Tag Archives: Death

Why I Believe In The Resurrection


Why I Believe In The Resurrection.001Two days ago my wife’s uncle died after a long battle with cancer. Death is not natural to life. It is not part of the original created order. We recoil from death we wish to be far from it. When we hear the footsteps of death coming for us we fight and some fear it.

Yet none of us speak of death in terms of “if” but always with the word “when”. Deep inside we know that one day we will “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Why do people die? Why do humans face pain and death?

There is one answer – Sin. When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race (Romans 5:12). Adam’s sin brought death and death spread to everyone, for everyone has sinned.

So what is your perspective of death and life? For most of us we share the “ground-level” perspective of the sisters in our text. In John 11:1-45 I want us to consider the perspective Jesus gives to us. An accurate perspective changes everything! What do you believe about death and life?

Today I want to share with you two overwhelming, undeniable life-changing reasons why I believe in the resurrection.

I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION BECAUSE OF THE SUPERNATURAL CHARACTER AND NATURE OF GOD

Jesus loves (3)

When the message came they identified Lazarus, not by name but by the phrase, “the one whom you love.” The word for love speaks of friendship love (3). In other words these sisters were saying to Jesus “the friend who you love is sick!”

They knew Jesus loved them! In verse five we again see the word love. Here it is the Greek word agape and this refers to the sacrificial, undying faithful covenant love that finds its source in God Himself. They knew that Jesus loved them and we know that God loves us! He tells us that He loved us and he proved that love to us:

John 3:16 ¶ “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus knows (3)

Jesus knew everything about Mary & Martha and the situation with Lazarus and Jesus knows everything about the situation you are in today.

Jesus knew that Lazarus was sick (1,3). And the fact that Lazarus was terribly sick did not change the reality of Christ’s deep, passionate, abiding love for him (5). Jesus knew that Lazarus had died (11-14).

Jesus cares (4)

First Jesus cares about the glory of His Father! Christ’s delay in coming to Bethany was to fulfill God’s purpose, and that purpose was ultimately the glory of God.

We may not know why we are in the situation or circumstance that we are going through, but God does!

Jesus says, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (4) Even in death, sorrow, pain, and tragedy – God is with us and God is at work carrying out His plan.

Second we see that Jesus cares that we develop faith. “Lazarus is dead, but I am glad I was not there, so that you might believe!” (15). Later when he arrived at the funeral home “he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” (33) Jesus wept (35). Jesus is our compassionate High Priest who feels our weaknesses and pain.

Heb. 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION BECAUSE JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE (25-26)

Jesus has the power over death and the power over life.

Mary & Martha believed in Him but their understanding of Him was incomplete. They were called to re-evaluate their faith. In times of tragedy, pain, death – we often respond this way: “IF ONLY!” “Lord, if you had been here, by brother would not have died” (21,32). God if only you had been here this would not have happened! But Jesus was fully aware of what was taking place and his delay was part of God’s plan. He could have rushed in and averted the death, but instead He was working for a greater purpose (6).

A couple years ago our family had traveled abroad and we took the kids to a fast-food restaurant that had an indoor play park. Corban was probably three at the time. A little bully pushed him off the top of the kids slide and then a minute or two later hit him in the face. All of my father-instinct wanted to snap up that little bully and teach him a lesson in defense of my boy. But instead I encouraged Corban to persevere – and yes if he gets hit again to defend himself. I think that incident gives me some insight into our text. Jesus could have saved Lazarus’ life and healed him from a distance, he could have spared Mary and Martha the pain, but instead He allowed it for a greater purpose – that they and us might believe!

Christ’s assurance – Jesus gave Mary and Martha the absolute certainty of the resurrection. “Your brother will rise again” (23). I know he will rise again at the last day was her response.

Job also believed this!

Job 19:25-26 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God.

Christ’s person – “I am the resurrection and the life.” (25) Jesus assured them that Lazarus would rise again because of who He is: I am LIFE!

Jn 14:6 – Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one will come to God the Father except through ME”

This is an exclusive claim! He is either telling the truth or he is the greatest deluded fool the world has ever produced! To stand in front of a grieving sister and claim to be the resurrector and giver of eternal life is either truth or the most wicked, gross kind of torture one could give to a grieving soul. Either Jesus Christ knew he was not what He claimed and thus He is a LIAR, or He really believed what He claimed but it was not true and He is a LUNATIC, or He is who He claims to be and you and I must fall before Him and acknowledge him as LORD.

