious that the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection doesn’t move them anymore. But others believe they are so far gone that it could never reach them in the first place.
But this little three-letter word says differently. ALL will be made alive in Christ. If you surrender to Jesus, you will be made alive. You will be given a second chance. You will live a new life. You will be free indeed.
Don’t let what defeated you in the past define who you are today. Jesus defines you. Not your sin or your guilt or your past or your regret. Jesus died for you and rose again for you…so He gets to define you.
Don’t give that power to anything or anyone else. Don’t give someone else permission to define you. Don’t give any sinful choice you made the power to define you. Jesus defines you. Don’t give anyone else or anything else that power.
Jesus defines you. And He has said that when He sets you free, you are free indeed. He makes you new.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV 1984)
If you are in Christ, you are a completely new creation. So why do you still allow yourself to be dominated by the past? Why would you allow sins that have already been conquered by Jesus continue to rule over you? Why does anyone or anything else get to define you?
If you are in Christ, the reset button has been pressed. You are new!
So really, it comes down to a choice. Regret or Reset?
You are going to live in one of the two. You will live in regret or you will live in reset. And you get to choose which one.
If you continue to live in regret, then you are denying the very power of God that raised Jesus from the dead. God may be powerful to resurrect His Son, but He is not powerful enough to free you from guilt and shame. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?
Earlier, I mentioned how the classic Nintendo only had two buttons on the front panel. There’s a power button and there’s a reset button. If the Nintendo was plugged into a power source, then a reset was always available.
If you are living in the power of the resurrection, then a reset is always available. But the key is to recognize where the power comes from.
This isn’t something that we do. It is something that is done for us.
Listen to this reminder from Ephesians 2. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)
The power of the reset…the power of the second chance…the power of a new life comes by grace, through faith. We trust in what Jesus did for us on the cross. We rely on the power of His resurrection. And we know that it is a free gift. You can’t deserve it. And there is not one thing you can do to earn it. It is not something you do. It is something that is done for you.
I know it probably sounds a little corny, but it’s true. Two buttons are all that is required. Power and reset are all that you need.
You’ve got to know where the power comes from. It doesn’t come from you. It’s not about anything that you can do. The power comes from the cross and the empty tomb of Jesus.
And that power makes the reset possible. It makes a new life possible.
And that new life isn’t a one-time thing. It’s not just on the day of your salvation. It’s not just the day you give your life to Christ. It’s every day after that. Everyday is a day where you are made new, where everything is reset by the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Go back to something Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15. In verse 2, he said, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:2, NIV)
The gospel is the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And Paul said that “by this gospel you are saved.”
But it’s possible that this isn’t the best translation of this verse. It’s very possible that a better translation of this is, “by this gospel you are being saved.”
There is an aspect of our salvation that is a one-time event. You admit that you have sinned, you accept Jesus as your Savior, you are baptized into him. It’s a one-time event.
But there is another aspect of our salvation that is an ongoing process. And that is likely what Paul is talking about here. By the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are being saved. In other words, God is doing a perpetual work in our lives.
The reset, the new life is not just a one-time event. It’s an everyday event.
In Lamentations 3, the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV)
God’s mercy and grace are new every day, which means every day is a chance to start over. To hit reset. To be a new creation in Christ. The power of the death and the resurrection of Jesus is so much bigger than a one-time event. That power renews you every day. In fact, it can renew you right now, if you’ll allow it.
A few weeks ago, I was taking all our Christmas lights down. I had outlined our entire roofline with icicle lights. And it was awesome. But now Christmas was over. It was my day off and it was time for the lights to come down.
I looked up at the roof and I could see that, on one side of our house, there was still a little snow left from the snowfall we had after Christmas. But it just this tiny little strip of snow. I could avoid that easily and take the lights down. So up on the roof I go.
The first side of our house was easy. It’s the side that the sun always shines on, so the snow was melted and the roof was dry. No problem.
Then I step over the peak of our roof onto the other side of our house. I saw the snow that I had seen from the ground. Not a big deal. But what was a big deal was the ice that I didn’t see when I was on the ground.
The only reason I am preaching this message on this stage instead of from a hospital bed is because I allowed common sense to take over. Instead of taking the lights off a little at a time, I gave the cord one big yank and the lights came off and fell to the ground. And then I got off the roof. I figured that Christmas lights falling to the ground was better than me falling to the ground.
But then I thought about the whole experience. It was the same roof of the same house. But one side was icy, slick, and dangerous. The other was warm, dry, and safe. What was the difference? The difference was that one side had been exposed to the power of the sun. The other had not.
The same goes for us. We can live in regret or in reset. And one thing will make the difference. Whether we tap into the power of the Son of God or not.
You don’t have to live in guilt and shame and regret. You can be a new creation in Christ. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known the truth of the cross and the empty tomb. The playing field is level. We all need to be made new. The cross and the resurrection of Christ makes it happen.
Today, we invite you to come to Him. Or come back to Him. Either way, you can be made new. You can have your reset today.