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Now I’m undertaking something of which I am unworthy and only by God’s grace could I ever be capable. I want to teach on one of the grandest themes of the whole Bible which is The Resurrection. And I stand here and say before you, I am not adequate to this glorious theme. But I feel that God would have me to bring it forth nevertheless as best I can.
I was thinking to myself, when did I last hear a message preached on the resurrection and I really couldn’t remember. It must have been years ago. And this brought home to me the fact that so many times as Christians in this age we’re so self-centered, we’re so preoccupied with our problems and the solutions, and getting to know how to get out of some situation, that we seldom have time to deal with the glorious majestic truths of the Bible. And we change ourselves short because it’s those truths which ultimately are the final answer to our problems.
So I’m going to speak tonight on the Resurrection. My source will be First Corinthians chapter 15 which is the “Resurrection Chapter.” And I want to bring to you a number of successive points about this chapter and its message. First of all we’re speaking about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. He was buried and the third day He rose again from the dead. And I read a statement just the other day which rather attracted my attention. It said Jesus is the only Person who made an appointment beyond the grave and kept it. He is unique. In many, many ways He’s unique. And one of the unique features of His life is He died, He was buried and He was resurrected. And because He was resurrected all those who believe in Him and follow Him will also be resurrected. So when I talk about the resurrection I’m talking first and foremost about the resurrection of Jesus. But then I’m talking about the resurrection of all true believers. We will be called forth from the grave.
And I want to bring a number of successive statements about this from First Corinthians chapter 15, first of all verses 3 and 4. Paul is speaking to the Corinthian Christians about the message that he’d brought them and he says,
“For I delivered to you first of all [or as the first importance] that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Notice the highest single authority for the resurrection is the Scriptures. That’s always the highest authority for any truth. And Paul says twice, according to the Scriptures, according to the Scriptures. I wonder how many of you would have an answer to the question what Scripture tells us that Jesus would be resurrected the third day. How many of you know where to find it? Well I’ll give you the address but I won’t turn you there. It’s in Hosea chapter 6 verses 1 and 2. It says specifically the third day, and it says not merely that He will be resurrected, but that we will be resurrected because His resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection. And the final basic authority is the Scriptures.
Then Paul goes on to list a number of significant witnesses to this truth. In verses 5 through 8,
“And that He was seen by Cephas [that’s Peter] then by the twelve [apostles]. After that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
According to Jewish law two reliable male witnesses are sufficient to attest the truth of any. And God has given us far more than two reliable witnesses. On top of the witness of the Scriptures we have the witness of the people who actually saw Jesus after He was risen from the dead, more than five hundred persons.
The third thing is that faith in the resurrection is essential for salvation. If you do not believe in the resurrection you are not saved and you cannot be saved. I’ll read from verses 12 and following.
“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some of you say that there is not resurrection of the dead? [This was a false teaching which had already crept into the church in the time of Paul that there is no resurrection.] But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.”
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
When I listen to some preaching and some testimonies I think of that. Some people, Christians, have the attitude that all we’re going to get is here and now. We’re going to get healing, we’re going to get prosperity, we’re going to get so many different kinds of blessings. If it’s only in this life Paul says, ”We are of all men the most to be pitied.” And I feel so sorry for Christians whose hope and expectation is only for this life. They are of all people the most to be pitied. If there is no resurrection then we are miserable. We have no hope. The grave is our goal and the grave is our end. Thank God there is a resurrection. And if you want to be saved you have to believe in the resurrection, because in Romans 10:9 Paul says,
“If you believe in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess Jesus with the mouth, you will be saved.”
To be saved you have to do two things; you have to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, and you have to confess with your mouth. If you do not believe that God raised Jesus from the dead you are a lost soul. You are not saved. No matter how religious you may be, no matter how many times you may go to church, if you do not believe personally in the resurrection you are a lost soul headed for a lost eternity.
And then Paul goes on to say the resurrection is in three successive stages – verses 22 through 24.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. [All will be resurrected sooner or later.] But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, [that’s number one] [number two] afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. [Number three] Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father...”
So there are three successive main phases. Number one is Jesus the firstfruits, the guarantee of our resurrection. Number two those who are Christ’s at His coming. When He returns they will be caught up to meet Him in the air and will be with Him forever. And finally as described in Revelation chapter 1 there is the judgment of the Great White Throne when all the remaining dead are called forth to appear before God and answer for the lives that they have lived.
