Calvary Road Baptist Church

“HE IS NOT HERE”

Matthew 28.6; Mark 16.6; Luke 24.6 

Here we are, gathered together on this Easter morning to celebrate the resurrection from the dead of the Lord of glory, the Lord Jesus Christ. I propose that this morning’s celebration be just a bit different than is usual. Please bear with me. All around the world, on every continent, there are those who claim to be Christians who are observing and commemorating the Lord Jesus Christ’s stupendous victory over sin, death, Hell, and the grave almost 2000 years ago. And it was certainly a great victory that our Lord Jesus wrought. Amen? He accomplished something that Buddha never thought of. Mohammed never gave thought to personally save men from their sins. And in the process of shedding His precious blood for the sins of mankind and then rising from the dead our Lord Jesus left behind Him an empty tomb.

Who else did that? To what so-called great religious leader’s tomb can you go and find it empty? But the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a certainty as sure as any fact of history. The great Christian apologist Josh McDowell insists that there is a greater statistical probability for the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead than for William Shakespeare’s authorship of Macbeth. The resurrection is foundational to our Christian faith.

So, that’s good. But there’s a sad element every time Easter rolls around. And I suppose the sadness, for me, comes in part from the fact that I was a complete heathen before I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior. So, I was never conscious of any religious or spiritual observances. Of course, there was Christmas. But Christmas isn’t a spiritual observance for most people. It’s an excuse to spend money. You see, before I trusted Christ I almost never went to Church. I didn’t even go to Church on Easter. I mean, I made no pretense of being a Christian, to myself or anyone else, either. So, when I see all these people observing Easter, it makes me sad, in a way. I’m sad because of the great disparity that I see between the lives of people who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the lives of those written about in the Bible who also celebrated the resurrection of Christ. Folks, there sure is a difference between the way Christians laid it on the line in those days and the way professing Christians live their lives nowadays.

I mean, everyone gets a hoot out of reading what the angel said that Saturday evening, just after sundown, to the two Marys who came to the tomb where He was buried three days before: 

“He is not here.”[1] 

And we get just as thrilled when we read that, hours later, when the women came back to the tomb in disbelief at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning, the angel said to them a second time, 

“He is not here.”[2] 

But it seems that those who trusted the risen Savior back in Bible times had something happen to them that doesn’t seem to be the experience of very many so-called Christians these days. For example: The Corinthians had been fornicators and adulterers, thieves and drunkards, as well as same-sex fornicaters and extortioners before they trusted Jesus Christ. But after their conversion, the Apostle Paul writes in First Corinthians 6.11, 

“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 

Did you notice that word? Were. Additionally, in those days Christians would die rather than deny the Savior. They would die rather than blaspheme His holy name. They would endure all sorts of persecution in their determination to worship and serve and glorify Him. But nowadays we have so many who claim to be Christians who play golf instead of go to Church, who play professional sports instead of faithfully serving God in a Church, who sleep in instead of worshiping God with other believers, who get drunk with wine rather than be filled with the Holy Spirit, and who bicker and rail against each other rather than dwell together in peace.

Seeing all of this, I think to myself, “What’s happening to the cause of Christ? How can these people be saved, really be Christians, and do these things?” Now, remember, I’m not the guy living in the glass house and throwing stones. I am fully aware of my unworthiness in the sight of God. I am painfully aware of the before and still astonished by at the after. But since I was saved I stopped the boozing, I stopped spending my money on wickedness and vice, I ended the nonstop stream of profanity, and I would never dream of playing golf on a Sunday morning, fishing on a Sunday morning, or robbing God when the offering plate goes by by not tithing. And none of this because anyone makes me. This is what I want.

So, I started praying and asking God, “What’s happening?” What happens when someone places his faith and trust in Jesus, making no attempt to work his way to heaven because he knows that salvation is not of works, but there is still too often a non-supernatural life? Must we not at least consider what the Lord Jesus Christ said during His Sermon on the Mount early on in His earthly ministry, the words recorded in Matthew 7.21-23? 

21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 

In my message this morning I propose to you one of the considerations that should not be discounted when seeking to answer this perplexing question: “Why do people who have trusted Jesus as their Savior not live like people in the Bible who have trusted Jesus as their Savior?” Consider this answer: Just because his name is Jesus doesn’t mean he’s the Savior. Trust him all you want. Place your faith in him all day long. But that doesn’t mean that he can save you from your sins. When Simon Peter said to the religious rulers of Israel, 

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,”[3] 

he was referring only to the Jesus Who is the Jesus of the Bible.

