By Sonny Westbrook, Director of Ministries
The celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead is a high point of the year for all sincere evangelical Christians. It focuses our attention on one of the most significant chains of events in the history of the world. It was the climax of what is often referred to as Holy Week or Passion Week, because it gave absolute validation and eternal significance to the death of Christ for us all. It also completed the crucial elements in His plan of salvation for us.
Here at the Union Gospel Mission, we have as our purpose statement that we exist to reach the poor with the love and power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These two words, love and power, are what our Lord’s death and resurrection revealed in the most life-transforming way. It is our joy to share this love and power with all those God sends our way within our ministries. So let’s celebrate together as we consider briefly these two facets of the Gospel: His love and His power.
Undoubtedly, the most well-known verse in the entire Bible is John 3:16. Most of us know it by heart and if not, it is a good one to memorize. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Passion Week is referred to as such because God loves all the “whosoevers” of this world, that is, every man, woman and child on this planet. He does so with a passionate love. It’s not half-hearted or lukewarm. The verse says, for God SO loved the world, you and me, and every person who has been born, that He gave Jesus to us all! He did so that we would not perish or die but experience eternal life with Him.
Here’s the good news we have to share with every man, woman, boy or girl God brings to us: God loves you personally, passionately, and purposefully. He demonstrated this by giving the Lord Jesus to anyone and everyone who would receive Him for who He is: our Savior, our Lord, and our very Life.
Our Lord came into this world as God the Father’s gift to us, to save us from the sin which infects us all and which put the curse of death on us. Romans 5:8 tells us: “God proved HIS LOVE for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Our Lord Jesus was given as our SAVIOR from SIN and its consequence – death or separation from God. He did this by taking all of your sin and mine and every other person’s sin off of us and onto Himself. He did so while He was hanging on the cross. He is God’s only provision for our sin. He then paid the wages of all our sins for us: He died in your place and in my place and in the place of every human being who has lived, is living or will live. Then He also gifted His perfect track record to us: He clothes us with His righteousness. His love-motivated sacrifice of Himself for us unleashed the power of God’s total forgiveness, now available to every human heart!
What a joy it is to share this good news with all who come our way: God loves you so much that He gave Jesus for you. He took your sin off of you and paid its wage – which is death.
But that is not the end of the story. Jesus not only defeated sin for us, He completely defeated the consequence of sin, which is death itself. He is the only person in the history of the world capable of either of these achievements. Romans 1:4 declares that our Lord Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God WITH POWER” by the resurrection from the dead. 2 Timothy 1:10 celebrates this victory by stating that He “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” As the revelation of God’s plan for our salvation is unfolded in the New Testament, we learn that His plan was not only to give Jesus’ life FOR us in death, but He would also give Jesus’ life TO us in resurrection.
Because He lives, He can share His Life with us! He does so when we invite Him to come into our lives, when we receive Him. And the best thing is this: When we receive Him, He actually comes in to live on the inside with us, in our bodies. So we are never alone, ever again. He lives in us and is for us and with us. Then, He can also be all He is through us to bless others. He comes in to take over the management of our lives as LORD and to fill our lives with Himself, as our very LIFE.
What a privilege to be experiencing the LOVE and the POWER of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and then to be sharing it with others 365 days a year, especially in these days when it all comes into focus. Easter reminds us that the love and power of the gospel is really JESUS, Himself, who died for us and who defeated death by resurrection, so He could continually share His love, His power, His risen life with us, every moment of every day!
At UGM, reaching the poor with the love and power of the Gospel can begin with a meal.