The Case: Easter 2017
> For many years, we talked about getting back into the church. Through health issues with our family, we didn't attend regularly anywhere.
> I was going to another church. I had a bad experience. I got really hurt. So, I left that church.
> We had been in church ministry for a number of years. It had been a little bit tough sometimes and we just started to really feel burnt out.
> After my car accident, I was in a pretty dark place. I had already struggle before my accident with depression, anxiety and all of that.
> Well, whenever I first started coming to Grace, I was fresh out of high school. I was about to start going to college. I knew what I wanted to do for a career, but in terms of my social and personal life, it hadn't really developed quite the way that it has since I started going here.
> We decided to come and check it out and it really felt like home from the minute we walked in. The hug from Jennifer, the feeling that Grace and the entire church family brought to it, the hug from Chip as you leave. We've really felt how much that changed our life from strength in our relationship, from improving our family quality and interactions to giving us more opportunities to serve and to give back to people and to the community as a whole.
> Being at Grace, I enjoy Pastor Chip because he does not cram the Bible down your throat. That has made a very big difference for me coming to church again. Because, I was in it for a long time, got away from it, got that sour taste that he usually talks about.
> We're loved and accepted here and we are learning to love and accept others in a way that we never could have without being here.
> I think what used to really hit my heart a lot, especially when I first started coming to Grace, was how much God loved me, how God sent His own Son to die just for you and that it didn't matter what you did in your past, it doesn't matter what you're doing today and it doesn't matter what you're going to do in the future. Nothing can change the fact that God loves you.
> When I first came to Grace, I had a rough time becoming who I am and deciding who I am. I was very suicidal. But then, I came to Grace and I had support from everyone. I have so many people come talk to me. I got baptized and I dedicated my life to God. I know I gave everything to God's hands and I've been blessed ever since.
> Both Andy and I, when we first came to Grace, have gone through a lot of loss this past year. I've had a few miscarriages and I have had a lot of medical issues and surgeries. Through all of that, our faith was really tested. Every single week coming to Grace was being able to be filled back up again and rejuvenate that, I don't know, lost faith or hope.
> I came to church and I asked the church to pray for me because I was struggling and I wanted to get off of pain medication. I was tired of going through withdrawal and all of that stuff. And everybody on the church gathered around me and put their hands on me and prayed for me. It was such an overwhelming experience and I think two weeks from that day I was off the pain medication without withdrawal. I mean, it was incredible; miraculous.
> We are a living testimony to the resurrection life.
> I am a living testimony of resurrection life.
Awesome video. You know, some of you may be here this morning and maybe you've got a flyer or maybe somebody asked you to come. Maybe you promised your mom on Easters you would always go to church. We call it, internally, the CEO's. The Christmas and Easter Onlys. Maybe you're one of those. You might have seen that video and you're going, "You know, that sounds great. Sounds fantastic. But, I'm just sort of skeptical about all of that stuff."
I want to affirm something. Being skeptical and sometimes questioning things and using the mind that God has given us is not a bad thing. Let me give you an example. I think all of us, at some level, have either experienced this ourselves or we know someone that has had this happen to them: Bank fraud, credit card fraud or identity theft. In fact, it happens to about 20 million people every year in America. Now, if you have not had that happen to you, you definitely know someone who has.
But, here's the way it normally happens when it happens to you. You're just sort of out and about and your phone rings. It's that 888 number that you don't want to really answer, you know? So, you're like, "Well, I probably ought to answer it."
You're like, "Hello, this is Chip Bennett. Can I help you?"
They're like, "Mr. Bennett. This is SunTrust Fraud."
Or whatever bank it is. But, you're like, "Oh, great. I hit the jackpot today."
And they say, "Well, we need to ask you a couple of questions to verify your identity. What was the name of your first dog? What was the name of your cousin Helen's sister?"
I'm like, "I'm Chip!"
You know? So then, they say, "Okay, great. We've verified who you are. We have a question for you. Are you currently in Australia buying scuba gear to dive the Great Barrier Reef?"
"No, I'm eating a gordita at Taco Bell in Osprey, Florida."
And at that point, you know that you've been had, right? And here's the deal: Because we all know those things happen, we're skeptical when anybody asks us for information. They say, "Can I get your phone number? Can I get your address?"
Or you get an email that says, "Hey, if you could give us your bank account and social security number, we'd be happy to transfer some money in."