But who do people so often place their faith in these days? I submit for your consideration that it may not be the Jesus of the Bible. It may not be the Jesus who saves. I say this because if you trust a Jesus who is not the Jesus of the Bible you are not saved. The verse I just quoted tells us as much. As well, did not the Jesus of the Bible warn about false Christs arising? He most certainly did, in Matthew 24.24 and Mark 13.22. Let me clear. I have no doubt that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, left heaven’s glory and was born of a virgin named Mary, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary, rose from the dead on the third day, and then ascended to the right hand of the Father on high where He is presently enthroned. Then, He dispatched the Holy Spirit of God on the Day of Pentecost to empower the Church and make way for the indwelling of believers. The result of this that we celebrate on Easter Sunday?

The lasting physical evidence seen first by the women and later by the apostles was the empty tomb where His body had been placed, empty now because He is risen. And what does the empty tomb speak to? 

Sins Forgiven! 

Hearts Full! 

Tears Dried! 

Satan Obliterated! 

Holy Spirit Imbued! 

Prophecy Fulfilled! 

God Vindicated! 

Hope Secured! 

Blood Presented! 

Paradise Emptied! 

Heaven Opened! 

Christ Victorious! 

Life Worth Living! 

Church Empowered! 

Gospel Completed! 

On this Easter morning, as we celebrate the resurrection of the Savior by remembering the angel’s words, “He is not here,” let’s ask ourselves this question: “Then, where is He?” Ask yourself that question right now. Where is Jesus Christ, the Jesus of the Bible, right now? Write down your answer on a piece of paper without showing the person next to you. Finished? Good. Now, let’s examine the various Jesuses that people have put their trust in today.

As we proceed, please consider my tone and demeanor. I seek to offend no one this morning. My purpose is not to shock anyone. My purpose is to lay open the clear, unvarnished truth about important matters related to the only Savior of sinful men’s souls, Jesus Christ the righteous. Where is Jesus Christ, the Jesus of the Bible, right now? Not every branch or denomination of Christianity will answer in the same way.

How about we ask different groups? Their answers may explain much of what troubles Christendom this morning: 

First, THERE IS THE JESUS WHO IS IN THE CUP 

This is the Jesus of Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Episcopalianism. Please listen carefully: If you ask a devout Roman Catholic where Jesus Christ is, particularly a Catholic priest, he may very well give to you a most strange sounding answer. Strange sounding to everyone that is, except someone who is Roman Catholic. Understand that I am not speaking disrespectfully or being in any way disingenuous. Again, regard my tone of voice as well as my attempt to reflect accurately the truth.

Roman Catholicism teaches that when the priest blesses the host during the Mass, the wafers are miraculously turned into the literal body of Jesus Christ. And when the wine is blessed it turns into the literal blood of Christ. This is referred to as transubstantiation. Eating the wafer and drinking the wine is thought by Roman Catholicism to be eating the very body and drinking the very blood of Jesus Christ and thereby providing nourishment for your soul.[4]

There are two reasons for insisting why the Jesus who is in a cup is not the saving Jesus of the Bible, whether the Catholic variety, or the Lutheran or Episcopal variations on the Catholic theme.[5] First, because that distortion of the communion of the Lord’s Supper which Catholics call the Mass is described by the Church of Rome as the unbloody sacrifice of Christ afresh and anew. However, Hebrews 9.22 teaches us that where there is no bloodshed, there is no remission of sins. The verse reads, 

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” 

So, if the Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of Christ then it is according to the letter written to the Hebrews the useless sacrifice of Christ. Second, the Jesus who is in the Catholic cup is not the saving Jesus of the Bible because the Mass, in which the wafer and the wine are supposedly transformed into Christ’s body and blood, is a ritual that is repeated over and over and over again. But Hebrews 9.28 is just one of several New Testament passages that clearly shows that Jesus was offered for men’s sins only one time: 

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” 

Are you trusting in some Jesus in a cup to save your soul? Then your soul is still lost, and you are still dead in trespasses and sins. You need to come to the Bible Jesus. 

Next, THERE IS THE JESUS WHO IS IN THE HEART 

Ask almost anyone who attends a mainline denominational church, and he will tell you that he knows he is a Christian because, he will say, “I have asked Jesus to come into my heart.” There is a serious problem with that kind of testimony: There is no place in the Bible that remotely hints, suggests, or implies that salvation takes place when Jesus enters a sinner’s heart. Please, go home and look through your Bible. You will not find such a thing suggested in any of the verses that speak to the matter of salvation. Besides, how in the world can someone who is between five and six feet tall fit inside your heart? Remember, at the time of the incarnation the Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself human flesh. And though it is a resurrected body at this time, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ is a completely human body. Human bodies do not fit inside the hearts of other human beings.

