Saturday, March 30, 2013

Out of The Darkness

The following sermon is to be preached at our Easter Sunrise Service at BSBC on March 31, 2013.  Should God provide weather suitable, we will meet outdoors as we have for the previous four Easters I've shared with this fellowship.  I'm deeply indebted to a sermon entitled "Out of The Night" by  Dr. R. C. Campbell for the framework of this message.  Dr. Campbell was the longtime Pastor of FBC, Columbia, SC.

John 20:1

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

Mark records the darkness which, for three hours, cloaked the area as the Precious Holy Son of God suffered upon Golgotha’s Hill.  We can only imagine the darkness of those hours before Mary went to the tomb that brisk Sunday Morn.  Men fear the darkness.  We invent instruments to punch holes in the darkness, lest we stumble unawares upon some thing capable of doing us harm.

I’ve told many times of those days of childhood when I would cross the creek alone at night while imagining all sorts of creatures waiting in the darker shadows of trees and brush to pounce upon me.  A few timid steps upon the bridge, then running all out to gain clearance from that abyss where my imagined enemies lay.

Perhaps the darkness the followers of Christ endured was such that they hardly thought light would ever again emerge to wash their faces in its glow.  Upon hearing Mary’s report the men rushed to investigate and verse 10 seems to suggest that they were resigned to their fate, for we’re told there that they “...went away again to their own homes.

But the night does give way to light, banished by the light of God’s great love for in verse 18, this same Mary excitedly reports not a message of despair and resignation, but one of hope and victory when she exclaims that “...she had seen the Lord.

There are several ways in which darkness is experienced, this morning we’ll mention two of those ways..

1.    The Darkness of Sin

Sin is a black diabolical monster.  It nailed the sinless Christ to Calvary.  It robs the vitality of youth.  It steals the virtue of young women.  It robs children of their innocence.  Sin causes fathers and mothers to divide the home.  Sin explodes bombs in subways, fires bullets in classrooms. 

Sin pilots airplanes into skyscrapers, and stirs the lynch mobs to unthinking, irreversible action.  Sin intoxicates drivers who endanger innocent victims with their vehicles.  Sin captures the will with drugs, often driving them to suicide.

It is sin, Dear Friends, which energizes those who would abrogate your freedom to worship Holy God.  It is sin which teaches children about their “rights” rather than their “responsibilities,” thereby fomenting rebellion against parental authority, and eventually all authority.

It is sin which moves a feckless dictator of a small country to threaten the world with war, in order to obtain the personal adulation he craves.  It is sin which empowers cultic agents of ungodly religions to threaten the world with their hatred Jesus Christ.

But Jesus brought forth His light upon the darkness of sin, and it can no longer hold men in its fell sway.  But Jesus came forth, having paid the penalty for sin demanded by The Righteous God of Glory.  He satisfied the demands, and because God raised Him up, it validates God’s acceptance of His sacrifice.   You and I no longer need be slaves to sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

2.    Darkness of Death

Listen, Dear Ones.  When man sinned in the garden, death entered into the realm of men.  All of us have been touched by the departure from this life of those we hold dear.  We realize it is a reality of living in this age, and with only a couple of exceptions, every individual born upon this earth has or will die, unless Christ returns first.

Diane and I have a little girl who died at birth.  Deanna would have been a young woman now, probably married and with children.  She never nursed at her mother’s breasts, nor ever felt the touch of Daddy’s lips on her cheeks.  She never learned to sew and cook, and of course that most wonderful of all feminine activities, to shop.  Diane and I never saw her in a ball game or at the piano.  We never saw her knell ask Jesus to become her Lord, or walk down an aisle to become the loving wife of a Godly man.  Yes, death is real in this age, and yes this body suffers corruption in the grave.

But the darkness of death has been defeated.  The Risen Christ is our assurance of that. 1 Corinthians 15:45ff tells us this, “And as it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’  The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.  The first man was of the earth made of dust, so also are those who are made of dust and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.  Now this I say, brethern, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God: nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory?’

With King David, we believe we’ll see Deanna again.  That all our loved ones who have gone on before who were born again children of God live today, and that one day their bodies will be raised up incorruptible and immortal.

The darkness of death has been driven out by brightness of the light of Christ’s Resurrection.  As one man has said, “Resurrection morning means DEATH  TO DEATH.!”

Christ has come forth out of the darkness into the brightness of the day!  He Lives!!  He Lives!!  “Death could not keep its prey, He tore the bars away, Jesus My Lord!”

©            2013          Mike Rasberry