This is from Will. "Hi Pastor Tim, My pastor in my local church taught us in one of our Bible studies to focus not on the cross, but on the resurrection of Christ. The reason he gave is that the cross is a picture of suffering and punishment while resurrection is the victory of Jesus over death. I somehow feel wrong about that because I know that when I look to the cross, I see the love of God for me, humility of Jesus, and the forgiveness of my sins. I know that looking to the cross and seeing what God did for me is what saved me and made me born again. Please can you give your insight over this? Thank you and God bless. Will." Let's think about this. What he says is happening is he feels like his pastor is putting the resurrection - Christ rising from the dead - that he's making that more important than what Christ did on the cross. Now, what I would say is this: To this pastor's benefit, I have a hard time believing that the pastor was actually teaching what this guy says. Listen to him again. "My pastor in my local church taught us in one Bible study, to focus not on the cross, but on the resurrection of Christ." Okay, I can recognize that somebody might say that. But then he says this: "The reason he gave is that the cross is a picture of suffering and punishment." See, I don't think the pastor probably said that. The cross is a picture. When I hear picture, I hear like a shadow. Like it portrays something. There was actual suffering and punishment that took place - I doubt his pastor said it exactly like this. But just to his pastor's credit, listen, I heard a beloved brother speak on the garden of Gethsemane. And he made comments that made it sound like in his estimation the garden was more important than the cross. Now, I didn't chalk that up to this brother being a heretic. I chalked it up to the fact that he was preaching two or three messages at this conference on the Garden of Gethsemane. He had been immersing himself in Christ in the Garden and His sorrows and His sweating blood and the turmoil in His soul. He was feeling it. And so it was fresh. And so the comments that he made I have a feeling were influenced by that. I would venture out and say probably, this pastor was studying the resurrection. If you get all embroiled in a study of the resurrection, you can come forth: everything is resurrection! That's probably what happened. But grab your Bibles. Go to the book of Acts. I mean, I want you to see something here about the resurrection. What's important about the book of Acts? Well, the book of Acts is the book of church history following immediately on the heels of Christ coming out of that tomb alive. This is fresh with those guys. And I'll tell you this, they were blown away by the fact Christ came out of that grave. (incomplete thought) You could tell, they were absorbed with this. They were rocked by this. So you go to the book of Acts. I'm trying to get there. Just start right in the beginning. Acts 1:22. I mean right from the beginning, they wanted somebody to replace Judas. They wanted somebody that was there from the baptism of John. A witness to His resurrection. From the baptism of John all the way to the ascension, but somebody that was a witness specifically of His resurrection. You go to chapter 2:23. "This Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." I hope you hear: there's the cross. V. 24, "God raised Him up loosing the pangs of death because it was not possible for Him to be held by it." You keep going. Go on in chapter 2:31. "He foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of Christ that He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption." V. 32, "This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses." You keep going. Go to chapter 3. You see, you go to chapter 3:14, "you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed (there's the cross) the Author of life whom God raised from the dead." You see, the thing is, we don't want to separate what God has joined together. You don't want to say: Oh, this one's more important than this one. Listen, you know what Paul said? Paul said that he would glory in nothing but the cross of Jesus Christ. He talks repeatedly about this cross and about the blood. Look, what we need to recognize is this, is the resurrection important? You better believe it's important. Just look at this. 1 Corinthians. We're not going to keep going through the book of Acts because it's everywhere. The resurrection is everywhere, but so is the cross. But when you go to 1 Corinthians 15, look with me here. V. 1, "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and in which you stand." If you're saved, you stand on this truth. What? "...By which you're being saved." Being saved. You are presently being saved. Not just: you were. It's not a one time thing. These are truths we rest in, we stand in, and we're being saved on a regular basis, day by day, moment by moment. We live from faith to faith in these realities. What? "I delivered to you as of first importance..." What's the first, most important aspect of the Gospel? He's telling us right here. "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. He was buried. He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." You see, both these truths are at the heart of this message. Now if we keep going, look at v. 12. "If Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there's no resurrection of the dead? If there's no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." You see, our faith is in vain if Christ isn't raised. Why? Because if Christ isn't raised, keep reading. V. 16, "If the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you're still in your sins." Why? Well, think with me. The wage of sin is death. Christ became sin and died. But the moment sin is fully paid for, death has no claim on Him. It can't. The very proof He paid for sins. If those sins never got paid, He's in hell right now. The only way He comes out of the grave is if my sin - all those He's died for - if that sin is paid. But you see, here's the thing, on the cross, He paid the debt. Not in the garden. Scripture doesn't say that. It's by the shedding of His blood on that cross that there is atonement for my soul and your soul. It's by His blood. It's by His death. He had to become sin. He had to be crushed. He had to be forsaken. He had to suffer my punishment there. And that's what happened on that cross. That cross. That's where the payment was made. That's where the ransom price was paid. It comes by blood. We are cleansed by the shedding of blood. Without the shedding of blood, there's no remission. (incomplete thought) But you see, if He didn't come out of the grave, our faith is hopeless, because it means that He didn't accomplish anything redemptive on that cross. Both are necessary. Both are of first importance. We want to preach them both. We want to be dogmatic about both. Because if He didn't come out of the grave you're still dead in your sins and so am I. But He did rise. You see, this is his argument. He says if Jesus didn't come out of that grave, we of all people are most to be pitied. Why? Because we're living our life following this Christ, turning our backs to the world, enduring the persecution - by the way, that's what Scripture said. If you're determined to live a godly life, you're going to suffer persecution. Through many tribulations, you enter the kingdom. Jesus said I didn't come to bring peace. I came to bring a sword. He says it. Did I fight with beasts in Ephesus? What's this sacrifice in this Christian life worth if in the end I go to hell? He says of all people, we're most miserable. We're most to be pitied. Why? Because if the dead didn't rise, we all ought to go out this door right now and eat and drink and be merry, because this is all there is and tomorrow we die and we go to hell. Which, by the way, if you're in this room and you have not embraced this sacrificial death on that cross and this hope of resurrection, that's exactly - we aren't the most to be pitied. You know why? Christ did come out of the grave. (incomplete thought) You know who's most to be pitied in reality? You are. You know why? Because you are under the sound of the Gospel and Jesus said to His disciples, if they hear you preach and they don't receive it, it's going to be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for them. You know who is most miserable? You know who's most miserable? It really isn't the guy out there who doesn't know any of this. And I know that. When I was lost, I could sin. I could sin. I could drink it like water. But you know what? I thought it was okay. I thought well, I'm not that good, but I'm not that bad. And I'm going to get this right. I'm going to play the religious game. I'm going to get this right. And so you know what? Even while I'm living it up, and I'm living this crazy life, I really thought I was going to heaven. But you know what? I recognize this with my son Joshua. He knew so much truth, when he tried to play with sin, it was right there all the time: "You're going to hell." You know what he told Ruby and I? He just tried to convince himself hell was endurable; that he could endure it. That's what he tried to convince himself. Because you know what, if you've sat under the truth, you of all people are most miserable - if you're going out there in the world and you're trying to drink your sin, because you know there's a hell. And you know there's a God. There is a God who deals - it seems severe. Scripture says so. The severity of God. His justice is severe. Not that it's unjust. But I'll tell you what, for any infraction of His law to be sent to hell forever, that ought to tell you, all you have to do is look at that cross and hear Christ: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" You look at that cross and it will tell you what sin deserves. You of all people are most miserable if you have not embraced this Christ. Because while you're trying to drink your sin, you can't do it freely. There's always a shadow. There's always your conscience beating this drumbeat: hell, hell, hell... it's forever, forever, forever. No, those of us that have embraced Christ, we of all people are not most miserable. We are the most to be envied, not the most to be pitied. Because we found it! We've found the Treasure of all treasures. We have found pardon for our sin and it opens the way to eternal paradise. And you go on your way in your sin, and it's only going to open into eternal despair. Live it up now. That's what Paul says. Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die - if the dead aren't raised. But you know what? That's what you ought to do if you're just going to go on rejecting Christ. Go eat and drink. Live it up. Don't play the game. Don't play at Christianity. One foot in, one foot out. You are most miserable among the children of men. Why? Because you're trying to play the Christian, and all the time you want the world. So you're not really accepted by both. The world looks at you and says you're a religious nut. Christians look at you and they say you don't smell right. You constantly have your eyes on the world. And you of all people will be most miserable because you're trying to play the Christian game and in the end, you're going to lose your soul. What you want to do is see Christ dying on that cross and know this, He became sin. God laid sin on Him. And He suffered and He died. Scripture says He was crushed. God crushed Him on that cross. God put Him in the vice of His wrath and He squeezed until His soul ran out of Him. Spilled - that's what Psalm 22 says. Poured out like water. He just wrung Him out. Why? In the place of sinners. But then He burst forth from that grave to show it was paid. Satisfied. We don't want to let go of either of those truths. They are both of principal, primary importance. First magnitude when it comes to the Gospel. Amen.