And there's a reason to be skeptical. There really is and there's nothing wrong with it. I want to affirm that. I want to say that it's warranted. However, if in your mailbox you went out and got a letter, certified mail, that came to your door, handed off to you, certified mail, and it's from a law firm you've never heard of, and you open it up and it says there is an Aunt Margaret that you're not quite sure even exists. But, in that letter, you go, "Hmm, Aunt Margaret?"
And the information that's in that letter is so profound and so life-changing, at some level it would be worth at least doing a little investigation or at least making a few phone calls to make sure that that letter wasn't real. Even though you would be skeptical, even though you might have doubts, there would be something that could be offered to you in a letter or some information or some amount of money that you would go, "You know what? I need to take just a minute, because this is such a great, incredible offer that I need to make sure that I'm not missing out on this."
So, what I want to do over the next few minutes is I want to present to everyone here that the most reasonable explanation for why Christianity even exists is because of what we celebrate here at Easter. And maybe you're here today and you're just like, "I've got my arms folded. I am skeptical. I saw that video. This is great that you believe this, but what's going on?"
You might have been around Christians before. You might have been around people that talk about Christianity. You might have grown up in the church at some point and got away. Unfortunately, so many people that talk about Christianity don't realize that the most reasonable explanation for why we do everything that we do is because of what we celebrate at Easter. Many people, when you ask them, "Why do you do what you do? Why does Christianity exist?"
They'll go, "Well, because the Bible. Right? I mean, the Bible says that we should do these things and, you know, somebody told me a long time ago that if I didn't believe the Bible then I can't be a Christian. So, it's got to be the Bible. Or isn't it like ethics and social positions? I mean, I was told by people that go to church that if I didn't do it this way or I didn't do it that way or I didn't vote this way or I didn't act this way that there's no way I could be a Christian. Aren't there creeds and some doctrinal things and interpretations that you've got to believe? I mean, isn't that really what Christianity is all about? Isn't it sort of a mixture of all of these things?"
I would like to tell you that that is absolutely not true. The reason Christianity exists is because of what we celebrate at Easter. These things aren't unimportant, but they're not the reason for why we have Christianity. We have Christianity for one reason: Because of what we celebrate here at Easter.
So, what I want to do over the next few minutes is present to you the case. I want you to lean in. I want you to use that mind that God gave you. I want you to reason through some things with me and I want to present to you that the most reasonable and plausible explanation for why we have all the things that we talk about, for why we even have a Bible, for why we have a church, for all of these things is not because those things created it. It was because of what we celebrate here at Easter. It's why all of these things exist. I want to do that by giving you some exhibits. And then, at the end, what I'm going to do is I'm going to ask you to give me a verdict. I'm going to ask you what you think.
So, I don't want anybody to feel like they got surprised or anything like that. So, here we go. Let's look at this.
Exhibit one. Exhibit one, we're going to call the Genesis of World Religions. Now, when I use the term "genesis," I don't mean "Genesis" like in the Bible; the first book. What I mean is genesis as starting points or origins or how the thing started. Here's the deal. There's a lot of people that spend their whole life studying religion. It's what they do for a living. They're professors; they're scholars. And what they've done is when they look at the world religions and they look at all the different things, they've come to a conclusion that the majority of the world religions that people follow and people adhere to sort of all have a same, similar way in which they got started. They have sort of the same genesis. They have the same deal.
And here's the way it works. Most people who study religions would say this is true. First of all, there's a powerful teacher. This sort of works for movements that you see as well. Just ground-swelling movements. It doesn't work just for religion. It works for all that stuff. There's a powerful teacher. And maybe this teacher is great at speaking. Maybe they've just got a wonderful gift and skill set of oratory. And people go, "Wow, that's just a great speaker."
Or maybe it's because they're just charismatic and people go, "You know what? I'm just drawn to that person. There's an X-factor or an it-factor on that person. That's a person I can listen to."
But, traditionally, this powerful teacher usually says things that are counter-cultural, usually says things that attract a lot of the younger generation, usually has things that are attractive because it's so counter-cultural. And as that person speaks and as more people hear them, what happens is they have a galvanized following. In other words, people go, "You know, this guy or woman was really powerful and they're so good that we're going to follow what this person has to say."