Spiritual life cannot be extinguished by physical death

Those who believe in Jesus though they may die physically, they will live because He will raise them up. (25). In this text death is referred to as sleep because it was temporary (11,13-14)

Since everyone who lives and believes in Him has eternal life they will never die spiritually. Spiritual life cannot be extinguished by physical death. (26)

1Cor. 15:51 ¶ But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed.
1Cor. 15:52 It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die.
1Cor. 15:53 For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.
1Cor. 15:54 ¶ When this happens—when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die—then at last the Scriptures will come true:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
1Cor. 15:55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

Jesus asks Mary & Martha a question that forces them to make a decision: Do you believe this? (26) Do you believe that I am the resurrection and the life?

This is question is for you today: DO YOU BELIEVE IN JESUS?

This is a penetrating question!  Do you personally believe that Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life? It is one thing to hear it, discuss it, or argue about it, but it is another altogether to believe it , embrace it and trust it!

Death strips us of all pretense and exposes what we truly believe: “Yes Lord; I believe that you are the Christ (Savior) the Son of God (Diety) who is coming into the world.” (27). This is more than believing that Jesus is merely a historical figure, a great teacher, or a moral leader.

You are not being challenged to believe a fantasy.

Jesus proved He was who He claimed to be – He raised Lazarus from the dead, after four days, after the processes of death and decay were undeniable. (39,44) Jesus went on to demonstrate His power over death by rising from the dead on the third day! (20:11,15; 19-20; 24-29). He arose – death cannot dominate Him!

Rom. 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

Heb. 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

The proof that the gospel is true is that Jesus rose from the dead. The good news is that you can be forgiven for your sins and made a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.

Rom. 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

There is a coming resurrection of the dead (Jn. 5:24-29): one resurrection to eternal life, the other to eternal judgment.

Acts 17:30-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

There are three powerful implications of the resurrection:

  1. The resurrection gives authority & credence to everything He claimed!
  2. The resurrection proves His power over sin that is the cause of death and over Satan who places people in bondage through sin..
  3. The resurrection testifies to all mankind that Jesus is LORD!

And there are two possible responses to the resurrection:

  1. Some believe – they witnessed the resurrection power of Christ and put their trust in Him. (45)
  2. Some reject – in spite of the undeniable reality that Lazarus had died and was now alive, they rejected Jesus. (46)

What about you? Will you believe in Jesus today?

Download pdf Why I Believe In The Resurrection

Recovering From Grief


Recovering From Grief.001

The human capacity for grief is at times overwhelming! Time and again this year I have been face to face with people who are suffering deep grief.  In the past ten months I am aware of at least 10 ladies who husbands have passed away. Others have suffered the loss a son or daughter or parent.  Many are asking the question, “Will this ever get better?”

Recently I read an article written by June Hunt entitled, “Grief Recovery, Living At Peace With Loss.”  I share a portion of it here in hopes that it if you are grieving the loss of someone you loved, that you will find hope and comfort:

“Who has not questioned the reason for pain and suffering in the world? Certainly some people have become hardened by their losses, while others have become softened—God used their grief to cultivate in them tender, understanding hearts. Only days before His own death, Jesus traveled to the grave of Lazarus to comfort his two sisters in their loss. Jesus was not only deeply moved in His Spirit, but He was also weeping with Mary and Martha. It may seem paradoxical that Jesus—the Son of God, the one who turned water into wine, the one who multiplied the loaves and the fishes, the one who raised Lazarus from the dead—could not avoid grief in His own life. But the prophet Isaiah foretold that Christ, the coming Messiah, would be a man who would understand grief well for, indeed, He was … “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

What Is Grief?

  • Grief is the painful emotion of sorrow caused by the loss or impending loss of anyone or anything that has deep meaning to you. “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.” (Psalm 31:9)
  • Grief begins in your heart as a natural response to a significant, unwanted loss.
  • Grief is a God-given emotion that increases with knowledge about the sorrows of life. The wiser you are about the grief that people experience, the more you yourself will grieve. “With much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
  • In the New Testament, the Greek word lupe means “pain of body or mind. ”When Jesus told His disciples He would soon be betrayed and killed, they were filled with grief. The disciples were filled with grief.” (Matthew 17:23)

What Is Mourning?

  • Mourning is the process of working through the pain of sorrow that follows a significant loss. “Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.” (Lamentations 5:15)
  • Mourning (also called grieving), is a normal, healthy process that lasts for a period of time. God uses mourning in order to produce the ultimate healing of deep distress and sorrow. “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11)
  • Mourning evokes compassion and expressions of comfort from others. When Lazarus died, Jesus and many others came to comfort Mary and Martha. “Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.” (John 11:19)
  • In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word abal means “to mourn or lament. ”Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph. When Joseph’s brothers told their father, Jacob, that his favored son had been killed by a ferocious animal, Jacob went into deep mourning for days … and ultimately years.
    “Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.” (Genesis 37:34)

What Are the Stages of Healthy Grieving?

