What does our certainty in Christ allow for our lives? This certainty allows us to have hope! Jesse Bradley from Grace Community Church in Auburn digs into how hope is always available with Jesus and how that hope is a foundation that can’t be broken.
Jesse Bradley: A lot of times in our culture, we say hope, well, I hope it works. Maybe it’ll work. And hope and maybe are synonymous, but in the Bible, hope is a certainty. We have this blessed hope that Christ will return. It’s a certainty. We have hope of this heaven. It’s a certainty. We have this hope of a resurrected body. It’s a certainty. And what does that certainty allow us to do? It allows us to rest and also risk.
Narrator: Revive your faith with Purposely equipped in this special five-episode podcast, Experience Resurrection. We’re looking at what the resurrection means to our Christian faith and why, what Jesus did on the cross is so important to our lives today. Special, thanks to our friends at George Fox University ranked among the top Christian colleges in America by Forbes. Be known at George Fox University, personally, academically, and spiritually.
Today’s special guests is Pastor Jesse Bradley from Grace Community Church in Auburn, you can find out more about Grace Community Church at graceinauburn.com.
Jesse Bradley: Hello, my name is Jesse Bradley and I’m the lead pastor at Grace Community Church in Auburn. I also serve with Saturate the Sound. My wife, Lori and I have 42. We have a very patient dog named Bella and a noisy nocturnal hamster named Kiwi. I’m honored to be with you today and to dive into this topic of resurrection hope.
And in this series, you’re hearing from many different voices, and we have a shared passion authenticity. We all love Jesus and getting into his word, and we are United across the sound. Men, women, and children, all different nations, ethnicities ages. We love to come together in the love and hope of Jesus. Today, I’m going to focus on how Jesus brings hope into our lives in three specific ways. Hope is an extremely important topic, and during the pandemic, the census bureau tells us that 48% of Americans say that they feel hopeless. Also, 38% of pastors in the last year, according to Barna, have seriously considered quitting ministry. And there are record number of searches online in over 75 countries for the word prayer and also God. All of this tells us that people are searching and starving for hope right now. And our hope is found in Jesus. We’re going to take a look at John chapter 11. If you have a Bible, you can turn there. And this passage might not stand out as a passage about hope because the setting’s s funeral. Lazarus has died and Mary and Martha are grieving.
In fact, they’re disappointed with Jesus because they wanted Jesus to come sooner and he’s arriving later than what they expect. All of us can relate to expecting God to show up in a certain way or a certain time, but God’s ways and his thoughts are above ours. And God’s timing is different and that creates tension, and his Jesus arrives there’s tension, but we see the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, Jesus wept.
This is a powerful and profound verse. It tells us that when we’re grieving and mourning, and so many people have been grieving and mourning during the pandemic, people have lost loved ones, lost health, lost jobs, lost finances, lost peace, lost their rhythms, lost joy. Maybe you’re going through a time of grieving right now and it’s a comfort to know that Jesus wept. That means Jesus cares. That means Jesus enters into our pain. And he also takes our burdens. When I was growing up, I didn’t really know how to grieve. I didn’t know how to find hope. And when my parents were divorced at age seven, my coping mechanism was to deny a lot of personal pain and then just try to do better in terms of athletics and academics.
Maybe you have a similar approach. When you’re going through a challenging time in a storm in life, you try to deny the pain and just do better at what you can do. And yes, that can be noble and there’s some merit, but that also has a real limitation. And I didn’t learn until later in life, in fact, I played professional soccer overseas in Africa, and in Africa, I took a prescribed medication, built up toxic levels in my system, and it was a tragedy.
I was fighting for my life for one year. It took 10 years to fully recover. And during that time when God broke me, he also taught me how to grieve. And I had to learn to let God in. I thought God was not interested in my pain. I thought he was only looking at my success. I didn’t know he wanted to come into the ugly parts of my life, the parts that I didn’t have figured out where there’s uncertainty and the parts that sometimes there was shame. But God wants to come into those dead places in our life, and Jesus weeps, because he cares about people. He is a savior that’s fully God and fully human. And at this funeral, he’s going to bring hope, but initially what he does, it’s his ministry of presence and he comes, and he brings us peace and he just comes alongside of people. If, you know, someone that’s struggling and hurting and in pain right now, the best thing you can do, start out with just understanding. Be there, listen, weep. The Bible says rejoice with those who rejoice also mourn with those who mourn in Jesus models
this for us. And in this context where there’s a lot of sadness and people are, you know, whaling is a very expressive culture, Jesus makes a very bold statement and hope is bold. The hope that Jesus brings is real. The hope that Jesus brings is greater than our challenges, and the hope that Jesus brings is more of a foundation than a feeling. Sometimes people feel like hope is not available, but with Jesus, hope is always available. And sometimes people feel like they’re not worthy to receive hope, but Jesus brings a hope that is for you right now. You don’t earn this hope and it’s not like a feeling that just a roller coaster ride, it comes and goes, and there’s, you know, we’re kind of hopeless and helpless? No, there’s a hope that solid and Jesus brings us hope with his declaration in John 11: 25-26, Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?