To be fair, perhaps people who say they’ve taken Jesus into their hearts are using symbolic language. Perhaps they are speaking in metaphors. But, folks, there is no parallel to that metaphor anywhere in God’s Word. The whole Bible doctrine of forensic justification by faith in Jesus Christ is based upon the fact that justification of you takes place because of what Jesus Christ did outside you. At no time when someone is saved does Jesus Christ encroach upon that person’s physical body in any way.

The Holy Spirit does indwell the believer at the time of conversion.[6] But we must understand that the Persons of the Godhead and their ministries are distinguished in Scripture. Jesus does not come to live inside believers.[7] Those who think He does are somewhat confused about who He is and what He does. He is the God-Man. He is God who became a man. And as such no one can take Jesus into his heart to be saved.

Tragically, this is how the Gospel is so often presented today. That this confusion occurs so frequently is a testimony to the spiritual troubles of our day, rather than being a testimony to be glad about. If you wrote down, a few minutes ago, that Jesus is in your heart, there is some confusion that needs to be addressed. Either you trusted Christ but have become subsequently confused (which is entirely possible, as Paul’s letter to the Galatians shows us), or you need to be saved the Bible way by the Bible Jesus, not the shrinking Jesus. The shrinking Jesus who fits into a ventricle of your heart has no more power to save than does the Jesus who rests in a cup. 

Third, THERE IS THE JESUS OF THE BAPTISTERY 

Let me begin by introducing you to Alexander Campbell. Alexander Campbell was a Scots-Irish immigrant to the USA who led a reform effort that is known to historians as the Restoration Movement, and by some as the “Stone-Campbell Movement.” Campbell emphasized a return to what he claimed to be original Christianity as found in the New Testament and his group merged with a similar movement in 1832 that began under the leadership of Barton W. Stone.[8]

The religious movement subsequently known as Campbellism and adhered to by groups known as “Church of Christ,” “Christian Church,” and “Disciples of Christ,” have some distinctive doctrines that do not reflect Bible truth about salvation. In addition to denying that anyone can know for sure that he is saved and that only they have the gospel, so-called Campbellites believe that baptism by immersion washes away the sins of the repentant sinner. For that reason, I refer to the Jesus of Campbellism as Jesus in the baptistery.

Although over the last few decades many of this persuasion have succeeded in concealing what they believe about baptism washing away sins, there are some characteristic beliefs that expose their unscriptural stands on various issues. So, if you don’t take notice of the name of the church being a Church of Christ, or a Christian Church, or a Disciples of Christ congregation, here are some clues that should help you: As I said earlier, they believe that salvation is not secure and that assurance of salvation is not possible. In other words, they believe that Christians can not only lose their salvation but that Christians can never be certain they are going to heaven. But there’s another practice that most Campbellite congregations follow, though not all. They conduct their worship services without musical instruments of any kind, believing that musical instruments are of the devil. That’s a tough one to convince folks about who are open-minded and knowledgeable of the Bible since worship in the Old Testament involved musical instruments.[9]

The soul-damning heresy of this movement, however, is not their insistence on having no musical instruments involved in worship. It is that remission of sins is to be found in a baptistery. They believe immersion in water results in the remission of sins. However, if they were consistent about someone losing his salvation, and about not having the assurance of salvation, you’d think they would insist on being baptized each and every time they attend church . . . just to make sure.

The upshot of it all is this: If you think you must be baptized in order to be saved, if you think you will not go to heaven without being baptized, you are one who believes in salvation by works, just like Roman Catholicism, just like Episcopalianism, just like most of Lutheranism, and just like so many mainline denominations. However, such directly contradicts, first Titus 3.5, and then Ephesians 2.8-9: To Titus, Paul wrote, 

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.” 

To the Ephesian Church, he wrote, 

8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9  Not of works, lest any man should boast. 

What does this mean? It means that a Jesus who is found in baptismal waters cannot save you. You need to be saved by the Jesus of the Bible. 

HERE IS ANOTHER ONE. 

IF YOUR JESUS IS IN THE CUP, HE CANNOT SAVE YOU. 

IF YOUR JESUS IS IN YOUR HEART, HE CANNOT SAVE YOU. 

IF YOUR JESUS IS IN THE BAPTISTERY, HE CANNOT SAVE YOU. 

BUT THERE IS ANOTHER JESUS PEOPLE RELY UPON, OR TRY TO RELY UPON, WHO CANNOT SAVE. 

HE IS THE JESUS OF THE NEW AGE. 