Then Paul goes on to say that it’s dangerous to deny the resurrection. It says in verses 29 and following if there is no resurrection.
“What will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?”
There’s no absolutely guaranteed explanation, but in my understanding this is a situation in which a person is saved through faith in Jesus but cannot be baptized; as for instance a criminal awaiting execution. He’s led to the Lord in the execution area but he cannot be baptized so another person can, by proxy, be baptized for him. That’s merely the Prince theory. You don’t have to believe it but you have to come up with some explanation. But Paul says, “If there is no resurrection, why do we bother about this man that’s been executed. Just let him be die.” And then he goes on to say,
“And why do we stand in danger every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
That was Paul’s lifestyle; it was a death style. But he never was concerned because he knew that even if he died he would be resurrected. And we need to know that even if we don’t lead the same kind of adventurous life as Paul, sooner or later you’re going to die. That’s one certain fact.
I want to say something which is hard for me to say. But just at the end of last year God called my wife, Ruth, home: a very, very hard situation for me. But God has brought me through in victory by His grace. And I’m rejoicing in the fact that there is a resurrection. And you know – you may not understand this – but I look sometimes at married couples and I think, sooner or later one of them is going to go. And I am so concerned to impart the truth to them so that when the time comes they will be victorious. God has given me the victory. It’s a gift. I don’t claim any benefits from it, any. I don’t claim it’s the result of my righteousness, but I believe in the resurrection. I believe in the resurrection! Do you really believe in the resurrection? I have to say this the right way. I have two wives waiting for me on the other side. I didn’t marry them both at the same time I want you to know: one after the other. I lived with the first for thirty years and with the second for twenty years, so I’ve been married for fifty years. You know what’s so wonderful? I’m going to see them both. I’m going to see them both!
Dear brothers and sisters, please attach real importance to the resurrection, because there’s going to come a time in your life when it will matter a lot to you that you know there is a resurrection. I know! Thank God. It doesn’t mean I don’t grieve, but as Paul says, “I grieve not as those who have not hope.” I’m looking forward to meeting Ruth, to meeting Lydia. And one thing more I’m looking forward to. You know what that is? Meeting Jesus. Amen! Death is not the end.
Let’s go on a see a little further. Paul goes on to say.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’”
Don’t keep wrong company because they’ll take your faith away from you. You cannot afford to have company and fellowship with unbelievers. You can be merciful, you can be gracious, you can be loving, but do not accept their influence in your life because it will destroy your faith. Paul says,
“Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”
Maybe that’s true of some here tonight. You do not have the knowledge of God. You really don’t know God’s plan. You don’t know God’s salvation. And Paul says, “I speak this to your shame.” You should know. What have you been doing in church all these years? What have you been listening to? What have you been listening to? Maybe you’ve been listening to lies. Maybe you’ve been listening to false and foolish criticisms of the gospel. Be careful what you listen to. Jesus said, “Take heed what you hear. For with what measure you measure it, will be measured to you again.”
Beloved, I want you to know I’m very, very careful as to what I open my mind to. Ruth used to say about me, she said, “I’ve never met anybody who’s so careful about what he let’s into his mind.” You know why? Because if I let it into my mind it’s going to come out of my mouth. And I’m a messenger of God. I don’t want to bring to a people anything but the pure, simple, undefiled truth of Scripture.
All right. Now we come to some interesting questions. Going on in verse 35.
“But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’”
That’s a very interesting question isn’t it? How were we going to be raised up, what kind of body will we have? And then Paul says,
“Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow the body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.”
So the resurrection is like putting a grain of wheat or other seed into the ground. The body that you bury is not the body that’s going to come up. There’s a relationship but there’s more difference than there is similarity. And when you put that precious form into the earth you’re sowing it but it’s going to come up altogether different. Glorious! I’m going to tell you what it will be like in a moment. At this moment I’m getting excited. And then he goes on to say,
“But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, another of fish, and another of birds.”
So there are different kinds of flesh. We are buried with one kind of flesh. We come up with a totally different kind of body. And Paul says there are many different kinds of bodies. Then he says,
“There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.”
So in the resurrection there’re going to be many different kinds of stars. Some will be brighter and more glorious than others. This is predicted in Daniel chapter 12 which is a clear Old Testament prediction of the resurrection. Daniel chapter 12, we’ll read the first three verses.
