Hello and welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. While growing up, my parents often times asked me to do something around the house. I was a member of the family and they wanted me to do my part. Well on occasion, I would ask the question, why do I need to do that, or why is that so important? Whether or not I received an answer, I quickly learned the importance of taking part in family matters, and there was usually a benefit or a promise that came from doing so. In our lesson today, on "Key to the Kingdom," we will ask a similar question and we will notice there is great benefit and blessing that comes from being a part of God's family. Our focus will be on some of the promises that come as a result of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. It is important to remember how God loves each and every one of us. He wants us to receive the blessings and to enjoy the promises He offers. As we seek to understand the significance of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, we will ask the simple question, so what? Perhaps you have asked that question before. Perhaps you wonder, what is so special about what Jesus did so long ago? And if so, I hope you will stay tuned to this station for the next few minutes, as we explore some answers. I invite you now to open your heart and your Bible as we begin to study the Bible together.
A number of years ago, when I was attending college, I had the privilege to sit at the feet of a number of educated and very wise men. One of them taught me how to put together and share a message. And one of the things he told me was this: at the end of sharing that message, the people who have just heard it need to be able to ask and answer the question, so what? In other words, after hearing this message, after gathering all of the information, I need to make a decision as to what that message means to me. Does it make any difference in my life, whatsoever? When we think about the story of Jesus' death upon the cross, it brings tears of sadness to our eyes. And then, when we think about the story of His resurrection from the grave, it brings tears of joy to our eyes. But then the ultimate question is, how does that impact my life? What difference does Jesus' death on the cross and burial in the tomb and resurrection from the grave make in my everyday life? For the next few minutes I would like for us to ask the "so what" question, in regards to Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. When I think about what Jesus did for me, by giving His life for me up on the cross and then rising again from the grave, I realize that I am very special to Him. In fact, Jesus died for every person on the face of this Earth. And that tells us all something very important; that we are all very special in the eyes of the Lord. And so as we consider that "so what" question, let us ask the question, then, because of what Jesus did upon the cross, His death and resurrection, first of all, we realize that we can talk with God. From time to time I take my cell phone and I call my dad; and we talk on the phone; and we share; we visit with one another for a period of time. And I'm thankful for those visits. But on occasion, I cannot reach my dad, for some reason or another. Perhaps he has turned off the phone because he has another commitment. Maybe he or I am traveling outside of a cell phone tower range and we cannot make connection. Or, sometimes, he simply does not hear the phone ring. And, all of those things are understandable. But, when I begin to talk with my Father in heaven, I know that He is always available. He always hears the prayers that I offer. I have a direct connection with God because of Jesus Christ, His son. Sometimes I don't know for sure what to say when I talk with my Heavenly Father in prayer. I don't know for sure what I need to talk with Him about, or how I need to express the desires or the concerns of my heart. But there is one thing I know, Jesus Christ, His son, is interceding on my behalf. In the Old Testament, we read about a man by the name of Job. And on a regular basis, Job prayed on behalf of his children. He was concerned they, perhaps, had done something that was wrong or offensive to God and so he stood in the gap for them and he offered prayers on their behalf to his God in heaven. The same is true with Jesus Christ. He is in heaven interceding for us. He fills the gap. He stands in the void between us and our Heavenly Father. And we know that from the letter of Romans, chapter 8 and verse 34. <"Christ Jesus is the One who died -more than that, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us."> Now that's good news, isn't it? That one of the tasks of Jesus, even today, is to be at the right hand of our Father in heaven and to intercede for us, to take the thoughts and the intentions of our thoughts and our prayers to the Father in heaven for us. Yes, Jesus is there to represent us. And as a result, it is a tremendous pleasure to talk with our Heavenly Father. And when we go to Him in prayer, it is there that we can find His grace and His mercy, to help us in our times of need. When I think about that, I realize that it would not even be possible if Jesus had not first died upon a cross and was buried in a tomb and then rose again on the third day. But then secondly, because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we too will be raised from the dead. Yes, we will be raised from the dead, just as Jesus was raised from the dead. That is something we can look forward to and anticipate. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, "everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." And yes, that might be true. None of us want to go through that death and dying process. It's so uncertain. We don't know for sure what to expect or how it will work out. And yet the fact still remains, all of us will experience death at one time or another, unless Jesus first returns. All of us, no matter who we are and no matter where we live, will go through that death and dying process. But yet for Christians, we can go through it with confidence knowing that we will rise again on the other side. It is true that we may not know for sure what is on the other side of death, but for the Christian, we can know who is on the other side. And as Jesus has been raised up from the dead, He is there to welcome us and to greet us as we too rise from the dead. Notice these words from 2nd Corinthians 4:14. <"He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with You into His presence."