And as they follow this person and as life goes on, invariably, something happens. And what happens is this: The teacher dies. When the teacher dies, the people that are following this person, they all get together and they say, "Hey, this person was so powerful and we were following them. So, what we need to do is we need to sort of collect the sayings that this teacher had to say to you and me. Let's remember what they said. Because, by doing that, we'll be able to remember what this person says and we'll also be able to pass it on to posterity; to the future generations."
And many of you may be going, "Well, okay. Okay. So, what are you trying to say here? That Jesus and His disciples and then He died and some people went together and all of that? What are you trying to say?"
What I'm trying to say is whereas the world religions follow this pattern, I'd like to tell you that Christianity does not at all. And I'm going to explain to you why it doesn't. Not that there wasn't a powerful teacher and not that there wasn't a galvanized following and not that He died, but I want to talk about these two things because these two things are not why we have Christianity.
And to do that, I'm going to give you exhibit number two. Exhibit two is the Jewish-Messianic Expectation. A lot of big words. Let me explain what that means. If we could go back to the first century and we could get together a lot of people that would consider themselves part of Judaism, we would find, much like today, a lot of different beliefs. Believe it or not, there are forty thousand different Christian denominations in America. Forty thousand. It's like, "What in the world?"
And they argue over everything. The Bible that you read. The translation that you read. They argue whether or not Jesus had blond hair, black hair, brown hair. They argue over how you should read Genesis and what Revelation says, like anybody knows what that says. If they do, tell them they're crazy and they don't understand what it means. So, the deal is there's a lot of disagreement in the first century. You had Sadducees and Pharisees and Essenes.
But, here's the deal: Those who believe that there was a Messiah that was going to come, they understood what that meant. They understood what that meant because they knew what Moses had done in the Old Testament. Moses had delivered the children of Israel from the Egyptian bondage and had delivered them into the promised land. And, even though that was a failed enterprise, they believed, one day, a prophet like Moses, a prophet greater than Moses, would lead Israel in a military victory against Rome and would liberate the Jewish people. And they were looking for that.
There were hundreds of people that claimed to be the messiah before Jesus ever showed up, and there were hundreds of people that claimed to be the Messiah after Jesus died. People understood what a messiah was. A messiah was someone who was going to liberate Israel. And that's why, when Jesus comes on the scene and starts healing people and starts doing great signs and wonders, they're like, "Hey, we want to take You to be king."
And He's like, "I don't want to do that."
They're like, "Come on. We're going to do this."
And the disciple's like, "Hey, when You get in Your glory, can we be on Your right hand and Your left? Can we do this? Because, we know and we believe You're the messiah, man. We believe You're the Christ. We believe You're going to do great things."
Well, the Romans weren't dumb. They knew the stories of Israel and they had heard these stories about men that had conquered much larger armies by the power of God. So, the Romans knew how to stop a messianic movement. They knew how to snuff it out. They killed the person who was claiming to be the messiah. And most of the times, they hung them on a cross and they put, "King of the Jews," on the cross and said, "That's your leader? He's dead."
And here's what every Jewish person knew about a messiah: A dead messiah was a failed messiah. Which means, nobody who claimed to be a messiah, no matter how powerful they may have been, no matter how charismatic they may have been, no matter what the words that they had to say, when they died, none of the movement said, "Let's get together and collect the sayings. Let's relive the dream. Let's get some guitars and drums together and sing about him, talk about him and write it down."
No. When a messiah died, they moved on. And we see that in the biblical witness. We see the two Emmaus disciples that had come to Jerusalem who believed that maybe Jesus might be that messiah. We see them on the third day after Jesus has died headed back to Emmaus. They say, "But, we were hoping that He was the one who would redeem Israel. We were hoping. We thought maybe He might be."
They're not going, "Hey, we're going back to Emmaus and we're going to relive the dream, man. We're going to rally this thing together and write down some parables and some sayings and some things about Jesus."
No. They're going home done with the movement. Not only that, but Jesus' own disciples, the evening of the first day of the week, were gathered together with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. They were scared that they might be linked to Jesus being a messiah and they might find them and take their life too. Nobody was in the room going, "Hey, guys. Let's try to remember some parables. Let's remember some sayings. Let's relive the dream, man. Let's get the band back together and make this thing happen."
They were done. All the dreams and all the hopes were done. Period. And the reason being is because Jesus didn't get up. Jesus wasn't going to a first century Tony Robbins meeting. You know, He didn't get up and say, "Let me tell you the three steps that I've got for your life that will make you happy. Let me tell you how to put this in order in your life to get this right."
