Wednesday, March 23, 2016

He's Alive

My An Arkie's Faith column from the March 23, 2016 issue of The Mena Star.

During the 1970’s as I listened to Contemporary Christian Music, Don Francisco was one of my favorite artists. Last year for my birthday my daughter gave me an album that had just been released titled, "We Will Stand.” It is a one of a kind live recording that includes 30 CCM artists who performed together on Jan. 21, 2015. Don Francisco was one of those artists and he sang his signature song, "He's Alive.”

Don’s music often tells a story and “He’s Alive” is one of his best. The song tells the story of the resurrection of Jesus from Peter’s point of view. It ends with these words: “Suddenly the air was filled with strange and sweet perfume. Light that came from everywhere; Drove shadows from the room. Jesus stood before me with His arms held open wide. And I fell down on my knees and just clung to Him and cried. He raised me to my feet and as I looked into His eyes. Love was shining out from Him like sunlight from the skies. Guilt in my confusion disappeared in sweet release. And every fear I'd ever had just melted into peace. He's alive, He's alive. He's alive and I'm forgiven. Heaven's gates are open wide. He’s alive."

What a powerful message the song delivers. This is the gospel; the good news that Jesus is alive. Let’s take a look at the story as it is recorded in Mark 16:9-16 (NIV) “When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.’”

Jesus gave his disciples the job of going to the entire world and preaching the gospel. Most Christians realize that Jesus didn't just tell his disciples to preach the gospel, he asks all of his followers preach the gospel. But just what is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that Jesus is alive. He has achieved victory over death. He wants to give us eternal life.

Paul explained it very clearly to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (NIV) “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.”

The gospel is very simple. 1-Jesus died for our sins. 2-He was buried. 3-He rose again.

I once heard a preacher who stated that whatever topic he was preaching on he always included John 3:16 (NKJV)  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 is the gospel. Whatever we as Christians are teaching needs to have the gospel at its center. Jesus, his death and resurrection, should be the center of any doctrine, teaching or belief. Too much of what Christians are focused on is not gospel oriented.

Gentle Reader, the most important part of the story of the cross is that He’s alive!  We read in Acts 1:11 (NIV) “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Christians are looking forward to the second coming of Jesus because He’s alive!

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