Emotional complications occur when we block the natural process of grieving. Have you ever told yourself, I need to get my act together. I’ve got to snap out of it. I should be handling this better!

These self-incriminating thoughts reveal unrealistic expectations about grieving and a failure to understand the grief process and the slow journey of restoration. While “stages” of grief do exist, they are not “stair-step” stages that you walk through in a specific order. In truth, people do not go through all the stages in a predictable fashion. People are unique in their individual grieving. Some stages may be experienced with varying degrees of intensity, some may be missed, and some stages may be repeated.

Give yourself permission to experience the inconsistent stages of grieving … trusting God to bring new life again. “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” (Psalm 71:20)

Crisis Stage

… can last from two days to two weeks. In this stage of grief, you are mechanically going through daily activities. You will experience many of the following characteristics:

  • anxiety/fear
  • appetite/sleep loss
  • concentration limited
  • confusion
  • crying uncontrollably
  • denial
  • disturbing dreams
  • exhaustion
  • feeling trapped
  • shock/numbness
    “My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief.” (Lamentations 3:49)

Crucible Stage

… can last up to a year or two or more, perhaps even until death if grief is not resolved. This time of sorrow will be accompanied by many of the following characteristics:

  • anger/resentment
  • anguish
  • appetite/sleep loss
  • bargaining with God
  • depression/sadness
  • guilt/false guilt
  • helplessness/lethargy
  • judgment impaired
  • loneliness/isolation
  • low self-worth
  • self-pity/victim mentality
  • intense yearning
    “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3)

Contentment Stage

… accepts the loss, leaving it in the past. This stage not only accepts that the present offers stability, but also accepts that the future offers new and promising hope. As this time approaches, the following characteristics will become more and more apparent.

  • experiencing greater compassion toward others
  • experiencing greater acceptance of others
  • experiencing greater appreciation of others
  • experiencing greater humility before others
  • experiencing greater dependence on the Lord
  • experiencing new ability to leave the loss behind
  • experiencing new patterns for living
  • experiencing new purpose in life
  • experiencing new hope for the future
  • experiencing new contentment in all circumstances
     “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.… For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 3:13; 4:11)

—–

If you are suffering through the stages of grief take comfort in the fact that you are not alone!  God understands your grief, He loves you and will walk this path together with you.

If you are in the Kitwe area and you would like to discuss what you are facing right now, please get in touch with me on 0976153466 or email me at philhunt66@gmail.com.  I would be happy to meet with you.

Blessings, Phil Hunt

Believe: One Man’s Journey of Faith


Journey of Faith

We have all faced moments of desperation! The circumstances in life spirals out of control right past all of our human wisdom and ability.

In such moments we are painfully aware that our resources, our influence, and our position in society are useless to meet the need.

  • It may be a personal illness, or the illness of someone you love.
  • It may be a broken relationship.
  • It may be a situation that threatens your present well-being or your future security.

When people face crisis they know there has to be something or someone bigger and more powerful than they are who to come to their aid. People in crisis often turn to God (or religion) in hope of finding that help.

September 11, 2001 was has become an infamous date in the history of the United States. On 9/11 terrorists flew hijacked passenger jets into buildings in New York City and Washington, DC. In the aftermath of this attack, the name of God was on every lip. Churches were suddenly filled with worshippers.

I have been working in S.Sudan since before the recent Independence. One thing that is clear when you visit S. Sudan – after two bloody civil wars lasting 50yrs, everyone believes in God. People publicly credit God for their victory over N. Sudan and for the birth of the nation. Churches in the capital city of Juba are filled to overflowing week after week, yet S.Sudan is riddled with corruption, social problems and political instability. The outbreak of hostilities along tribal lines has cost the lives of thousands and nearly 1 million people have been displaced due to the violence.

The lesson is this: trusting in God when you have a problem is not enough!

The man we read about in John 4:43-46 turned in desperation to Jesus. His journey in faith is instructive. His belief in Jesus grew from merely intellectual belief to genuine saving faith.

INCOMPLETE FAITH (43-49)

His faith is set against the backdrop of the Samaritans and the Galileans

All sins are forgiven for people who repent and believe in Jesus except unbelief. Unbelief is the damning sin! No matter what people do or how zealous for God they are unbelievers cannot please God.

Ro. 8:8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
In Samaria, the people believed that Jesus was the Messiah (4:42). In Galilee, Jesus own people are scandalized by Him!

Mt. 13:57 So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.

The Galileans were willing to believe in a Jesus who would revive their political hope, but they would not accept Him as a Saviour from their sin!