“At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stand watch over the sons of your people.”
Who are the sons of your people when we’re talking to Daniel? The Jewish people. You see whenever Michael is on the stage you know the Jews are the center of the focus.
“And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time.”
That’s what we call the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation will be associated in some way with the resurrection.
“And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.”
Let me ask you this, are you written in the book? Because Jesus has a book of Life and only those whose names are written in the book will be resurrected. Only those whose names are written in the book. And then Daniel goes on,
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. [That’s resurrection.] Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt Those that are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.”
So Paul is referring to that when he says, “As stars different from one another in magnitude and glory and brightness, so will be the resurrection.” Every one of us will have glory, but those who have turned many to righteousness will shine as the stars forever and ever. One thing we need to bear in mind is God is a Rewarder. We do not work for rewards, but there is a reward. We’re not working for the sake of what we get but believe me what we get will be in exact proportion to our faithfulness in this life; everyone of us including me.
Then Paul goes on,
“There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.”
Now we come to five changes that take place at resurrection. Five you know is the number of the senses. There are certain principles with numbers in the Bible. Two is the number of witness, seven is the number of the Holy Spirit, five is the number of things that are visible, that are sensibly perceptible. And so there are five visible perceptible changes that take place in our bodies at the resurrection, and I want to give you them all. First Corinthians 15:42,
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.”
Corruption means it’s perishable. It decays. The body that is buried is a decaying body. The body that will be resurrected does not decay. It’s incapable of decay. It will last for eternity. And then he goes on to say in verse 43,
“It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.”
Really there is nothing honorable about a human corpse. Let’s be honest. It’s not something we want to think about or dwell on. It’s the result of human sin. It’s sown in dishonor but praise God it is raised how? in glory! Amen. What a change from dishonor to glory. The third change,
“It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”
How weak we are. The strongest of us is so weak. And when we pay our last debt to sin, we die, that’s the ultimate expression of weakness. There is nothing weaker than a dead body. “It is sown in weakness, but it is raised in power.” How wonderful. And then he goes on to say in verse 44,
“It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. Now unfortunately the English translation is misleading. The word that’s translated natural is directly derived from the Greek word for soul. It is sown a soulish body, it is raised a spiritual body. Now in various languages, all the Scandinavian languages, they have a word själisk, in German they have a word zalish(?) and I’m sure they have it in Dutch, all those related cognate languages, and in those Bible translations – in the Scandinavian translations, in the German translations – the word is used is soulish. Natural doesn’t tell us anything. Soulish is what we need to know. It is sown a soulish body, it is raised a spiritual body.
Now what’s the difference between a soulish body and a spiritual body? I mean I charge nothing for this. It’s free but not many people have ever discovered this as far as I can see. You see you have to understand the nature of the natural body. When David in Psalm 103 wanted to praise the Lord, his spirit was ready but his soul was not prepared. And he couldn’t praise the Lord until he got the cooperation of his soul. So he said, “Bless the Lord O my soul. Come on soul. Wake up. Do something.” But it was the spirit that was working on the soul – on the body through the soul. That’s a soulish body.
But a spiritual body which you’ve never seen, I’ve never seen – the spirit directly controls the body. Now we do have an example. It’s found in Ezekiel chapter 1, Ezekiel chapter 1. This is a vision that started Ezekiel off as a prophet. And he had a vision of four living creatures. This was their appearance.
“They had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, each had one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. [And then we go on a little further.] Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went.”
They had spiritual bodies. They didn’t have to work through the soul. Where each one’s spirit wanted to go, they went. And then it goes on to say a little further on.
“Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went...”
So that’s what it is to have a spiritual body. We’re going to have a body that we don’t have to work through the soul to get the body to do things. The body responds directly to the spirit. If you think of all the things that your spirit would like to do and your soul is too lazy to do, you’ll realize what a blessing it will be when we have a spiritual body. We don’t have to stir up our soul to stir up our body; it will be a spiritual. Right now you and I have a soulish body. It’s controlled through the soul. You might say, in a way, the soul is the gear lever through which the spirit works on the body. But when we’re resurrected we’ll have a gearless system. There’ll be no need for a gear. The spirit will directly move the body. Now I don’t know how you feel about that, but it excites me. I mean, I like something that’s a little new and a little different. You can go for all your smart cars that you like; BMWs and so on, but I’m more interested in a resurrection body. That really is something that you can’t duplicate.