> There is coming a time when we too, like Jesus, will rise up from the dead and we won't be in the grave any longer, but we will rise up from the dead and we will meet the Lord in the air and we will be able to be with Him for all eternity. And that is mentioned a number of other times in Scripture, as well. Let me share with you a couple of more passages. 1st Corinthians 15:13 <"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Jesus was raised."> And then again, in 1st Thessalonians 4:14. <"We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him."> Since we know that God raised His son Jesus Christ up from the dead, then we can also know, with all certainty, He will raise us up from the dead also. Again, that gives us some great confidence and reassurance. And compared to our time in eternity, our time in the grave will be nothing more than a puff of smoke or the dew on the grass. But let me remind us, secondly, none of that would be possible, we would not be able to be raised from the dead if Jesus had not first died upon the cross, was buried in a tomb and then rose up on the third day. But then number three, because of His death and resurrection, we have hope. Hope is the one thing that we need in this world, perhaps more than anything else. Yet, there are many people in this world who live without any hope for their life. They believe that once their physical life is over here upon the Earth then that's the end. There is no eternal life. There is nothing to look forward to beyond the grave. Some even believe it continues on over and over again, and there is no way to get out of that downward spiral, that we die and then we come back to life again, and it's a life that not even as good as the life we first lived, and there is no hope of a better life. There is no hope of a future with God. I think about what the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2. In verses 11 and 12 he makes a contrast between those who are a part of God's family, who live with faith in Jesus, and those who are not. And he states, for those who are not, they are separated from a covenant relationship with Jesus. They are alienated and strangers to God's covenants of promise. And then also, they have no hope and are without God in this world. And when I think about that statement, I cannot imagine how it would be to live without any hope or without God in this world. Yet Paul states that's the way it is for some people. They have no hope because they don't have Jesus. And yet, for those who do believe in and obey Jesus Christ, there is hope beyond the grave. There is something we can look forward to and anticipate, and we are excited about that, as well. Notice these words from 1st Peter 1:3. <"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."> Our hope is not something that might or might not take place. Often times we say, "We hope for a nice day tomorrow. We hope for better health. We hope for a nice retirement." And when we say that, we don't know for sure if it's going to happen or not. There's some uncertainty about it. But when we read and talk about the living hope through Jesus Christ, we know that it is a certainty. It is a reality that is coming. In fact, it is something that we have as a possession, even now. We are able to be seated in the heavenly places with Jesus Christ and we have a foretaste of what is to come later on. Oh, it is a certain reality, but it is also something that will fully be realized when Jesus comes back to claim all of those who belong to Him. Let's continue on reading here in 1st Peter chapter 1. Notice verse 4: <"It is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade -kept in heaven for you."> Now that verse tells me that a Christian's hope cannot be taken away; and the reason is, because God is in charge of it. He is keeping it safe for you and for me, and at just the right time He will give it to us as an inheritance. Often times we think about the inheritance we might receive here upon the Earth from our parents, our grandparents, or some loved one, and those inheritances usually revolve around property, or land, or money, or some other valuable asset. And yet, we know that asset, that money, will eventually be used up, or spent, or wasted away, perhaps even burned up. And, it will be gone, perhaps in just a short period of time. When we compare that to the inheritance we read about here in 1st Peter chapter 1 and verse 4, the inheritance that we have from the Lord will never perish, spoil, or fade, but God is reserving it. He is keeping it safe for us. Again, let me remind us, we would not have that inheritance; we would not have a living hope if Jesus had not first died upon a cross, was buried in a tomb, and then rose up from the grave. But then number 4, because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we enjoy His fellowship. Oh, I am so blessed to have many friends and acquaintances here upon this Earth. I have friends where I live and where I travel, here in the United States. I have friends halfway around the world. And, I enjoy being with them and sharing fellowship with them. But, not a one of those individuals is my best friend. My best friend is Jesus Christ, and I can enjoy fellowship with Him all the time. No matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, He is always with me. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples, His followers, and He told them these words, in Matthew 28:20. <"Surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age."> And that literally means, "the whole of every day." Now think about that with me for just a moment. Jesus' fellowship is with us the whole of every day, just like it was with His disciples. And that means that every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year, you understand where I'm going with that, we enjoy the fellowship of Jesus Christ. He never leaves us. He never forsakes us. He is always with us. And some people might say that is a bad thing, because Jesus is always hovering over me and it limits what I can do and the way I want to live in this world. Jesus is there going to strike me down, or send me away, or do something bad, because He doesn't like who I am or what I am doing. But yet, for those who belong to Jesus Christ, His continual fellowship and presence is a very comforting thought, because we can know He is with us the whole of every day and He is there to love us, and to protect us, and comfort us, and guide us. When I think about Jesus' fellowship, I realize that it is very special to me, and to all of