What a question do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection in the. Now here’s the three specific ways that Jesus brings hope. First of all, Jesus’s resurrection. He said, he’s the resurrection, and then physically he rose from the grave. The gospel, and first Corinthians chapter 15 has two parts.
Jesus died for our sins, and you think about the cross where he is our substitute. He literally became sin. The wrath of God was poured out upon him. Love, include sacrifice, and he died for our sins on the cross. This is a love that is demonstrated. It’s a sacrificial love, but that’s only half the gospel.
The second half of the gospel is on the third day, Jesus rose from the grave, any appeared to over 500 people. Now that’s a lot of evidence. 500 firsthand eyewitness accounts. And with that compelling story, that Jesus is not in the grave anymore, but he’s risen with that fact that he is the resurrection. There is now hope for the world. Hope is centered on Jesus. It’s centered on the resurrection. Christianity is centered on the resurrection. If there is no resurrection, there’s no Christianity. There’s no gospel. There’s no hope. The good news is, yes, this is historical fact with evidence. Jesus Christ died for our sins, and He’s risen.
I didn’t grow up believing that, but there are so many people who have documented this; Josh McDowell evidence that demands a verdict. Lee Strobel was a journalist in Chicago. He ended up writing the case for Christ. He didn’t believe, but he looked at all the evidence. See, God draws us with both our minds and our heart. And the mind, our minds need evidence and that’s what God provides with the resurrection, but we also engage with God through our heart. And that’s God’s grace. The gospel is a gospel of grace and hope. Grace means an undeserved gift. You can’t earn it. You can have a relationship with God. This isn’t religion or rituals, and it’s not just rules. This relationship, it’s a gift you receive. And you can’t earn it, the Bible says. No one can boast. It’s not like Jesus does 80 and we do 20, or Jesus does 90. And we do 10. Jesus accomplishes it all a hundred, and we received the gift by faith. It’s through grace and our faith is in Jesus. And when you make that decision, the Bible says you’re born again.
If you’ve never made that decision, you can step over the line today. Right now. You know, when two people are dating, they’re thinking about marriage or talking about it, it sounds good. But then there comes a day when they say, yes, I do. And we all make our own decisions. You might have friends that follow Jesus, or parents, but today you can know the Lord and put your trust in him.
And again, it’s based on a fact that Jesus died for our sins, and he’s risen. It’s through faith. Feelings, come and go, but our faith is not a blind. And our faith is not just going to be based on, you know, what we think is true. It’s who God is what he is revealed. And we have this through scripture, and we know that Jesus is risen from the dead. And that’s the hope I’m excited to proclaim to you today is that the resurrection is real. And the resurrection hope is powerful, and put your trust in Jesus, and you can have peace with God eternal life. You can know you’re going to heaven. And I see people make this decision throughout the year. We see thousands of people made this decision recently, and there’s no greater decision. Jesus has living water that’ll satisfy your soul.
The second way that Jesus brings hope is that there is a future resurrection for us. If your body is in pain, you know, I was just playing a soccer game, I partially tore my Achilles, and for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been limping and crutches and lots of pain. Pain at night. We all have body pains, and it reminds us that we need God now, that health is a gift, and that we’re going to receive new bodies. And I think of all the people that have had COVID. We have seen so many people die from COVID and all the sickness. I know people right now who are very sick because of COVID. There’s going to be no COVID in heaven. I think of cancer and loved ones, you know, that die of cancer. And we grieve and we hurt for them. It is so painful to see someone go through treatment and the loss of different abilities and all of the trials that come with cancer. You think of the aging process, and I have a grandma now who’s in her nineties and mentally there’s some deterioration of ability and it’s so hard for all of us to watch.
And all of this reminds us that earth is not our home. We are looking forward to heaven, and this gives us hope that we are going to receive resurrection bodies. First Corinthians chapter 15 tells us very clearly, and what a great chapter. In terms of the resurrection, this is the chapter I’d encourage you to read first. Corinthians chapter 15, and there’s a promise here about what we’re going to receive. And it says that, so will it be with the resurrection of the dead, the body that is so imperishable, that’s our current body, a perishable body it’s raised imperishable. It is sown in. It is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness. It is raised in power. It is sown a natural body. It is raised a spiritual body. If there’s a natural body, there’s also a spiritual body. The Bible tells us that the body we’re in right now is like a temporary tent, but you are eternal in a soul and you’re going to receive a new body. And in heaven, there’s going to be no sickness, mourning, crying, pain, all these things. Sin, temptation, it’s all removed and we’re going to receive these perfect bodies. And then at the end of first Corinthians chapter 15, death has been swallowed up in victory where O death is your victory, where O death is your sting. The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters stand firm. Let nothing move. You always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
That’s a great news. What does that tell us? It tells us that we have this future comfort, knowing that for eternity, God has made this body for us, that we’re going to receive as part of the inheritance as we’re with God forever. And knowing that that is secure and that is promised and that’s guaranteed, knowing that that’s a fact. See, a lot of times in our culture, we say hope, well, I hope it works. Maybe it’ll work. And hope and maybe are synonymous.