Let me say I do drive a Mercedes, myself. At least I used to when I had a license. I don’t have a license now because of my eyesight. Mind you it’s eighteen years old but it’s still doing very well. Anyhow let’s leave the subject of cars to one side.
It’s sown a natural or soulish body; it’s raised a spiritual body. One more change in verse 53.
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, [we’ve already seen that] and this mortal must put on immortality.”
That’s a change from mortal which is subject to death to immortal which is not subject to death. When we’re resurrected there’ll be no more death. Let me just repeat those five changes. I hope you’re excited about them. If you know you’re going to be resurrected you must be excited. If you don’t know you’re going to be resurrected, you probably need to get excited.
Number one, from corruption to incorruption. The present body we have is corruptible. You can take the best care of it, you can do all sorts of things for fitness and health, but nevertheless it’s corruptible, it is decaying. You can delay decay but you cannot ever finally eradicate decay. It is a decaying corruptible body. It’s a body of dishonor. It’s a body that’s under sentence because of sin and it’s going to pay a final debt of death and decay. So if we changes from dishonor to glory. I’m looking forward to a glorious body if I make it.
It’s changed from weakness to power. Have you ever felt frustrated at your own weakness? Believe me when you’ve lived eighty-three years you will. There are things that happen to me that I wish they wouldn’t happen. But they’re not permanent. It’s from weakness to power.
Then we’ve dealt with the fact that it’s from a soulish body to a spiritual body, and finally from a mortal to immortal. From a body that’s subject to death to a body that will never die. I’m just going to repeat those five again because they’re good news.
From corruption to incorruption.
From dishonor to glory.
From weakness to power.
From soulish to spiritual.
From mortal to immortal.
Now then, this is the most important question. How do you and I qualify to partake in the first resurrection? This is the most important practical question. It’s important for every person here this evening. Please listen carefully. I will tell you. You don’t need to miss it. What is the first and the basic qualification, it’s already stated in First Corinthians 15 verse 23,
“But each man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
That sums it all up. How can you qualify for the first resurrection? You have to belong to Jesus Christ. You have to be Christ’s. Now Jesus loves you but He’s a jealous Lover. Many times the Bible tells us God is jealous. I used to think that was one of God’s weaknesses. But it’s – I’ve suddenly, I’ve come to realize over the time, over the years it’s a mark of His love. Isn’t it amazing that the Creator should be jealous over a little piece of clay that He breathed His Spirit into? But He is jealous. There’s many, many passages. And we’re dealing with Jesus who is a jealous Lover. He loves you, He wants you for His own, but He will not share you with anybody else. He will not share you with the world and He will not share you with the devil. So if you’re going to take part in the first resurrection you have to know that you belong unreservedly to Jesus Christ. It’s only those who are Christ’s. Not almost Christ’s or partially Christ’s, but totally Christ’s. That’s the basic requirement. And I ask each one of you here this evening to begin to ask yourself, “Do I really belong to Jesus Christ, unreservedly and totally? Or are there areas in my life that are not surrendered to Him? Are there areas in my life where some other claim has been established, something else is demanding my affection, my attention?” If so at this time you would not qualify. You’ll have to change. You’ll have to put things right. You’ll have to make a total commitment to Jesus. That’s the first requirement.
And then as I was meditating on this I thought about a very remarkable statement in the book of Malachi. I won’t turn there but God is speaking and He says,
“Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated.”
And I want you to know that God is a Person with strong feelings. He loves but He also hates. And I began to think to myself, “Now why did God love Jacob?” He wasn’t a very lovable character in many ways. I think Jacob had one thing that redeemed – that commended him to God. He really wanted God’s best. Sometimes he went rather crooked ways to get it, but his priorities were right. He wanted the birthright. He wanted the blessing. On the other hand Esau, who should have had the birthright, was indifferent. He got hungry after a hunting excursion, came back and there was Jacob with what they call in Arabic______________ and my daughters here that grew up in Palestine will know full well will know what ______________ is. It’s lentil soup. And I want you to know when lentil soup has been prepared the smell permeates the house. And the only thing you can think about is lentil soup. I mean I love it. It’s delicious. Furthermore it’s very healthy.