He didn't do that at all. What Jesus said is, "Hey, you've heard it this way? But, I say unto you."
Jesus' whole message was about Himself. It wasn't a collection of sayings to make your life better, to make your life happy, to use a genie to get together and rub a few things and make things the way it was. Jesus said, "Hey, here's the deal: I'm the way, I'm the truth, I'm the life and nobody comes to the Father except through me."
John the Baptist didn't get his disciples together when Jesus showed up at the Jordan and said, "Hey, guys. Come in here, man. Dude, this guy has got some dope teaching, man. This guy, He is off the chain when He teaches, man. He's got these three points, man, and then your life sort of happens."
He's like, "You need to really listen to Him, because He's got some great teaching."
John didn't say that. He said, "Guys, this right here is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world."
See, when Jesus died, it all died. Everything died. Nobody wanted to relive any dream. Nobody wanted to pick up and remember sayings or anything. The only plausible, the only reasonable explanation for why Christianity exists is because of what we celebrate today. Let's continue on.
Exhibit three. The women. Now, if you were going to create a great story about somebody that you wanted to get other people to believe in, the last thing you would have done in the first century is use women to be the tellers of the story. You may say, "Why?"
Because a woman could see you steal something in the first century and she wasn't allowed to testify against you in court. Because, a woman's word meant nothing. So, here we go on the day, Easter Sunday, and these woman have shown up to the tomb early in the morning. Here's the way the Gospel reports it.
"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared."
They knew that Jesus had been brought down from the cross on Friday and they knew that He had been, in a very hurried way, put into the tomb. So, the women showed up. You know why they showed up, right? Because, the men had done this on Friday. So, they wanted to make sure it got done right on Sunday. You understand that, right? I'm making sure you all understand that. It's important to understand. So, they bring the spices. They're not showing up thinking that Jesus isn't going to be there. They're showing up because they know He's there. They saw Him die.
So, they show up because they love Him. They're not, at this point, thinking He's anything other than dead. They're there to anoint Him and to give Him a proper Jewish burial. But, when they show up, they found the stone rolled away from the tomb and they went in and they didn't find the body of Jesus. Now, you would think that what this would tell us is that when they didn't find the body of Jesus, they went, "Yeah! Let's relive the dream now. He's not here. This is awesome."
Well, John tells us, in a parallel account, this is what they thought: "They've taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don't know where they've put Him. We don't know where He went."
See, the deal is there's people today that still say the same thing: "Well, it's pretty easy why they couldn't find Jesus' body. Somebody took Him."
Why would you want to record the very thing that would maybe discredit your whole thing with a bunch of women saying, "They took the body," unless this is really what happened. And while they're there, two men show up and they're angels."
And they say, "Hey, do you not remember? He told you He was going to rise. He's not here."
And they're like, "Oh. Well, you know, you're right."
So, what do they do? Well, they go back from the tomb and they reported these things to the 11 and all of the rest. Mary Magdalene. You're going to use Mary Magdalene? The one that was on the fringe and margins of society before she met Jesus? You're going to use her for a test? You're going to use Joanna whose husband works for Herod? These are going to be the women? Mary the mother of James and the other women? You're going to use women? I mean, what are they doing? They were telling the apostles these things. You mean the very first preachers were women?
Like, "Man, I'm not going to listen to a woman teacher. Paul said something about women teachers somewhere."
The women were evangelizing the men. And you'd think, at this point, "I know where the story goes. I know where it goes."
They told them the story and then the men go, "Yes! Alright! Let's relive the dream. We've got it. Alright."
Well, here's what they said: "The words seemed like nonsense to them. They did not believe the women."
See, the only reasonable explanation for Christianity is what we celebrate today.
Exhibit four: The early Christian testimony. Many of you all know that I am a professor. I teach college master's level and doctoral level classes. I usually teach systematic theology, hermeneutics and things of that nature. And I've got friends that believe similar to me. I've got friends that we disagree on a lot of things. And I've got some friends that couldn't disagree with me even more than they could. I mean, some friends I've got think the Bible's the worst thing that has ever been written, ever, ever, ever. They're scholars; they're doctors. They've studied this stuff. They think that it should be banned, we should take it all up and get rid of it. They think it's terrible for you all and everything else.
