Dear Brothers and Sisters, I greet you in the name of Jesus the Son of God who rose from the dead, who is also the source of our Easter. Praise Jesus!
My name is Ntakirutimana Venant, and I am a pastor in the Anglican Church of Rwanda, the Diocese of Shyogwe. Once again, I welcome you to this opportunity to share the Word of God.You can follow this sermon on Youtube channel Chanel “Revival studios 250”
We are going to look at seven things you can say to the death if you are a Christian whose faith is not in vain. We are well aware that death is a frightening and painful thing, but we are going to look at some of the things you would say to the death, you would respond to the death, and which would help you to overcome the death, if you are truly a Christian who does not believe in Jesus in vain. We are going to pray God first, before getting into the Holy Scriptures.
Lord our God, we thank you because you are the God who loves us, and you are our source of eternal life, may the glory be yours. We pray for this wonderful opportunity to hear your word, to be a blessing to us, and we ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to be with us, so that He can convince and reassure us of what our nature and our intellect cannot and enable us what we could not by our own strength, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.
We are going to read the Word of God in the first letter of Paul to Corinthians chapter 15, we read the first verse to the fourth verse, we will jump and read from verse 12 to 14.
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. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.
Brethren, these words we read were written by Paul to the church in Corinth. He says, I remind you of the gospel that I preached to you, which you received and by which you were saved. And I think you hold firmly to it, as I told you, as I taught you, unless you believed it in vain.
He goes on to explain what he told them. "Remember that I have given you what I have been given, the gospel about that Jesus died for our sins, died and rose again on the third day, as it was written." He comes down to verse 12, and begins to tell them how he sees their faith, and says to them, “If you have been taught, and you preach that Jesus Christ died and rose again on the third day, why do some of you say that there is no resurrection?”
And he testifies that “If people doubt on the resurrection of Jesus, if people doubt that the resurrection of the dead will take place, their faith in Jesus will be in vain. So we need to do our self-evaluation to see if we are not like the Christians in Corinth. Let us examine it. Do we really believe in Jesus Christ who died and rose again from the dead? Does the resurrection on the third day give us hope that the resurrection of the dead will take place? Will we be resurrected? And if we do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, our faith in Jesus is in vain. Brethren, we should see if we believe in the resurrection, if we desire it, if it is something we look forward to, if the resurrection is our hope.
Before we think of the joy of the resurrection, Paul clearly preached the gospel of Christ's death and resurrection. We too have received the message of death and resurrection. Before we go through the joys of the resurrection, we go through the death. How do we go through it? Probably, we always desire that the death should pass over us without touching us. When we are sick, we pray that we would inevitably be healed and that God will deliver us from that sickness and keep us alive. When our close people are sick, we pray that they would necessarily be healed. We do not wish or think that their death is possible. Even when there are those we think can harm us, murderers, witches, criminals who can cause us to die, we hate and curse them, because we are afraid that they will lead us to death we hate.
Even in this life we have the wounds from the fact that some of our people have died, our family members have died, our friends have died, we feel we do not accept that they could die. Even those wounds last long due to the fact that our loved ones have died from injustice, violence, and this is very hurting. These wounds sometimes cause us to think that God has forsaken us since He accepted that to happen. It causes people to give up with their faith and trust in God. It causes people to judge God, to dislike God, to separate themselves from Him. What about us?
There is a good example of people who stood firm before the death, who were told they would die, who looked at and stood in front of the death. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, found in Daniel 3, verses 17 and 18, were told that if they did not bow down to worship the golden statute that King Nebuchadnezzar had made, they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego dared to say, “We cannot worship this idol of King Nebuchadnezzar, knowing well that our God can save us, but, even if our God does not save us, will not bow down for the statute.” We die believing, we die in hope, we die witnessing to our faith, we die righteous without being defiled by idolatry. Thus, they were able to stand and testify even in the presence of the burning furnace, but they were empowered by God to testify to their faith without fear of death, saying that even if God does not save us we are ready to die in hope.
We should ask ourselves, in our Christianity, how do we react when death strikes us? May be we think we have to run away from it, it has to pass over us and not to touch us, yet it inevitably reaches us. We see people killed by the genocide, Rwandans we have seen this, we see people killed by the war, bullets, epidemics, chronic diseases, various disasters, rain, tornadoes, thunderstorms, earthquakes, we see all of these killing people. We see pregnant women die during childbirth. Death is inevitable, every day God saves us from it in everything we go through. But, eventually there will be a day when God allows death to come to us, which is the end of our present life. But, are we ready to be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and say that even if our God does not save us today, we will die in hope? May God help us.