So here comes Esau in from a long hunting trip, dying with hunger, and he smells this lentil soup. And Jacob, pretty sharp, says, “I’ll give you some. All you have to do is sell me your birthright.” “Well,” Esau says, “What good is my birthright. I’m hungry. All I need is something to eat.” And you know what God says about that attitude? God hates it. God hates an attitude that does not appreciate the birthright. It hates an attitude that’ll take some little fleshly thing and put it ahead of His birthright.
It could be many things. It could be food. Some of you honestly are enslaved by food to say the truth. It’s the most important thing in your life. It’s the thing you talk about most. It’s the thing you spend most time thinking about. It’s the thing you spend a lot of your money on. There’s nothing wrong with food if it doesn’t become an idol. But if it becomes an idol, if it takes too much of your time and your attention, you’re in the same category as Esau. There are many other things. There’s alcohol; there’s sex. We don’t need to go into all the list of temptations, but anything that takes a place in your life which takes precedence over God’s birthright, His blessing, His provision, if you go for that you know what; God hates it. God is a good Lover, but God is a good Hater too.
There are some of you here tonight you’ve got things in your lives that God hates and you’d better do something about it. You may never be told this again. You may never hear this message once more. Tonight can be your night. You’d better listen carefully.
So let’s turn to the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippines chapter 3. Now I would reckon that Paul was at least as committed as most of us here. Wouldn’t you agree with that? I mean, he was an apostle, he’d seen the Lord, he had gifts of the Holy Spirit, he’d preached and seen wonderful results. You said such a person as that obviously is a candidate for the resurrection. Paul didn’t think so and I think his opinion is pretty worth considering. I want to read to you what Paul says about taking part in the resurrection. Philippines chapter 3 beginning at verse 8, and Paul says,
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”
Please bear in mind your religious righteousness, you good acts, your church attendance, your prayers are not sufficient. You have to have a righteousness from God by faith. That is God’s righteousness. Nothing else is good enough. You can be a very religious person, very regular in your church going, you can give generously to charity, but if you don’t have God’s righteousness it will not get you into heaven. And Paul was very concerned about this. He said, “That I may not trust in my own righteousness but have the righteousness that is from God through faith.” And then he goes on in verse 10 and this is a verse that I’ve pondered over for many years and I’ve often asked myself, “Can I honestly say what Paul said?” Paul said,
“That I may know Him [that I can say] and the power of His resurrection, [Amen, I want power. But when you come to the next phrase I’ve often had to ask myself I wonder whether I can really say that,] and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
I’ve pondered on that a lot. I think today, by God’s grace, I can say it. I do want the fellowship of His suffering. I’d rather suffer with Jesus than be exempted from suffering and cut off from Jesus.
You see I served as a Medical Orderly and I want you to know I’m a Nursing Orderly Class 2 in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and I had to deal a certain amount with soldiers that had been through battle conditions. And I discovered one thing that when men go through a really tough time together, they may be very unlike one another in many ways, they may be on different social or intellectual levels, but they are bonded together in a way that nothing can break. I think that’s why Paul said that I might know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings. I want to be bonded with Jesus in a way that nothing can break. I don’t really think that we’re called to go through all that Jesus suffered for our redemption. We may go through some of it. But when it talks about the sufferings of Jesus I’m inclined to think it’s what He suffers today for His church. And really, brothers and sisters, if you see things the way I see them which is so far as I can achieve it from a Scriptural point of view, Jesus must be suffering a great deal for His church. Because we make so many professions, we make - we sing such wonderful hymns and choruses and we live such very unworthy lives. Is that true? I’m not critical. I’m talking mainly about myself.
Let me ask you this. Let’s go through it. “That I may know Him,” can you say amen to that? “That I may know the power of His resurrection.” Amen. Now what about “The fellowship of His suffering”? They all go together. You can’t know the power of His resurrection if you’re not willing to know the fellowship of His suffering. You can’t join the train just before it gets into the station. You have to get on in the previous station. See what I mean?
I want to say one thing. I don’t think anybody has a right to take it for granted that He will partake of the first resurrection. I think it’s a goal that we have to aim at continually. Listen to what Paul says.
“Not that I have already attained, [and he was a mature apostle with a record of tremendous successes,] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
So Paul didn’t take it for granted that he would attain to the resurrection. In spite of all his achievements he said “I have to keep on and keep on, and keep on keeping on. I have to reach the goal.”
