Pastor Ron Swanson
Mar 19, 2018
While reading the Easter story this week, I was captivated by five questions that Pilate asked as Jesus stood before him. None of the questions are trivial. Rather, they’re probing questions that each of us must answer before leaving this life. How we answer them will ultimately determine our eternal destiny.
1. What Accusation Do You Bring Against This Man?
The first question had to do with the Pharisees’ view of Jesus. Pilate had asked, and there was no hesitation in their answer. To them, Jesus was a mere sinner – a blasphemer worthy of death. Yet, as Pilate examined Him he had to concede, “I find no fault in Him”. Every one of us will have to answer this first question. How do we view Jesus? Was He an ordinary man, or the spotless Son of God?”
2. Are You the King of the Jews?
This second question was directed at Jesus. But, when the Pharisees heard it, they passionately rejected His Kingship, saying, “We have no king but Caesar!” Two millennia later, you and I face the same question. Who will reign on the throne of our hearts? Will we allow Jesus to be our King, or will we reject His Lordship as the Pharisees did?
3. What is Truth?
Pilate’s third question revealed a skepticism that absolute truth exists. (Or, if there is such a thing, who could claim to know it?) How ironic that he was standing in the presence of the One Who was (and is) the embodiment of Truth (John 14:6)!
4. Where Do You Come From?
The fourth question arose as Pilate became aware of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God (John 19:7-9). The sign that would eventually hang above the Cross would read: “Jesus OF NAZARETH”. But Paul declared Him to be “the Lord FROM HEAVEN” (1 Cor. 15:47).
5. What Shall I Do with Jesus That is Called “Christ”?
This fifth question calls for a response to what we learned from the previous four questions. If we believe that Christ is the sinless Son of God who descended from Heaven and came to the earth as the embodiment of Truth and the final sacrifice for sin, what will be our response? Will we wash our hands of Him, as Pilate did? Will we reject His Lordship, as the Pharisees did? Or, will we open our hearts to Him as the disciples did? This Easter, what will you do with Jesus?
Pastor Ron Swanson
Mar 19, 2018
Barabbas was on death row. There was no question as to his future. His fate was sealed; he’d been condemned to die! Imagine, for a moment, that you’re Barabbas. You’re in your prison cell, wrestling with all the emotions a person experiences when he knows the end is near. With every appeal for pardon and every stay of execution exhausted, you know there’s no way out. The only question that remains is, “When will it happen?”
You’re there in your cell, when suddenly, you hear a ruckus outside. The unmistakable roar of an angry crowd. You look out the window. You can see a crowd demanding something of Pilate. You can’t hear what Pilate says, but you hear the crowd angrily shout, Barabbas!”
There’s a momentary pause, as Pilate speaks. You stand there with baited breath! The crowd screams again, “Crucify Him!” You have no way of knowing that the crowd has just demanded your release and Christ’s execution. The crowd disperses.
Suddenly, the muted rhythm of approaching footsteps breaks the silence. A clamour of metal echoes through the chamber as your cell door swings open. Your heart pounds in your chest.
You’re ordered to your feet. Your shackles are loosed. Though the din of confusion, expecting the worst, you hear these words: “You are free to go. You’ve received a full pardon. Another will die in your place.
You try to process the thought of your emancipation amid what you thought was about to take place.
As Good Friday approached, Barabbas must have said, “I don’t understand.”
2. The Angels
Can you imagine what Good Friday looked like to the Angels? Put yourself in their place: You were there, as Christ enjoyed fellowship with the Father in eternity past. You watched in awe, as God proclaimed, “Let there be light” – and a universe leapt into existence! Now, you watch the Father turn His face away, as a rebellious creation nails its Creator to a Tree. No doubt, the angels must have said, “I don’t understand!”
3. God the Father
No one in any of the 3 worlds – Heaven, earth or hell – fully understood what had transpired that day.
To those who stood around the foot of the Cross – the Cross signalled defeat.
But, to God, it was the greatest expression of Divine Love to an undeserving world. To God, the Cross meant love.
Pastor Ron Swanson
Apr 2, 2018
For the next two weeks, we’re going to discuss the subject of the resurrection. Is it imperative that we believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ? Or, is it something we can choose to “opt out of”, based on personal preference?
The fact is, the resurrection is non-negotiable. It’s the very cornerstone of the Christian faith, and the thing that separates Christianity from the religions of the world. Why is the resurrection so important? Let me give you four reasons.
1. It Proves That Jesus Was Really Who He Claimed to Be
Romans 1:5 says, “He was powerfully proven to be the Son of God by the resurrection.”
Think about it. As we look at Jesus in the Gospels, how do we know that He was really God in the flesh? He was a great teacher, but so were a lot of folks. He had miracles in His ministry. But, so did many others. (Even false prophets produce miracles – Mt. 24:24.)
