"Won by ONE!"
By Rev. James A. Splitt
Sermon April 19, 1998 - 2nd Easter Sunday
John 20:19-31 Rev. 1:4-8 I Cor. 15
[The title of this Sermon was inspired by the title of the book
Won by One
by Ron Rand, Regal Books, 1998]
The Church calendar says that this is the 2nd Easter
Sunday. We're going
to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus again this
There is a certainty about the earliest Christians. They
resurrection every day. Without the resurrection, the
disciples would have
been miserable, unhappy souls, who would have remained afraid,
and incapable of ever becoming apostles [apostolon]. The
writer of our
Gospel text says that it was evening of THAT DAY!
Resurrection day! . .
.when Jesus came to them; that is, His disciples ... all of
Thomas. He came to them and won them into becoming
apostles. It would be
another eight days before Thomas would overcome his doubt and
fears and be
transformed from disciple to apostle.
Disciple means a student. One who is disciplined to
learn. While they
were traveling with Jesus they were His students, His
disciples. As soon as
they believed the resurrection by witnessing the risen Christ
they had a new
title and a new commission. They became the "ones who
were sent"! Apostle
means one who is sent on a mission. A Hebrew expression,
like that of
apostle, meant sending one from the original source to spread or
others. In every case, the apostles lived the resurrection
day by day,
telling others about the risen Christ. The message was
simple we have been
WON by ONE who is risen from the dead.
Let's look at the documentation we have in 1 Corinthians
15. Begin with
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also
Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that
buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with
scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the
twelve. Then he
appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of
still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he
appeared to James,
then to all the apostles. Last of all as to one untimely
born, he appeared
also to me."
Now go to verse 12:
Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some
of you say
that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is
of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not
then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
And on to verse 20:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.
Following a lengthy discourse on the resurrection of the dead,
concludes with (verse 54)
"death is swallowed up in victory" ... Therefore
my beloved brethren, be
steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
in the Lord your labor is not in vain."
On the morning, when the women came to the tomb, there was an
emptiness and silence. Amazed that the stone had been
rolled away they
entered a vault of darkness where the stench of death was
the silence was a voice of one who said, "He is not here, he
It was THAT DAY, resurrection day, when Jesus came back.
The Hymn by George Frederick Handel expresses the victory of
Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son; Endless is the
o'er death has won!
Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb; lovingly He greets us,
fear and gloom. Let the church with gladness Hymns of
triumph sing, for her
Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.
So many people have tried to express what resurrection means to
John's testimony in Revelation is to say:
"to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His
blood and made
us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to him be glory and
forever and ever."
Julia Esquivel, a woman in exile from the tortures her people
in Guatemala is the author of the book Amenazado de
[Threatened with Resurrection]. Kathleen had the
opportunity to meet Julia
last January when she visited her at her home in Guatemala
┴Acompanos en esta vigilia y sabrs lo que es
soar! ┴Sabrs entonces lo
maravilloso que es vivir amenazado de Resurreccin!
Join us in this vigil and you will know what it is to
dream! Then you will
know how marvelous it is to live threatened with
Resurrection! To dream
awake, to keep watch asleep, to live while dying, and to know
We have been WON by ONE who died for our sins and came back to
life so that
we might have eternal life. We must live the
resurrection. Let me suggest
three reasons for living the resurrection daily, every day, every
First, IT IS CENTRAL! It is the foundation of our
resurrection, there is no Christianity. A person who does
not believe the
resurrection cannot claim to be Christian. I remember being
with a young man who was really struggling with
Christianity. He said, I
can believe everything Christ teaches. I really know we are
to love one
another and all that. But I'm just not sure about the
Resurrection is central to any faith. The disciples could
not go forth on
a mission in which all meet a martyr's death, unless they felt as
Esquivel did ... that they were already resurrected with
Christ. There is
no other Christian message.
We are trying to figure out what it will take for our church to
want new classroom space, we want a paved parking lot. We
want a new
sanctuary for at least 300 people to worship. We want
people to walk
through these doors so we can watch our numbers grow.
Church growth is not
a statistical challenge. Church growth has nothing to do
with how many
people we can bring into membership. Church growth is based
proclamation and witness to the resurrection. We need to be
what it means for us to to believe and live the resurrection on a
day to day
basis. Believing that we have been Won by One who redeems
us is central to
everyday life. When our belief is genuine the church will grow.
Secondly, the Resurrection is comforting. George
Bernard Shaw said that
"death has some impressive statistics." The
one part of our service where
we seem to get really involved is during requests for
prayer. I visited
Barbara Haven's sister Nancy Kraft at Christ hospital this
week. As you
know from Barbara's concern, Nancy is suffering from many
emotional difficulties. Nancy asked for a Bible so she
could read it and
find some comfort. I looked around her room hoping to find
a Gideon Bible,
but none was to be found. And just at that moment a
volunteer form the
Pastoral Care department walked in and offered communion.
"Could Nancy get
a Bible?" I asked. The volunteer saw to it.
I met Nanette Smallwood at University hospital in the E.R. after
been hurt in an automobile accident. She had not seen Eric
yet and was
still uncertain about the extent of his injuries. I held
out my arms to her
as I walked into the room, and she broke into tears. When
we bring the
message of resurrection, we bring hope and comfort.
We do not get an exemption from suffering or from death. We
do all we can
to keep on ticking, but we are all going to die. Believing
resurrection means we can put our trust in the One who has won
eternal life. Living the resurrection helps us to put our
priorities in the
Resurrection is central to the Christian life and it brings us
Thirdly, living the resurrection is challenging! We have a
mission to tell
the good news. Evangelism happens when you tell the
story! It is
intentional. If resurrection hasn't changed you, you have
nothing to say.
Thomas didn't get it for a week after Christ had already appeared
500 people and all the other disciples. At first, his
skepticism kept him
from turning the tassel and graduating to apostleship. The
good news is
that he got the message, believed and went on to meet the
For years we have believed that religion is a private
matter. We keep our
faith to ourselves. Or, we are careful how we say things so
we don't offend
anyone. Living the resurrection is a challenge to make a
tell the story; becoming an apostle, sent with a message. We need
confront the secular world head on with a message that says we
live in the
joy of the resurrection. Otherwise loving one another does
not make sense.
I know some of you have recently been discussing the movie, The
Advocate. The gruesome realities of giving ourselves over
to the power of
Satan can be very real. However, we learn that the power of
defeated in the act of grace, the desire to love, and the
commitment to live
the joyous life.
Living the resurrection is a challenge that can be met by
everyone in this
sanctuary, anyone who is able to hear the testimony of those who
and heard ... "He is risen, he is not here!"
We can play on the winning team, won by the One who is the center
life, who comforts us along the way, and who challenges us with a
forth to spread the Good News. Amen!