I want to say personally I do not assume that I will participate in the first resurrection. I have to meet the conditions. I have to continue to meet the conditions. Paul said, “If by any means I may attain to the resurrection. No matter what it costs.” And he did not assume that he would. He had to meet the conditions.
So what about you? Do you believe in the resurrection? If you don’t you can’t be saved, because to be saved you have to confess Jesus with your mouth as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. So you’ve got to make up your mind; do you believe in the resurrection.
All right you believe in the resurrection. Then the next question is, are you Christ’s, do you belong to Jesus unreservedly, totally, spirit, soul and body for time and eternity? That’s the question you have to settle because Jesus is coming back for those who belong to Him. He’s not going to make a deal with the devil and say, “Well you give me part of her and I’ll take part of her.” No. He’s a jealous Lover. He loves you jealously, passionately, but being loved by Jesus is a tremendous responsibility. Do you know that? You can’t lead an ordinary life when you’re loved by Jesus. It makes you different. You can’t do things the way some other people do. You can’t talk the way some other people talk. You’re priorities have to change. In most cases I would say to most of you you’ve got to spend less time in front of the television. I mean it is a total commitment we’re talking about.
I wrote at the end of my little outline, which I haven’t exactly followed, but I’ve written this short sentence. No one will drift into heaven. It has to be your first priority. You have to belong totally and unreservedly to Jesus Christ. That’s not a terrible thing. It’s a wonderful thing. But you have to be clear in your own mind that’s what it takes. So let’s decide. I want to ask you. Do you as it now stands belong unreservedly to Jesus Christ? Can you say yes I belong to Him, spirit, soul and body for time and eternity, I am His? I believe I can say that. God, if I’m wrong, forgive me. But so far as I know my own heart, and mind and life, I belong to Jesus Christ. I’ve walked with Him fifty-eight years. One thing I can tell you is He’s a wonderful Companion. He’s the best Friend you could ever want. I’ve had wonderful friends and I thank God I still have them today. I’ve had two wonderful wives, much better than I ever deserved. But no one compares with Jesus. He’s all in a class by Himself. He’s perfect, He’s so loving, He’s so faithful, He’s so patient, He’s so understanding, He understands your weaknesses, He understands your temptations, He understands all that you’re going through, and if you will commit yourself to Him He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
My dear friends, I don’t think life is going to get easier on this planet. That’s the way I read the Bible. I think we’re in the beginning of the birth pangs of a new age, and I don’t mean what they call the New Age believe me. I don’t think you can look for an easy time in life. But I think you can have absolute confidence in Jesus.
So let me try and make it this way. If you’re not sure that you belong unreservedly to Jesus but you want to belong to Him, you want to give yourself to Him, you want to commit yourself to Him without reservation, then I want to give you an opportunity to do so here tonight. This will be the last opportunity you’ll have in this camp. Maybe the last opportunity you’ll ever have in life. So if you will just take a few moments to ponder on what I’ve been saying about the resurrection, about the clear cut issues, about what it means to be Christ’s; let me reemphasize, He’s only coming back for those who are His in this first resurrection. But you want to be amongst those, and you’re willing to make a commitment of your life to Jesus trusting His grace, not your religiosity or your cleverness, will you do something right now? Will you stand to your feet wherever you are in this auditorium and say, “I want to make a commitment? An unreserved commitment of my life to Jesus Christ,” wherever you are, will you stand to your feet?
Now I’m going to give you some very simple words to say, but if you say them with all your heart they’ll change your life. You’ll never be the same from this night forward. So I want you to speak it out just loud enough to hear yourself. You don’t need to shout or scream, but when you leave here you’ll know you’ve said these words in the presence of God and these people.
So you say these words after me. “Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you are the Son of God and the only way to God. That You died on the cross for my sins, You were buried and You rose again the third day. And now all authority in heaven and on earth is given to You, and because of what you did for me on the cross when you bore my sins and paid my penalty. On that basis I ask you now to forgive all my sins and to cleanse me in my heart from all unrighteousness and I commit my life to You now that You may be my Lord and my Savior, that I may belong to You now and throughout eternity. Lord Jesus because of Your mercy and because of Your promises I believe that You now receive me and I give You thanks. In Jesus’ Name.”
Now just take over and just begin to pray to Him yourself in whatever words come to you. Just say it out. Don’t look at me. Just begin to talk to Him.