So, what makes Jesus different? Only one Person in the history of the world has a resurrection on His resume! He was proven to be the Son of God by the resurrection. There’s just no way to fake that!
2. The Resurrection is Proof that Jesus’ Sacrifice Was Accepted
Again, think with me. If Jesus said He was dying for the sins of the world, then He died, and the story ended there (and you never heard from Him again) … what proof would we ever have that God accepted His sacrifice?
The resurrection stands forever as proof that it worked! It was the “receipt” (and guarantee) that the sin price had been paid in full.
Acts 17:31 declares, “God has given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.”
The resurrection gives us assurance! Assurance of what? Romans 4:25 says, “(He) was surrendered to death because of the offenses we had committed and was raised to life once we had been acquitted.”
We’ve been acquitted, folks! The high court of Heaven looked at the evidence against us, then looked at Jesus’ Sacrifice and declared us “not guilty”.
The gavel came down and God thundered: “Not Guilty! Now, raise Him from the dead as a sign to give them assurance that I’ve accepted the Sacrifice, and they’ve been declared righteous!”
Sin’s penalty has been paid! Forgiveness belongs to all those who receive Christ.
Pastor Ron Swanson
Apr 9, 2018
Last week we started looking at the Resurrection of Jesus, and why it’s important that we believe in it. First, it proves that Jesus was really who He claimed to be. Second, it gives us assurance that God accepted His sacrificial death on the Cross.
3. It’s Absolutely Essential to Your Salvation
There are two things that you need to believe in order to be saved. Do you know what they are?
Paul writes, “If you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10 Amp.)
The fact is, Jesus was more than a great moral teacher. He was more than a prophet or a spiritual leader. He was (and is) the Divine Son of God, who died for your sins, then rose from the dead! Believing that and accepting the finished work of the Cross for yourself secures your eternal salvation.
4. It Reveals God’s Future Plan for Us
Jesus isn’t the only one who will be raised from the dead. The day is coming when all who have believed in Christ will be raised to live with Him eternally.
1 Cor. 15:23 promises, “Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.” (MSG Bible)
A modern translation of 1 Cor. 15:51-55 reads: “Stay close because I am going to tell you a mystery—we will not all die, but we will all be transformed. It will all happen so fast, in a blink, a mere flutter of the eye. The last trumpet will call, and the dead will be raised from their graves with a body that does not, cannot decay. All of us will be changed! We’ll step out of our mortal “clothes” and slide into immortal bodies, replacing everything that is subject to death with eternal life. And, when we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay, then it will be as Scripture says: Life everlasting has victoriously swallowed death. Hey, Death! What happened to your big win? Hey, Death! What happened to your sting?”
This is the hope we have because of Christ’s death and resurrection. This Easter season, why not make Him the Lord of your life?
Pastor Ron Swanson
Apr 26, 2018
For the past few weeks, we’ve been examining the story of Easter. We saw the crucifixion through the eyes of Pilate and Barabbas; then we looked at the Resurrection. It’s wonderful to know that Jesus died and rose again. But, knowing that it happened isn’t enough. We need to understand why it happened.
What Jesus accomplished on the Cross was for us. We had sinned, and the penalty was death – either for the sinner or a substitute. On the Cross, Jesus became our substitute. Willingly, He took the punishment that we faced. He died in our place, and our sin debt was paid in full.
The price has been paid, but it’s not automatically credited to our account. No, each of us must receive the payment that was made on our behalf. How do we do that?
1. First, we acknowledge our need for a Savior. We need to humble ourselves and admit that we’re powerless to save ourselves. No amount of good works can save us (Isa. 64:6, Titus 3:5). We need God to save us.
2. The second step is to believe. When the Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?”, Paul responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”. Believing is more than mentally assenting to the truth of the gospel. True belief involves committing yourself to Christ and trusting Him to save you.
If I were a tightrope walker, I might ask the crowd, “Who believes that I can push this wheelbarrow across the wire?” Many might respond in the affirmative. But, if I asked, “Who’s willing to get into the wheelbarrow as I push it across?” … that’s another matter entirely! Jesus isn’t just asking us to give mental assent to the fact that He died and rose again. Essentially, He’s asking us to “get into the wheelbarrow”. He’s asking us to trust our eternity to Him, believing that He’ll save us.
3. Finally, we need to receive Christ. John 1:12 says, “But to all who received Him, he gave the right to become children of God.”
If you’re ready to make that decision, pray this prayer: “God, I know I’ve sinned. But today I turn from sin, and I come to Christ. I believe that Jesus died and rose again. I receive Him now as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me, Jesus. Amen.”