The stories about numerous dead people, the acts of murder of many people, the prophecies saying that something is about to happen, there is a danger that is going to come and kill so many people, people pay attention to them, people listen to them, but because they are afraid of death. For a Christian, how can a Christian stand in the way of hope without the fear of death?
When we look at how Jesus Christ handled it, we also find out how we can follow his example and be able to overcome death. As Jesus prepared himself for the crucifixion, there was a time he was afraid. So, he went with Peter and James and John the sons of Zebedee to the mountain to pray, and went to Gethsemane. When he prayed, Jesus was afraid, until he bled from the sweat mixed with blood. And then he prayed and said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup of suffering, this cup of death be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mat 26:39). That time, He was scared. But he said, ” not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus accepted God’s will, accepted to go through those sufferings, accepted to go through death, and God really walked with him, gave him strength, gave him hope.
We find in the following words, in the testimony of Jesus, that he was strong and bold. When he had been arrested and brought to Caiaphas the high priest, at that time the people accused him, saying, “This man said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days (Mat 26:61). It was thought that Jesus meant that he would destroy the temple of Jerusalem which was built for about 46 years, and that it would be rebuilt and completed in three days. However, Jesus said that if I die, I will be resurrected on the third day. Although they used it to accuse him, I think it reminded Jesus of his testimony, his hope, where he said, “When I die, I know there is a resurrection to come, I know there is a Passover on the third day!” It energized him. And when they were yet in the presence of the high priest, they asked him again, saying, are you Christ the Son of God? (Mat 26:63). Jesus testified and said, “You know that, I am the Son of God!” That was the hope that sustained him, reminding him that he was the Son of God. And he further testified, saying, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven (Mat 26:64). The testimony of Jesus brought him to the point that even though he saw the suffering in front of him, he saw the death before him, but he was convinced that he would be resurrected alive and be at the right hand of Mighty God and that he would come back alive, and people would see him.”
When the time came for him to come to Pilate, he was asked, “Are you really the king of the Jews?” (Mt 27:11). Jesus was not afraid, and he answered, “You have said so”. It means that he testified again and said, “He is the King.” Jesus was not scared. When he was crucified, one of those crucified with him, said, “Lord, we have died for our sins, but you are righteous, and when you come into your kingdom, may you remember me. So Jesus did not hesitate to testify, saying, “I truly tell you, you will soon be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Hallelujah! Jesus was well aware that after his death, there was another life, a better life, in God’s paradise. Thus, Jesus testified that he had the hope of another life and when the wicked one confessed his sins, was also given the promise of living in God’s paradise.
Jesus was again frightened, perhaps because they made fun of him. When he said, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani, meaning, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46). Perhaps because of the mockery of Jesus by people who said, “He said he is a king, may he save himself from the cross. The voice of God has spoken to him that he is the Son of God, God said he loved him, if that was really from God, may he save him from the cross, and we will believe in him! Just as the thief also said, “Save yourself and save us.” Because the people ridiculed him, to some extent, Jesus actually felt that God had forsaken him, even though he had heard and believed that God loved him, that he was his Son and testified to it. But thank God, he restored his strength. On the other hand, he said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my soul.” (Luke 23:46). He said in a loud voice before he died, “Father, I have put my life in your hands.” He testified that he had hope that his soul was hidden in God and that nothing could harm it. He asked God to have a good ending so that his soul could be hidden in it and then be resurrected from the dead.
So, we have to think about what happens to us. Based on these words of Jesus, there is a testimony we should give, there is a hope we should have. We should tell the death, we should tell this body, we should tell Satan that even though you scare us, we should not be afraid, we have no fear, for our Passover is coming, for the resurrection of the dead will take place, Hallelujah! As we read in the book of Revelation, chapter 20, verse 13, there will be a resurrection of the dead, the sea will bring back the dead which are in it and the earth and the underworld bring back the dead that are in them, that they may be judged according to their deeds; whether good or bad.
Whoever is not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. And those who believe in Jesus, those who die honoring him and in hope, they will receive a new life symbolized by the new heavens and a new earth, symbolized by the city of New Jerusalem, symbolized by living in the tabernacle of God. And I saw the tabernacle of God with his people, God dwelt among them, they became his people and he became their God. In verse 4 of chapter 21, it is said that He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, the death will be no more. Crying, mourning, weeping and pain will never happen again. Hallelujah! May God help us to understand this better. This body is really stressful for us. In this body, we cry, we weep, we mourn, we endure pain, we die, but we should have hope that our Passover will come. We must testify that the death does not frighten us, that our Easter will come, that the resurrection of the dead will take place, that this will never happen again, that pain and sorrow will never happen again.