But, listen to this: From those people all the way to other people that I know, not one of them questions whether or not there was an Apostle Paul. Nobody doubts that. Not even a question. And there's not even a question that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. Nobody questions that at all. It's not even a point of contention at all. And nobody doubts whether or not 1 Corinthians was written within about 20 years of Jesus' death. Nobody questions any of that. What makes that profound is what he says.
He says, "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures."
Well, the church at Corinth would go, "Paul, come on, dude. We've seen people die, man. I mean, seriously? It's a good story. There's a feel-good to it. There's the resurrection to it. There's a feel-good story to it. But, I mean, Paul, dude. People die and they're dead. Everybody knows that."
He says, "Well, he appeared to Cephas (Simon Peter) and also to the twelve. You can talk to these people because they saw Him. Oh, and by the way, He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time. Five hundred people, guys. And just so you know, most of them are still alive. Some of them have died, but most of them are still alive. I can give you their names and you can go talk to them within twenty years of Jesus' death. Go talk to them. He appeared to them. They saw Him."
This is what Paul is writing to a church. They could've said, "No, no, no, no, man. There's people that know this story's not true."
We could have all the letters of antiquity. We could have all the letters of the Romans that say, "No, no, no, no. What Paul is saying is true."
Not one of them. He says, "Not only that, He also appeared to James."
That should've been an interesting deal. Because, after Mary conceived of Jesus, her and Joseph had other children. And you know what one of the brother's names was? James. What in the world would it take for your half-brother to fall down and call you God? I tried that once with my younger brother when I was 13. He hit me in the back of the head with a baseball bat. Anyway. That's why I'm messed up.
"He appeared to James and then, all of a sudden, all those other 70 plus people that we talk about, He appeared to them too. And not only that, He also appeared to me."
See, the only plausible explanation for why Christianity exists is because of what happened at Easter. Paul says, "If what I just told you is not true, then everything you believe is in vain."
Exhibit five: The radical change that we see in people's lives. Simon Peter. What do we know about him? Well, he was cussing and denying Jesus. He was hiding behind a door that was locked. That's who he was. What happened? What happened is what we celebrate here at Easter. Just a few weeks after Jesus' death, after he's cussing and in hiding, he appears on the steps of the temple. And on the steps of the temple, this man who has cussed, denied and ran says these words:
"Fellow Israelites, listen to these words."
Lean in here.
"This Jesus of Nazareth was a man attested to you by God with miracles, wonders and signs that God did among you through him, just as you know."
"You guys know it. It's not like I'm making something up. It's not like I'm standing here on the temple stairs and saying something that you don't know about. You know this story. You know about Jesus. You know what He did. And you also know something else. You killed Him. You took His life. And you know what? You need to say you're sorry. You need to repent for what you did."
And he doesn't go on to say, "The reason I'm saying this is because Jesus had this great collection of sayings that I want to tell you about," or, "Jesus had this thing on the way that you ought to live," or, "He's got this voters guide for you to do in the Palestinian election," or anything like that.
He said, "The reason I'm saying this, the reason I'm standing here, the reason I'm doing this is because something happened. God raised this Jesus and I saw Him. I witnessed this. And that changed my life."
See, what we celebrate at Easter changes everything. It's the biggest game-changer ever. It means that Jesus rose from the dead. Which means that what we celebrate at Easter, what makes Christianity exist, the reason we have a Bible, the reason we have a church is because of one simple thing: Resurrection. It changed everybody. They saw Him. And when they saw a dead man walking, it changed everything. Peter went from cussing and denying Jesus to, just 20-30 years in the future, dying a martyr's death for what he saw. He was crucified. But, he wouldn't allow himself to be crucified in a normal way because he didn't feel he was worthy to die the same way that Jesus died. He asked to be crucified upside down.
All for a lie? All of them? They just gave their lives? Boiled in water. Thrown off the temple. Stoned. No, no. They saw something. Five hundred people saw that. That is what Christianity is all about. It's about this: Did Jesus get up from the grave? Because, if He did, that means all those things that you're looking for in your life, for dignity and worth and value, are found in God. All of those things that you were looking for and hoping for are found in God. The desire to have a new life, the desire to move forward are found in God.
And you know what? God's got His thumbprint in the way He created this world and we don't even recognize it, most of us. We go to sleep at night in the darkness and we wake up in the morning with the light. God is preparing you every day as you go to sleep and then wake up, go to sleep and wake up. He is preparing each and every one of you for the eventual fact that you will have a resurrection at some point.
