I don’t know if you would associate Easter with the word “confidence” but the events of that incredible weekend almost 2000 years ago are the very foundation of Christian confidence, or what the theologians might call “assurance”.
The death and resurrection of Jesus provide an unshakeable underpinning for the Christian in the face of what might otherwise be uncertainty. This Easter it’s our prayer that you would be renewed in assurance because of what God has done in Jesus for each and every member of his church throughout the world.
So how does Easter provide this assurance? The much-used gospel resource “Evangelism Explosion” encourages us to ask those we talk to about Jesus a simple yet profound question,
“If you were to die tonight and stand before God and he were to ask you “why should I let you into my perfect eternal kingdom”, what answer would you give?”
There are lots of answers we could give, all centring around ourselves. “I go to church”, “I read the Bible”, “I give to charity”, “I’m baptised”, “I share in the Lord’s Supper” and so on. But all of these answers fall short – they’re all relying on what I do, placing my assurance in my own ability to meet some standard good enough to pass God’s highest requirements. And we’re fooling ourselves if we think we’ll ever be good enough. God hates sin and even the slightest failure on our part is sin. The Apostle John cautions us strongly against any suggestion that sin is not a severe problem for us:
1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
But, of course, the gospel does not leave us in this morass. John, who spent years with Jesus as the “beloved disciple” longs that we know the great assurance that only Jesus can give us:
1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
If we sin, we should know that the Lord Jesus Christ is advocating on our behalf. His appeal is on the basis on his death on the cross, the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins. It was such an immense act that it could, in theory, cover all the sins of the whole world. And we can benefit from Jesus’ death on the Cross simply by trusting in him. It should fill us with great confidence.
But there is even more for us to contemplate. Jesus not only died but was powerfully raised to life again. The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate proof that the Cross truly dealt with sin. The penalty of sin is death (Gen. 2:17, Rom. 6:23) and so as Jesus is raised again to life, he shows us that we can know that sin is overcome since it’s consequence, death, is defeated (1Cor. 15:56-57).
If these things are true then our answer to the Evangelism Explosion question will be very different. Rather than falling back on ourselves (a strategy that will always fail since we are sinners) we can give a simple confident answer!
Why should God let us into his perfect eternal kingdom? The answer is clear: Jesus! We plead Jesus’ death and Resurrection and not anything that we may have done. And we make this confession with great assurance!
This Easter, as we think deeply about the Cross and Resurrection, let’s be filled with deep humble confidence in what God has done for us in Jesus who was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25)!
Hallelujah, what a saviour!
David Ould / Senior Associate Minister
St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta
PRAY: Pray for each of us this Easter, that we would be filled with deep and humble confidence in what God has done for us in Jesus who was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25).
Join us this Sunday for our Sunday services. We meet at 8am, 9:30am, 11am and 5pm at the Cathedral – and online at 11am. Check out out Sunday services page for more information on our face-to-face services.