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Easter Sunday: Why Jesus?

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This was a big weekend at Gateway Community Church.  On Good Friday, we met to sing and pray and hear a message from Pastor Alex York out of Zechariah 13:1 about Jesus as a fountain cleansing us from sin and impurity.

On Saturday, we had a memorial service for elder Tom Bellino, who went home to be with the Lord on March 24, after a battle with cancer.  We celebrated his life in the context of Easter and belief in the Resurrection.

On Easter Sunday, we began a new schedule of two services on Sunday morning at 9:00 and 11:00 - and both services were packed!

Pastor Ed Allen spoke to us from John 14:1-9, answering the question Why Jesus?  Why do Christians keep insisting that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life?  We took an honest look at the exclusive claims that Christians have made over the centuries.

Jesus' story is remarkable, and there are strong, rational reasons to believe it.  We went over those briefly.

-- The Empty Tomb

Alternate explanations are very weak, and where did this idea even come from if it wasn't true?

-- Early Witnesses

Paul wrote less than 25 years after the event that Jesus had appeared after his death to more than 500 witnesses - and most of them were still alive.

-- Lives of the First Followers

Their lives were completely changed.  They suffered and died over the next 40 years without changing their story.

Okay, so What does it have to do with us?

We're starting with these foundational principles:

1)  The universe was created with the greatest intention and care.

2)  Humans were made to occupy the pinnacle of creation and relate to God.

3)  The universe has an intrinsic moral framework.

4)  When that framework is violated, existence is altered; sin leads to death.

So we're in trouble.  And we know we're in trouble.  We see the effects in our lives.

Romans 3:23 - "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

2 Corinthians 5:21 - "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him."

The sacrificial system of the Old Testament pointed to Jesus, and Jesus fulfilled that system.

So - "Do not let your hearts be troubled."  If you know Jesus, you know the Father.

Jesus is the Way!

Jesus is the way God relates to us.  We need a Saviour.

Jesus is the Truth!

The Truth is a person.  If you want to know the Truth, know Jesus.

Jesus is the Life!

Real life is through Jesus.  The tomb is empty!

It's difficult to hold onto our faith at times.  But Jesus told us, "Don't be troubled.  I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Posted by Sondy Eklund with

Questions About Spiritual Growth

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Today's sermon began by acknowledging that this is a tough time for our church with the passing yesterday of Tom Bellino, who had been serving as an elder for many years.  He had been suffering from an aggressive cancer.

Pastor Ed said that it's difficult partly because he really believes all this - and is profoundly confident that Tom is in a better place.  But it's still difficult for us who are left behind.  But Tom has already passed through the worst part.  Now it's all glory!  This will be the best Easter of Tom's life!

Then Ed finished our sermon series on Philippians and Spiritual Growth, looking at Philippians 4:8-20 with Four Organizing Questions.

1)  As we grow spiritually, what should we think about?

Philippians 4:8 -- Notice three things:

-- This instruction is comprehensive in its scope.  "Whatever..."!

This was a typical ethical list from that day.  Doesn't have to be Christian to be worth thinking about.

-- This is the front lines of spiritual growth.

Getting healthy spiritually requires the right mental diet.  For all of us, this is crucial.

-- You must choose the source of your thought-life very carefully.

This is why we dive into the Bible every week.  We do find what's true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.

2)  What should our rule of life be?  How should we live?

Philippians 4:9

This isn't as comprehensive as the last verse.  In terms of character, the scope is narrower.  There is a distinctly Christian way of living.  Though Christians should be the least judgmental people of all, tolerance isn't the highest virture, love is.

3)  As we grow spiritually, where are we headed?  What will this look like?

As we grow spiritually, we will become people who want, more than anything else, to know Christ.  Philippians 4:10-19

In that culture, orators got money based on how well they spoke.  But Paul was saying, It's not about me -- it's all about Jesus.  He wants to be sure they understand it's not entertainment.

4)  If this is where we end up, what is the by-product?

One word answer:  Contentment!

Paul's saying, I can take anything life throws at me, I can suffer, through Christ who gives me strength!

Our own lives are characterized by too much of too many good things.  We live in the capital of the treadmill world.  How about stepping off?  The treadmill does not take us to contentment.  We're designed to get contentment through a dynamic connection with God through Jesus Christ.

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