This is the Jesus who is everywhere. Think about that viewpoint for a moment. Can Jesus be everywhere?[10] Remember, He has taken upon Himself human flesh. So, though He is glorified, He is still voluntarily limited by a glorified human body. That means Jesus is not now and cannot be everywhere at one time. He must always and forevermore occupy a place, a particular location, at least if He is the Jesus of the Bible. This is supported by no less than twenty-eight Bible passages that locate Him at present in heaven.[11]

Though the issue divided Lutherans from Reformers centuries ago, the modern version of Jesus being everywhere is a by-product of the New Age movement’s influence on our churches. And no matter what anyone calls it, mark it down that the New Age movement is nothing more than Eastern religion in disguise, specifically what is termed Eastern Pantheism. And Pantheism is the notion that God is everywhere and is indistinguishable from his creation.

Read Psalm 139, and you will readily see that God is omnipresent. God is everywhere. No doubt about that. That said, God must be clearly distinguished from His creation. As well His Son, since taking upon Himself human flesh so that He might offer Himself a ransom for our sins, is continually located. Jesus Christ has a location, and He is distinct from His creation. This is seen in Acts 1.9-11: 

9  And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 

So, if you are trusting in a Jesus Who is everywhere, you are not trusting in the Bible Jesus, in the Savior Jesus. As a matter of fact, you are trusting in an imaginary Jesus whose humanity has been diminished just as all the previous Jesuses I have referred to are imaginary. 

WHO YOU NEED TO TRUST IS THE JESUS OF THE BIBLE 

Turn in your Bible to Mark 16.19. This is the verse you show the person who trusts the Jesus in the cup. This is the verse you show the person who trusts the Jesus in his heart. This is the verse you show the person who trusts the Jesus in the baptistery. And this is the verse you show the person who trusts the Jesus who is everywhere: 

“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” 

And why can this Jesus save you from your sins while the other Jesuses cannot? Because this Jesus is the One who is in the Bible. He is not the figment of someone’s imagination. And He does not contradict God’s holy and infallible Word. It is He who Scripture spends so many words describing, and who said of Himself, 

“in the volume of the book it is written of me.”[12] 

Please understand that our Savior’s given name was a very common name back in the day. Further, understand that there is nothing magical about His name, though I love the words of the song that say, “There’s just something about that name.” Someone with the same name as Jesus, but who is not the same person Who is the Son of God so vividly portrayed in the Bible, is someone who cannot save you from your sins.

Oh, you can trust him, this or that other Jesus. And many people do trust a wafer for their soul’s salvation. Millions of others trust in these other Jesuses. But only the Jesus who has a real human body, who is even now seated at the right hand of the Father, who is the sinless Son of God, who is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, whose name is called Wonderful, who was born of a virgin named Mary, who shed His blood for my sins and yours, is capable of saving you from afar (as He must do if He is in heaven) and not by coming into your heart. 

Think about it for a moment those of you who think you tried Christianity and it didn’t work for you. What were those first century Christians like? Oh, I know that they had problems from time to time. Don’t we all? But, in general, they experienced such peace and harmony, such joy. And what a level of personal commitment to the Savior they had. Amen?

Ever wonder what produces such spiritual unity? Ever wonder what results in such boldness and commitment to the cause of Christ? Ever wonder what causes such a changed lifestyle, such a supernatural lifestyle? It comes from trusting, not someone named Jesus, but the actual Jesus of the Bible. Is your life different than it once was? Have your sins truly been cleansed by the shed blood of the Bible Jesus? Do you presently have the resurrection life of the raised from the dead Savior? If not, then perhaps you should consider revisiting this whole issue of sin and salvation to make doubly sure. After all, what could be more important than the salvation of your eternal and undying soul by trusting the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible?

And could it not also be that those who think they have tried Christianity only to conclude that it doesn’t work for them have not tried Christ at all, but some imitation of Christ? I have found that to be the case with many.

__________

[1] Matthew 28.6

[2] Mark 16.6

[3] Acts 4.12

[4] https://carm.org/transubstantiation

[5] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/consubstantiation

[6] Romans 8.9

[7] Those few verses that are thought by some to teach Christ’s indwelling of believers are, in fact, verses that show Him to be perfectly represented by the indwelling Spirit of God. The Spirit indwells while the Savior is enthroned in heaven.

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Campbell_(clergyman) 4/12/2017

[9] Exodus 15.20, 21; Numbers 10.2–10

[10] The issue of Christ’s ubiquity was an issue that divided Lutherans and the Reformers, according to John McClintock and James Strong, Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 9, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891), page 217.

[11] Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 13.1; 14.2-4; Acts 1.9-11; 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; 6.9; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

[12] Psalm 40.7; Hebrews 10.7

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org