MERCY IS OUR CRY

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SCRIPTURE READING

According to an old fable, a man made an unusual agreement with Death. He told the Grim Reaper that he would willingly accompany him when it came time to die, but only on one condition–that Death would send a messenger well in advance to warn him. Weeks winged away into months, and months into years. Then one bitter winter evening, as the man sat thinking about all his possessions, Death suddenly entered the room and tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, the man cried out, “You’re here so soon and without warning! I thought we had an agreement.” Death replied, “I’ve more than kept my part. I’ve sent you many messengers. Look in the mirror and you’ll see some of them.” As the man complied, Death whispered, “Notice your hair! Once it was full and black, now it is thin and white. Look at the way you cock your head to listen to me because you can’t hear very well. Observe how close to the mirror you must stand to see yourself clearly. Yes, I’ve sent many messengers through the years. I’m sorry you’re not ready, but the time has come to leave.” Daily Bread, February 29, 1991.​One morning in 1888 Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, awoke to read his own obituary. The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic error. You see, it was Alfred’s brother that had died and the reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him. The “Dynamite King,” the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This, as far as the general public was concerned, was the entire purpose of Alfred’s life. None of his true intentions to break down the barriers that separated men and ideas for peace were recognized or given serious consideration. He was simply a merchant of death. And for that alone he would be remembered. As he read the obituary with horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. This could be done through the final disposition of his fortune. His last will and testament–an endowment of five annual prizes for outstanding contributions in  physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace (the sixth category of economics was added later)–would be the expression of his life’s ideals and ultimately would be why we would remember him. The result was the most valuable of prizes given to those who had done the most for the cause of world peace. It is called today, the “Nobel Peace Prize.”

SCRIPTURE READING

See 1 Corinthians 15:12–19 NASB95Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

INTRODUCTION

According to an old fable, a man made an unusual agreement with Death. He told the Grim Reaper that he would willingly accompany him when it came time to die, but only on one condition–that Death would send a messenger well in advance to warn him. Weeks winged away into months, and months into years. Then one bitter winter evening, as the man sat thinking about all his possessions, Death suddenly entered the room and tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, the man cried out, “You’re here so soon and without warning! I thought we had an agreement.” Death replied, “I’ve more than kept my part. I’ve sent you many messengers. Look in the mirror and you’ll see some of them.” As the man complied, Death whispered, “Notice your hair! Once it was full and black, now it is thin and white. Look at the way you cock your head to listen to me because you can’t hear very well. Observe how close to the mirror you must stand to see yourself clearly. Yes, I’ve sent many messengers through the years. I’m sorry you’re not ready, but the time has come to leave.”  (Daily Bread, February 29, 1991)This is something that everyone of us in this room must reconcile in our thought processes; death is inevitable. Death is inescapable because it is part of the human experience that began with Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden of Eden. I think I might as well tell you today that if you don’t believe that you won’t be able to relate to anything else that I will say. Daily Bread, February 29, 1991See ,; Genesis 2:16 NASB95The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;Genesis 2:17 NASB95but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”Genesis 2:16 NASB95The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;Romans 5:12 NASB95Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—​‘Genesis 2:17 NASB95but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”​Most people throughout the Old Testament era and some people in the New Testament era did not believe in life after death. With the resurrection of Jesus and the preaching of the gospel, we have a new hope – life after death. Without such a hope, life loses it meaning.

CENTRAL IDEA

Some people today, like some of Paul’s audience at Corinth, need to know that the Resurrection of Jesus is “The Christian Hope.”

It Proves that Resurrection is Possible (v.12)

It Forms the Center of Our Preaching (v v. 13-16)

It is the Foundation of Our Faith (v v. 17-18)

It Gives New Hope (v 19)

Donald Grey Barnhouse:I was driving with my children to my wife’s funeral where I was to preach the sermon. As we came into one small town there strode down in front of us a truck that came to stop before a red light. It was the biggest truck I ever saw in my life, and the sun was shining on it at just the right angle that took its shadow and spread it across the snow on the field beside it. As the shadow covered that field, I said, “Look children at that truck, and look at its shadow. If you had to be run over, which would you rather be run over by? Would you rather be run over by the truck or by the shadow?” My youngest child said, “The shadow couldn’t hurt anybody.” “That’s right,” I continued, “and death is a truck, but the shadow is all that ever touches the Christian. The truck ran over the Lord Jesus. Only the shadow is gone over mother.” ​

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