And secondly, we must testify as Jesus did, saying that we are children of God, to the death, to the body, that we do not fear, we are children of God! To testify that we will be with God as Jesus said today we will be together in Paradise. Tell the body which frightens and gives you pain, that in the end, there is paradise ahead. And you should testify and say that I know we will live forever. Although life today is painful and very short, you have to bear in mind that we will live forever. You should testify as Jesus said that you will see the Son of Man at the right hand of God’s power and in the clouds coming back. You should tell the body that even though you terrify me, Jesus will come, tell the death that even though you terrify me, Jesus will come, you will see him, and he will defeat you completely. Hallelujah! We should also pray well, as Jesus did and said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my soul.” Jesus was well aware that his soul could be safe from any danger if it was in God. Jesus knew that his soul could not be taken from God. And when death strikes us, we should pray with hope and say, “God, in your hands we have put our life.”
Probably, you are facing different terrifying issues. May be you feel intimidated by old age. A person who jumps, with a lot of energy, working hard, the time comes for him or her to feel the body weakening, to fail depending on his own and need the help from others, the beautiful skin wrinkling, the teeth extracting, the back starting to bend and relying on a stick for walking, and feeling much fear. But we should have this hope. Say that even though this life is short, even though I am sick, even though I have some disabilities, even though I am in pain, but in the end our Easter will come, we will live forever. If you feel afraid, saying that I am dead, that perhaps I am dead younger, the day God will be accept that it is your time to die, you should go in the hope and tell the death that I know we will live forever. Although the years of this life are few, we will live forever. If you are afraid of the murderers, you are afraid of the war, the rumors of the war, the Disasters, the accidents, incurable chronic disease, dying while giving birth, the pain of death, you should have the courage to remember that we will live, be resurrected, and to testify that there is eternal life ahead. You may have the wounds of your loved ones who have died from the injustices sometimes killed by other people, that hurts, but you don’t have to hold on those wounds, you have to remember that everyone’s life must have an end in this world. But, say to the death that, though you deceive us, even if you deprive us of our loved ones, you will be defeated forever, we will be resurrected, we will live forever, and our dead loved ones will be resurrected, we will see them again, glory be to God.
In short, let us remember these important words, these 7 important things that you should answer to Satan, tell the death, tell the body, testifying to your faith and hope, and tell them that don’t make me scared. I will be resurrected; my Easter will come, when Jesus returns we will be resurrected, Easter is coming. Confess that Jesus will come and he will return and conquer death forever. Confess that you are a child of God. Confess that you will live with God. Confess that you will be in Paradise. Confess that your soul is hidden in God and nothing can take it away. Confess that you will live forever. Even if you die, have the same testimony as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and say that even if our God does not save us from death now, we will die in hope, in righteousness. May God help us to die with hope, with peace, without jealousy, without wickedness, without hatred, without refusal of forgiving, without refusal of leaving the things of the world, without refusal to quit what we have done and to quit the wealth we have worked for, without unacceptance to separate from our loved ones and our families, without complaints to God. Let us be assured that God has hidden our souls, that we will be resurrected, that we will be in paradise, that we will be in the tent of God, ahead, our Easter is coming. Let us this be our hope. May you strive to die in hope, peace, testimony, sanctification and righteousness for everyone who is found in the book of life will live forever, will live in paradise, will live in the tent of God. Suffering, pain, crying and mourning, and even death, will never happen again. Hallelujah! Let us pray to God and ask God for strength so that our faith in Jesus may not be in vain in our lives, but the faith that leads us finally to a new life, eternal life, and to dying in hope and trust in our Lord.
Our God we thank you for your word to us. It reminds us that you are a God of power who raises the dead. And it reminds us of your promise that you will raise us from the dead, that our Passover will come when Christ Jesus will return, and the death will be defeated forever. Our God I beseech you to heal us of the wounds of death, to save us from the fear of death. And keep us from dying like those who are going to perish, but give us to die like those who die in the Lord, trusting in our Lord. I beseech you to heal us of all kinds of wounds, and give us faith and fill us with the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in our witness to die with hope and to believe in the resurrection of the dead and eternal life, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.