those who belong to Him. And yet once again, we know that His fellowship would not be present in our lives if He had not first died upon a cross and was buried in a tomb and then rose again from the grave. There's one more thing I want us to consider, as we think about the significance of His death and resurrection, and that is, because He died and rose again, we can now bear fruit for God. If you know anything about farming, you know that in order to produce a crop one must first plant a seed. And after we plant that seed, we perhaps fertilize it and water it and allow the sun to make it grow. And eventually, that seed will turn into a plant and, hopefully, many plants will begin to grow and a harvest can be gathered. That is the way it is in God's natural world. We plant seeds and plants grow and then a harvest is gathered, and that's what it has been like for years and years. Well in a similar way, since Jesus rose from the dead, we now bear fruit for God. It's the natural thing to do. And when we belong to Jesus Christ, when we recognize who He is and what He has done for us, we naturally want to bear fruit for Him and to bring glory to the One who saves us through the blood of His son. And so we look for opportunities to bear fruit for Him. Listen to these words from Romans 7:4. <"You have died to the Law through the body of Christ so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God."> Well, there it is. Jesus was raised from the dead so that we might bear fruit for God. That's one of our purposes. That's one of our responsibilities as one of God's children, to bear fruit on His behalf. We won't take time to read the first part of the gospel of John chapter 15, but let me summarize the first few verses. They go like this: In order to bear fruit for the Lord, we are to be united with Him. But if we are not united with the Lord then there is no fruit. And if there is no fruit then we are cut off and we are cast aside and burned. That might be a tragic way to present that message, but yet the point is very obvious. If we are connected to Jesus Christ, if we are united with Him through our baptism into Him, then we bear fruit for Him. It's the natural thing to do. It is our responsibility as one of God's children. And yet, if that does not happen then we are cut off and we are cast aside and burned up. One of our roles as children of God is to bear fruit for Him. As we think about the great sacrifice He made by sending His son Jesus to die on our behalf, we can't help but to express our gratitude by doing good things, by bearing fruit for the Lord and allowing everybody else to know what He has done, not only for us but for them as well. But again, let me remind us, bearing fruit for the Lord would not even be necessary if Jesus had not first died upon a cross and was buried in a tomb and then rose again on the third day. Oh, there are many more things that we could talk about in regards to our response to what Jesus has done. There are many more things we could say in answer to the "so what" question: What difference does what He did make in my life? But hopefully, these five things remind us of just a few things that we can do, and that God has called upon us to do, and the blessings that we have in Christ Jesus, because of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. I invite you to join me now as we go to God in a prayer of thanksgiving. <<Holy Father in heaven, thank You so very much for the great sacrifice You made by giving Your son Jesus Christ to die on our behalf. And we thank Your son Jesus, for His willingness to die, to suffer, to experience a painful and humiliating death. And yes, that does make a difference in our life. It allows so many blessings and promises and privileges to take place. Thank You for allowing Jesus to die and then to rise again; to give us that opportunity to enjoy the blessings that You provide to those who are Your children. And may we incorporate those things into our life. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.>> I would encourage us, as we close our lesson today, to be reminded of one great passage of Scripture, from 1st Corinthians 15, verses 1 through 4. <"Brothers, 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 apostle Paul states to those Christians in Corinth and to you and to me today, the most important thing, the most important message he could ever share is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is of first importance, it is the number one priority, and it is the gospel by which we are saved. When someone asks you the question, what does Jesus' death, burial and resurrection mean to you, does it make any difference in your life at all, I would encourage you to remember some of the things we have talked about in our lesson today. And be reminded of the wonderful privileges and blessings and promises that we have because of what Jesus has done for us. As you receive the free gift of God's salvation, through the death, burial and resurrection of His son, I would invite and encourage you to make these blessings and promises a part of your daily walk with Him.
Thank you for tuning in to today's program. Hopefully, this message reminded us of the importance of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. In addition to that, I hope it also reminded us of some very special promises. This message is available to be heard or viewed again. You can access it from our website, keytothekingdom.com, and I hope you will. It does not cost anything to do so and we will not contact you unless we are requested to do so. While you are visiting the site, please take time to look at some of the other things we offer. Everything is free from any charge or obligation, even the free Bible study. You might also be interested in some of the previous messages. Other information about our ministry, along with our statement of belief, can be easily found. If you prefer receiving the free Bible study through the mail, please call the toll-free number on the screen. Leave your name and address and we will be happy to mail a copy of it to you. It is a self-guided study and it highlights some of the basic things for one to have a relationship with the Lord. And, don't forget, check out our free "Key to the Kingdom" channel on Roku television, or download the app onto your Apple or Android smart-phone. Once again, thank you for joining us for today's broadcast. I do hope you will join us again next time on this same channel, and at this same time, as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."