But in the Bible, hope is a certainty. We have this blessing, hope that Christ will return. It’s a certainty. We have this hope of heaven. It’s a certainty. We have this hope of a resurrected body. It’s a certainty. And what does that certainty allow us to do? It allows us to rest and also risk. You can rest in the promises of God. Rest in the presence of God. Rest in the power of God, but also risk knowing that we’re on this earth for a short time and that we can take risks because we have any eternity that secure God says in his word in first, John chapter five, I write these things.
So, you know, that you have eternal life. Whoever has the son has eternal life. God wants us to know it and that’s not pride. That’s not earned. We didn’t earn it. We can’t lose it, but instead it’s a gift. God provides it. God keeps it. And he wants us to know eternal security that whoever believes in Jesus, for God so loved the world. He gave his only son. Whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Yes, we all fall short of the glory of God. We all sin. We all need forgiveness. But this perfect savior full of hope, sinless has died in our place. And Jesus is unique. There’s no one like him. Atheists and agnostics say that, you know, his teaching is the greatest teaching.
His miracles are unrivaled. And then we see that he was sinless. He was tempted but did not sin. And he’s the only son of God. C.S. Lewis says that if anyone claims to be the Messiah, there’s only three options. You can’t say they’re a good teacher and a nice guy. The only option are lord, liar or lunatic. Either they’re telling the truth and there’s a Lord, the Messiah, or they’re a liar, and they know they’re not the son of God, or they’re a lunatic because they think they are, but they’re not. There’ve been many who claim to be the Messiah. Only Jesus is the king of Kings and Lord of Lords. All the other, well, liar and lunatic, those are the only options. And Jesus died for our sins.
He’s risen from the grave. He’s the only religious leader where there’s an empty tomb. That’s so powerful. Everyone else in the grave. Jesus has risen. He is the resurrection. And then because he’s the resurrection, we are also going to be resurrected, resurrected bodies, a gift from God. This is amazing. And I remember, because I didn’t grow up in a Christian family and in my family, it’s kind of like Baskin Robbins, 31 flavors spiritually. We have people who reject God people. Aren’t sure if God exists, we have a Jewish part of the family and a rabbi. We have Catholic, ex-Catholic. I mean, there’s just such a range in our family. And when I was growing up, you know, my focus, as I mentioned earlier, athletics, academics, went to Dartmouth college and I played soccer there. My freshman year, I just couldn’t figure out why I didn’t feel better on the inside. And we all have two stories. The outside story in the inside story, the outside story is what people. The inside story is what we really know. And my inside story was empty, but my outside story, you know, I was at an Ivy League school, we won the conference championship, I was getting awards, friends, parties. Have you ever had that moment in life where everything is checked that you think will bring you happiness, but you’re not happy? And the inside of my story was empty, but I took an introduction to religion class. I wasn’t looking for God. I read the gospel of John. It was the first time I ever read the Bible. This gospel of John I’m talking about today. It’s a passion because it changed my life. And the professor did not follow Jesus. He undermined the scripture, but God’s word is powerful. And I learned about this relationship with God through grace. And I knew even in college, I needed an answer for after I die. And so many people had told me biological decay, that’s the end of the story.
And that just is not hopeful, but I didn’t want to believe just as a placebo effect, or come up with some fake religion, I needed something solid. And I kicked the tires. I asked hundreds of questions. But I learned about the evidence that Jesus is the resurrection, and he has victory over death, and whoever believes in him has eternal life. And when I put my trust in Jesus, there was a song on the inside, deeply personal, this relationship with God, but also eternal because now I know my destiny. And when you know your destiny that frees you up to risk, to live each day, to bless other people, to love people and to follow God, even though there might be a cost, or it might be difficult to rely on God and watch him do the impossible.
And I said in this message, there’s three ways that bring us hope. Jesus is bringing us hope. First of all, through his resurrection, and that’s the crux. That’s the core of the faith in every other expression of hope comes out of the hope of the resurrection. The second hope is that yes, we are going to receive resurrected bodies, a future resurrection for us. Victory over death. Amazing. And then the third aspect of hope is this resurrection power. In the Bible says the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in our lives. And many people, when they consider the gospel, remember Jesus died for our sins and he’s risen resurrection power, many people only think of the first half and that there’s some suffering, we turn from some sin and they kind of live a boring life, an empty life in different ways, even though they know God. But there is resurrection power available to us. And this resurrection power is for everyday living. We need to shift from Sunday to every day. For one place, just at the church building, to every place we go, where we live, work, learn, play.