And here's the deal: Since He rose, eternity is real. And since Jesus rose from the dead, you and I can settle, once and for all, the issue of eternity. You're not here today by accident. You didn't show up today just because you got a flyer or somebody asked you to come. You're here because, before the foundation of the world, God knew your name and God sent His Son to die for you on a cross and to raise again on the third day. It's not what you do, it's not what you pray, it's not how you clean up. Christianity doesn't start with what we do. Christianity starts with what God has done for you and me.
This is your day. This is your time to settle, once and for all, eternity. Whether you've never done that or whether you feel like you've walked away or whether you feel like you're a prodigal, today's the day to come home. And I love people. Anybody who knows me knows I love people. The last thing I want to do is embarrass anybody or make anybody feel uncomfortable. There's no place in the Bible where it says to do something like this, it's just that I want to make it to where you and God could have a moment.
Here's what I'd like for you to do. I'd like for everybody, if you would, please bow your heads and shut your eyes. Because, I want to ask some people for a verdict today. I want to ask you to make a decision. Don't you want to settle eternity once and for all? You've heard the case. You've seen the truth. The only reasonable explanation for why Christianity exists is because Jesus got up from the grave. And if that's true, your life can be forever changed.
So, if you find yourself in here today going, "Man, you know what? I really do. I want to come home."
Or, "Man, I've been straying and I really need to come home."
I'm not going to embarrass you. I'm not going to bring a microphone back to you. I'm not going to do any of that. Nobody's going to see you but me and God. If you want to come home, if you want to settle eternity once and for all, what I'd like for you to do is would you just put your hand up in the air? Raise it up and put it up. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. A bunch, a bunch of people.
With your heads bowed, you don't have to pray this exact prayer. But, pray a prayer like this at your seat: "Dear Lord, I came in here today and I realized that maybe I've been confused a little bit about Christianity and confused a little bit about what it is. Lord, it really all hinges on whether or not You got up from the Grave. Lord, the only reasonable explanation for this is that You did. And Lord, if that's true, then that explains a lot of things in my life. God, I need You. I know I've done some things that are wrong and I'm sorry for those things. God, I want You to forgive me because I know Jesus came to forgive me. Lord, I believe You died for me and I believe You rose again on the third day. And I want to come home. Lord, I want to settle my eternity once and for all. Lord, I want You to be my Savior; I want You to be my Lord.
"So Lord, today I decided that I'm no longer going to be just living for me. Lord, today, I want to live for You. I want to walk out of here knowing that eternity is settled. I thank You for that, Lord. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, amen."
Can we give those who raised their hands a big hand clap? If that was you today and you raised your hand today and you said, "That's me," I'd like to challenge you just to do a few things. One, come back next week. We start a new series called "The Blueprint Myth." I'm going to talk about what God's will is for our life and maybe dispel some myths as to what people think it is and what it's not. It'd be a great time for you if you've decided, "Hey, I want to follow Jesus," to get some really good teaching and to be equipped on how to live this thing out.
I would also encourage you that on April 30th, after the 11:30 service, we're going to have a baptism. That would be the next step. You can call, you can email us, you can write it out there in the hub. We've got baptismal signs up. We'd love to have you get baptized. It's not weird. It's fun. It's a great time for everybody. We'd love to have you do that. Lastly, after you get baptized, we'd love to get you involved in Starting Point, which is a four-week class on the basics of Christianity. And you know what? That's for everybody. If you said, "Ah, I almost raised my hand," that's fine. Come back next week. Let's talk about this. This is not just a "let's raise our hand."
We want to have a journey. We want to tell other people about Jesus. We want to see you become all the Christians that God wants you to be and to walk out this life in a way that's fulfilling for you. That's the heart of this church. So, God bless you, for those of you all who raised your hands. What a joyous day today is. Let's stand up and let's do one more thing before we conclude with a prayer.
He is risen.
Let's give Him a big hand clap for overcoming death, hell and the grave. Happy Easter to all of you all from me, my family and the staff here at Grace. We love all of you all.
Dear Heavenly Father, as we leave here today, we pray that You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us. Lord, we thank You for the wonderful offer of salvation that You've given us. Lord, I pray that You'd bring us back safely to when we meet again. Lord, I pray that we would bring some people with us so that they could hear the wonderful, good news of Jesus as well. We love You, God. We thank You for Easter Sunday. We thank You for resurrection. We thank You that it has changed everything for all of us. And Lord, we love You. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen."
Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody.