Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program

If you are like most of us, you would welcome a fresh start, a new beginning, a looking back at a life that has had many mistakes and faults, failures, sins, difficulties, that you would like to put behind you. You would like to be able to say, “Oh, I wish I had not done that. I wish that I had been different than I am today.”

Listen to the words of the apostle Peter written in chapter one of the first epistle of Peter verses three and four? A translation that we call the Message puts it this way. “What a God we have and how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our master Jesus. Because Jesus has been raised from the dead we have been given a brand new life and we have everything to live for including a future in heaven, and the future starts now.”

Wow. What a blessing comes to my mind as I think of being able to start my life all over again, to put behind my mistakes and errors and yes, sins that become so prominent when we follow our flesh nature.

The American Standard Version of that passage reads this way. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”

Oh, my friends, here is the fresh start that everyone surely longs for. It is my understanding that if you go on what we know today as Google on your computer, if you have one – if you Google the words “fresh start” I am told there are 485,000 links on Google to a ‘fresh start’.

I understand that at one of the great universities of the east they have a course on how to find happiness. Our world is looking for change. It is looking for a fresh start. It is looking for things to be better and to be different. How in the world can that happen? Who has not wished for this to happen in their life, to put behind them the things that have plagued them that are wrong and dragged them down? This passage tells us we can put our faith in a risen Lord and Savior.

What happens when we become Christians? What happened when you became a Christian if you are one today? You have opened your life to let God in. You heard the gospel. You realized that you were a lost sinner. You had broken God’s law, but you realized that he loved you and sent his Son to be a Savior for you. Jesus died in your place. You came to believe that truth and you put your faith and trust in him. And so you turned from your old life—that is called repentance—you made an about face, confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you were baptized into him and the good news of complete forgiveness of sin.

That was, indeed, a new beginning for you. And then you are given a new life. And now you have everything to live for in this life and in the life to come. And, as this passage tells us, we have a great future in heaven.

Someone put it this way. You get your past forgiven. You get a purpose for living, and you get a home in heaven.

Would you say God has given us the best deal of all, if we might put it so crudely, to have past sins forgiven, to have a purpose for living, to know that we can contribute to the good of our family and society and our nation. That you are going to one day share a home in heaven, that place that Jesus told his disciples in John 14 he was going to prepare? Oh, what other religion, what other philosophy, what other thing that you might think of offers such a hope as this? Your past, your present and your future are taken care of.

Let me remind you in all seriousness, my friends, about your past. The Bible says it is appointed unto man once to die and then comes a day of judgment. We are all going to face our past. It will be brought before us in a day of judgment. We can bring that past to Calvary, to the cross, to Jesus and he will deal with it. And instead of a hopeless end, we can have an endless hope in the Lord Jesus. That is what I have done. That is what I have a hope in today and it is my desire that you have this hope

The apostle Paul wrote to a church in the city of Corinth, a very large metropolitan city of his day, in chapter one and verse 30 and he says, “Everything we have, right thinking and write living, a clean slate and a fresh start, come from God by way of the Holy Spirit.”

Isn’t that an interesting way to put it? Right thinking and right living. You know our living starts with our thinking. We are, indeed, what we think. We become what is coming out of our mind and out of our heart. A clean slate, oh, who of us would not like to be able to just take an eraser, to take a rag and wipe the slate of our past and to say all of those wrongs and sins and weaknesses and mistakes have been gotten out of the way. A fresh start. What a joy the gospel provides.

And what does Paul go on to say then? How do you get that? It comes from God. God provides it. It is a gift by way of, or through, the person of Jesus Christ and his work at Cavalry.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth as well in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 these words: “Now I make known unto you brethren the gospel, that is the good news which I preached unto you, which you received, wherein you stand, by which you are saved if you hold fast the word I preached unto you unless you have believed in vain.”

Now what is this gospel? I delivered unto you, first of all, of first importance, that which I received. Christ died for our sins according to what the Scriptures said. He was buried and he has been raised on the third day according to, or just like, the Scriptures said he would. And he appeared to Cephas and the 12 and to about 500 at one time of whom the greater part remain until now.”

Here is the gospel, the good news, and the key in the middle of it is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

That I would like for my emphasis to be in the latter part of this message today.

Remember what we said in the opening passage? Jesus has been raised from the dead. Our way of hope from God is by way of a risen Lord Jesus. Would you think with me for a moment? Without Jesus’ resurrection what do we have? We have, first of all, a lifeless Messiah. Our Savior does not live, but he is still in the tomb. He is still dead.

Listen to how Paul deals with that when he says in 1 Corinthians 15:12, “If Christ is preached that he has been raised from the dead, why do some of you say there is no resurrection from the dead? 13, But if there is no resurrection, neither has Christ been raised.” Oh, my friends, he says in the first part of the chapter, “I preach unto you this Christ and his resurrection. And if he has not been raised, if he is dead…”

Listen to then verse 16. “If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised. For without the resurrection we have a lifeless Messiah”.

Many religions today have a founder whose remains are in the tomb where they were buried hundreds of years ago. But not so the Christian faith. The Christian religion is different from any other. We do not have a lifeless Messiah, but a living Savior and Lord

Secondly, if Jesus has not been raised, in this gospel message Paul says in the 14th verse of this chapter, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is vain and your faith is vain.”

We have a useless gospel. It is really not a gospel at all. It is not good news if Jesus is still in the tomb. But the good news is he has been raised and that is what gives us hope over death that will come to us, if Jesus tarries.

But in verse 15, in addition to the fact that if Jesus has not been raised, we have a lifeless Messiah, we have a useless gospel. We have a truthless witness.

When I talk about the gospel, when I tell you how great God is, if Jesus has not been raised, I am just blowing in the wind. I am just preaching a false truth.

Listen to verse 15. “And we are found false witnesses of God because we witnessed he raised not up Christ whom he didn’t raise if the dead are not raised.”

If Jesus is not raised, all this preaching we are doing, all this message going out over the air, all the time in the pulpits of the world, it is a truthless witness. But the truth is Jesus has been raised.

And then when we put our faith in this Jesus, if he has not been raised, look at verse 17.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain and you are yet in your sins.” You thought you had been saved from sin. But you find out Jesus hasn’t been raised. You know you can’t be free of sin if Jesus is still dead. This whole chapter in the book of 1 Corinthians deals with the precious truth of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and what it provides. And, oh, the capper comes in verses 18 and 19.

If we have a lifeless Messiah, we have a useless gospel, we have a truthless witness, we have a worthless faith. It is no surprise we have a hopeless eternity, verses 18 and 19.

“Then they also that have fallen asleep, those that had died, Christians that have died, they have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.”

Oh, my friends, listen to me. This living Savior takes us and makes us acceptable to our wonderful God. Paul states it this way in they book of Romans chapter four and the 25th verse in these words. “He was delivered up for our trespasses”. That is he died in our place and he was raised for our justification. He has made us acceptable to God not only by his death at the cross, but by his resurrection as well.

And so what a hope we have as people of God and children of God. The apostle Paul, again, writing to the church at Corinth in chapter five says this in the 21st verse. “The one who knew no sin, that was Jesus, God made him to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”

Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world that we might be free of sin and be acceptable unto God. What a love God had to do such a thing to his Son. What a love for us to do such a thing for us so that we could be put right with God.

The Christian faith is the only religion whose founder is still alive. And, my friends, he is coming again. And I would say to you today: Do you need a fresh start? Are you a Christian who has fallen away and not been faithful and not been to church and not been reading your Bible and not spending time with God in prayer? Oh, you need a fresh start. You can have that.

Maybe you today have never heard of the gospel. Maybe this is the first time such a hope has been given to you. Find someone who is a Bible believer. Find a church that preaches the Word of God and go there and let a minister of the gospel, a church elder, a leader, someone, introduce you to this risen Savior Jesus the Christ. And you as a lost sinner can be bought. You have been bought. Your sins have been paid for. That debt has been wiped away when you put your faith in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so as we leave you today, this gospel song that follows will remind us of the goodness of God and the grace of God and the message of the gospel that we preach, may God help you, whoever you are, to enjoy a fresh start. Because we serve a risen Savior, we have a brand new life, everything to live for including a future in heaven and that future starts now. And I hope it can for you, even this very day. May God bless you.

Julius Hovan preaches  for the  Bohon Church of Christ near Harrodsburg, KY