This is an abiding relationship. And in John chapter 15, you abide, and you will bear much fruit. And I’m seeing collaboration across the sound. In Auburn, we’re United together. We had an event, serve our city, with many projects around the city. And we served, there was one home there in terms of a rehabilitation ministry.
We also served at a Young Life house, and they do an incredible work with middle school and high school students. We served at the Auburn food bank and then cleaning up around the city. In addition to that, there’s pulpit exchanges between pastors, fasting and praying together, meeting monthly. We also have had an invitation Sunday, at every church, you invite people to church and then the pastor invites people to put their trust in Jesus. It’s so good to unite. God has made us to unite. John 17, Jesus’ longest prayer that we would unite full unity as the body of Christ and it’s so the world would see Jesus. And that’s Jesus’s prayer.
We’re seeing an answer to that prayer. There’s unity and Auburn there’s unity across the sound. Churches are adopting schools. Churches are very involved with foster care. There’s a distribution of food. I’m so inspired by what I see in Kent in a distribution of millions of pounds of food as well. When there’s new churches in the sound established, churches are blessing them and helping them, there’s praise in the park, up at Bellevue.
I could go on and on with examples of how God’s resurrection power is working through his people and through the church to bring hope to the sound. And we’re so grateful for what God is doing at this time. We’re seeing people coming to Jesus and baptisms and through the digital ministry now. That is opened up in flourish during the pandemic.
And again, thousands of people are coming to know Jesus. Here’s an acronym. When you think about God’s resurrection power in your life, you are blessed to be a blessing. And there are now blessed stories. In this acronym blessed, begin with prayer, listen to people, eat or have coffee together, serve, and then share, share about Jesus, share your story. Blessing people, it’s biblical. Starting in the book of Genesis with Abraham, God blesses us to bless other people. When you wake up full of hope in the morning, and you say, God, who can I bless? That’s an exciting way to live. That’s a life-giving way to live Jesus, because of your resurrection, and I know my future is secure and I’m going to be resurrected.
But for right now, today, God, who can I bless, begin with prayer. Listen to people, and then eat a meal. Go a little deep. Then as you’re serving people, meeting their needs, you can also share about Jesus. You know, God gives us a spirit, not of timidity, but power and love. And I see this resurrection hope in the Ukraine right now. I was listening and there’s a pastor there and we’ve all been praying for that situation because hope is local and global. And he says, I, and all ministries, we’re staying here. We continue in intercessory prayer, talking to people to reduce panic in helping those in need. And we say, how can we pray for people in the Ukraine right now?
It says, pray for our disciple-making because so many are coming to know, Jesus. Bibles are getting handed out. There’s such a hunger for God and his word right now. And also, pray for safety and generosity. There’s a husband and wife that were deciding, should they stay, or should they go? And they decided to stay and serve. And the man’s wife said, I will be with you to the very end. And their vision is that when this is all over, Christians, where there, in the Ukraine, sheltering those who needed help, serving the suffering, mending broken lives. And in all these things in practical ways, helping refugees, providing temporary shelter. There’s a food hygiene needs, air mattresses, all these things. This is the phrase I love, we’re remembering that there is an unshakable hope in Jesus, and we want to bring the unshakeable hope of Christ, and his gospel, to the people in the Ukraine. I hope you are inspired and encouraged by followers of Jesus in the Ukraine.
And as you spend time in John 11 in 1 Corinthians 15, you know that the hope of Jesus is real. That his resurrection, he is not in the grave. We celebrated Easter because we have a savior who’s living who’s in heaven, who’s going to return as king of Kings and Lord of Lords, new heaven and new earth. And we look forward to resurrection bodies and we live with a resurrection power of Jesus right now.
So don’t settle for a small vision. God has a lifter of your head. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be afraid and don’t have despair because Jesus is risen. Jesus saves. If you don’t know Jesus, you can put your trust in him right now. If you don’t have a good church, find a community. Be United serve together with resurrection, hope and power. And we know the future secure with the resurrected bodies. So, let’s live today knowing that God’s presence, power and promises are all yes in Jesus. Let’s live today for the glory of God to bless other people in lives, full of hope, as we abide with the Lord.
Narrator: Again, we want to thank George Fox University for sponsoring this episode of Experience Resurrection, to learn more about how you can be known at George Fox University, visit georgefox.edu. Thank you for downloading Experience Resurrection. And don’t forget to share it with a friend. Let’s keep building our faith together.
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