Weekly Newsletter – April 13, 2020
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
He Spoke Her Name –John 20:16
Springtime has finally arrived in Michigan, blossoming forth in beauty and majesty. The earth is rising from her cold, barren slumber, exclaiming to anyone who will hear: “Look at me – I’m alive!” Everywhere you look, it is so shockingly spectacular.
The month of April is said to derive its name from the Latin verb aperio, which means “to open.” As I look at the sights and sounds breaking forth around me, I can’t help but feel the month is aptly named. There is the budding of the foliage. The grass has become a soft carpet of green once again. Even the robins have returned home to nest, chirping happily above me in the trees.
Deep inside, despite the challenges we face with the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel my own state of mind coming alive with the countryside. There is a new sense of joy and expectation with each decision that I face!
That is why I always look forward to this exciting, flowery season of the year. To me, the experience of life bursting forth from a wintry grave is the perfect setting in which to celebrate the Resurrection. As a matter of fact, I feel spring is almost as beautiful as the Easter holiday itself – for both typify life, hope and love.
Think about that first, remarkable Resurrection morning with me…
For three dark days, the cold bite of death had filled the air as our Savior’s body lay lifeless in a tomb.
The cost was immense. Only His crimson blood was sufficient to take away the sins of the world. Only His shed blood could make our spirits safe and ready for heaven. On the morning of the third day, the sacrifice was accepted. The price of our salvation was paid in full.
Just two days before, several women had stood nearby the hill of Golgotha, witnessing the painful events of the cross. They had left their homes several months earlier to journey with Jesus as He shared His teachings throughout the Judean countryside. At the foot of the blood-stained cross stood Mary the mother of Jesus, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophs, and Mary Magdalene out of whom Jesus had cast seven devils. (Mark 15:40,41; John 19:25, Mark 16:9)
But where did these women go? On the miraculous morning of the Resurrection, only Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, would come forward to minister to the entombed body of Jesus. (Mark 16:1)
Mary Magdalene receives a blessing
The painful memories of the cross must have run time and time again in Mary’s mind. If ever she loved her Lord, it must have been at this special moment in history – as she realized the cost of salvation being purchased for her through the life of God’s Son. I am sure the image of her bleeding Savior continued to melt her already tender heart with love and grace.
How strikingly beautiful to recognize that the one who had been forgiven of so much would be the first to see our Lord after His resurrection. (Mark 16:9)
Perhaps one reason our sovereign Lord provided Mary with this distinction is because she was in the right place. Her arrival at the tomb was a selfless act of servanthood. She came before the morning light to care lovingly for the dead body of Jesus and anoint it with the proper spices of embalming. (Mark 16:1)
With the stone rolled away, Mary frantically ran to tell Peter and John. (John 20:2) “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre,” she cried, “and we know not where they have laid him!”
Later, Mary would return to the site of the tomb, where she would weep in agony for the lost body of her Master. As she cried, she stooped down to take a look inside the cold, empty sepulchre. There she saw the linen wrappings, with the face cloth, in a place by itself. She saw two angels in white, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been lying. They said to her, “Woman, why weepest thou?”
“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have taken Him.” she replied.
Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing before her. But she didn’t know it was He. (John 20:11-14) Jesus said to her, “Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?” (John 20:15)
Perhaps her eyes were so flooded with tears – the agony and distress of the past three days – that she did not recognize the Lord. (Of course, the fact that Jesus was also in a glorified body also could have changed His perspective to her.) