Evil Meets Easter – John Stumbo Video Blog No. 81

April 12, 2020

10:24

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On an Easter unlike any other, John shares a foundational message of hope with the Alliance family.

Transcript

Almost seven years ago when I was elected as the 12th president of The Christian and Missionary Alliance and committed to bringing a 12-minute video on the 12th of the month, it never occurred to me that I might come to you at some point in time on Easter Sunday. It’s a great privilege to be welcomed into your home at this moment. And I’m going to bring to us a one-point message that I trust you’ll find meaningful.

He is risen. He is risen indeed. To state the obvious, none of us have ever had an Easter like this one. We live in a tumultuous time, a troublesome time of world history. And I want to take us to a foundational truth, because at all points of life it’s important for us to dig into the word of God and try to listen to what the Spirit is saying to us through the revealed word of God. But especially at a moment like this when it feels like everything’s being shaken around us, we must come to those solid foundational places of hope that the Scripture brings to us and the Spirit reveals to us.

So let me bring one of those truths to you today that’s been meaningful to my own soul. I’ve been reading chronologically through the Bible this year. I am now in the Chronicles. And, simultaneously, my Bible-reading guide is taking me through the Psalms that were written at that time of history. So I’m getting reacquainted with our friends David and Asaph and the sons of Korah. And I noticed this interesting theme emerging that seems very timely.

I find it in Psalms chapter seven—the seventh Psalm. Watch for the word pictures here. These are fascinating. “He who was pregnant with evil”—well, there’s a picture—“he who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble, gives birth to disillusionment.” Verse 15, shifting the metaphor, “he who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself. His violence comes down on his own head.”

This is an interesting perspective of David—that there is evil in this world and there are those who are trying to perpetuate evil in this world. But as they are conceiving trouble and pregnant with evil, what they give birth to isn’t what they expect. The person trying to dig a hole for somebody else to fall in actually falls into that hole himself. The person trying to extend violence actually has that recoil on himself. David is giving us a significant principle here.

He does so in Psalm 9, verse 15. “The nations”—here we have more people digging pits—“The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug, their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The Lord”—in contrast—“the Lord is known for his justice. The wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.” The very thing that evil tries to do actually turns back against itself.

I could take us to other Psalms (Psalm 64, verse 8, Psalm 140, verse 9), the book of Habakkuk, other places in the Scripture that chase this theme of the self-destructive nature of evil. Evil is temporary. This is a foundational truth that I think is very helpful for us at this moment in time. Think of it this way, when did evil begin? Evil doesn’t have . . . evil isn’t endless, only God has no beginning. Everything else had a beginning. When did evil begin? Well, it’s a Christian understanding that it took place when Lucifer led others in rebellion against God. And that rebellion against God is the source of evil and that’s when it began.

On planet earth, we find the same thing. That with Adam and Eve, all was good, all was well. But when they rebelled against God, that’s when evil entered into this world. Therefore, evil is temporary. It is finite; it is limited. It is not permanent nor enduring. It doesn’t win in the end or have the last word, nor is this universe caught, as some would teach in their worldviews, that there is this perpetual battle between light and dark, good and evil that is just a continuous cycle that will continue forever.

That’s not what Christians believe. Christians believe there was a beginning to evil and there will be an end at the return of our Lord Christ and the judgments that follow. This is a unique Christian worldview that evil doesn’t win in the world, and it need not win in our lives either. We are facing new temptations at this moment in time or old ones with new tenacity. We’re facing new fears or old ones with new expressions. We’re facing new world complications or old ones with new nuances.

I’m not downplaying the momentary presence of evil. But Christians, you and I, Christ followers—are able to look it in the eye and name it with greater perspective than any other worldview. Easter, Resurrection day, is one of those points of reference for us that gives this clear evidence of our hope that on the day that it seemed like evil had had its ultimate triumph, on the day that it seemed like Satan has struck the knockout blow, on the day that all the saints wept and it looked as if all hope was lost, on the day that it appeared that evil had the last word, we found out that we were just mid-sentence and that God had much more to say.

Please forgive me if I’ve referenced it too often through the years in my communication, but my own soul journey—I keep coming back to a time of health crisis in my life and lessons that I was learning through that season. After 77 days of hospitalization and the tracheotomy and the attack upon my muscles’ muscular system and the various things that had taken place, I had a voice that embarrassed me. I wrote about it in my journaling efforts. We capture that in this book, In the Midst. I wrote, “I slur a lot of my words. I don’t know what I sound like to you, but to me, I sound like an old man with a bad sinus infection who smoked three packs a day for a lifetime and has been tippling the bottle all afternoon. I’m embarrassed by my own voice. I used to love to sing. Now I have a raspy six-note range.”

A few weeks later, it would be Easter. And with some other issues that were arising physically for me, I wrote this, “A month ago, I reported that I had a six-note range, cracked and weak—but notes, nevertheless. Sadly, I must report that by Easter, I had lost all six. Here it was, the grandest celebration of the Christian year, and I had no voice to sing. My joyful noise was reduced to a whisper and a mere mouthing of words. I whispered and mouthed my way through the service, but I knew I would rather have a reason to sing and no voice than a voice and no reason to sing.”

Here we are on this odd Easter. And whether you have full voice or have lost your voice, whether you get to gather with a few other people or are in complete isolation, whether you have a soul that is full and a spirit that’s free or whether you’re feeling some of the suffocation of this moment, can I remind us that we, Christ follower, we have reason to sing. It’s we that have hope. It’s we that have assurance that evil doesn’t win. It’s we that have a future. We, those of us that are Christ followers—voiceless or full of voice—we have reason for hope. We have reason to sing. So would you say it with me today? He is risen. He is risen indeed.

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