Jn. 6:15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

Jn. 6:64-66 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

The Samaritans accepted Jesus as the one who would meet their spiritual need! The people of Galilee believed in Him for what He could do for them, when he offered them spiritual bread they rejected it (6:26-27).

In Samaria they believed on Him as their Messiah. In Galilee the people would reject Him as Messiah and eventually some of them would doubtless participate with the mob in Jerusalem who call for his crucifixion.

His Faith is motivated by a desperate need (46b-47)

This man was an official in Herod’s court. He was a man of wealth, influence and power. It also means He was very likely a Gentile. None of this could help his current desperate situation – his son was dying!

The sad reality of a sinful world is that children do get sick and die. Everyone experiences suffering and sorrow – there are no exceptions.

Job 5:6-7 For affliction does not come from the dust,
Nor does trouble spring from the ground;
Yet man is born to trouble,
As the sparks fly upward!

Somewhere this Nobleman had heard about Jesus, and now he heard that Jesus had returned to Galilee… and he came desperate and determined to solicit Jesus’ help.

His faith was not driven by his own need of salvation, but by the desperation he felt because of the illness that was taking his own son’s life.

As already noted, many people are driven to Christ because of overwhelmingly desperate needs! These circumstances are tools of God’s mercy and grace. They can often be the start on the journey of faith.

He was coming to the right person but with the wrong presuppositions (48-49)

Jesus pointed out the weakness of his faith – ‘unless you people see signs and wonders you won’t believe!’ (See v. 45).

The faith of this man was incomplete, he did not fully understand who Jesus was: (49)
He thought Jesus had to be present to heal the son. Jesus being God was not limited by time or space. He could as easily heal from a distance as He could if he were present.

He thought Jesus had to heal his son before he died. He again did not fully understand Who Jesus is. Jesus has absolute power over death.

People today often think of Jesus in similar terms. He is acknowledged as someone extra-ordinary, a great teacher, a good man, even a prophet from God; but they fail to understand that He is all of those things, but much more! He is God!

GROWING FAITH (50)

He believed Jesus’ word (50a)

This man heard the calm command and assurance of Jesus and believed Him. His faith was demonstrated by obedience, “he went his way.” This man had not seen his son recovered and in good health. He had the word of Christ, and somehow that was enough!

Heb. 11:1-3 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

They key is believing in Jesus – this is God’s will!

John 6.27 (NLT) But you shouldn’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that I, the Son of Man, can give you. For God the Father has sent me for that very purpose.” 28* They replied, “What does God want us to do?” 29* Jesus told them, “This is what God wants you to do: Believe in the one he has sent.”

The issue is not the size of your faith it is the object of your faith! (50b)

Faith as small as a mustard seed is enough to “move mountains” (Mt. 17:20). Jesus is teaching us that it is not the amount of faith that matters, but that you have placed your faith is in the right object!

Someone has well said, “Everyone believes in something if only themselves.”

Who/what is the object of YOUR faith?  You might be asking right now, “how can I determine whether or not I have genuine saving faith or not?”

You can identify the object of your faith by identifying who you are serving!

No one can serve two different masters (Mt. 6:24)! Faith is demonstrated by faithfully serving the Master! (Lk. 17:5-10)

REWARDED FAITH (51-52)

Faith became sight his son lived! Our faith will also be rewarded. One day we will look on Him in whom we have believed! (51)

Rev. 1:7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

The connection between the recovery of the son and the timing of Jesus proclamation is undeniable! (52)

It was the time that Jesus had spoken to him. This gracious act of Christ convinced this man that Jesus Christ was God! Who else could heal from 15 km away? This Nobleman was positive now that Jesus was the sent one, the Messiah. And that led him to the final stage on his journey of faith…

MATURE FAITH (53)

He believed!

The nobleman put his faith in Jesus Christ. When faith comes to maturity it accepts Jesus as Light, Life, Lamb, Savior!

You must realize that saving faith is much more than simply assenting to a list of facts about Christ! Many people claim genuine saving faith but on the Day of Judgment will be rejected by God.

Mt. 7.21-22 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

They believed!

The mature, saving faith of this man influenced his entire household to put their faith in Jesus Christ!

Mature faith in Jesus is something that is shared – it is convicting, it is convincing!

CONCLUSION

This is the second sign Jesus had done in Galilee (54)! A sign points to something, and this sign points us toward the goal of the journey of faith! John included this miracle of Jesus to the intent that you and I might also believe in Jesus! The Galileans should believe in Jesus and when we read this account we should too!

John 20:30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

No matter who you are or what you are facing your current circumstances are signs pointing you to Jesus – Believe in Him today!

Who you serve will be evidenced by who you obey this week!

Download the .pdf copy of Believe, One Man’s Journey of Faith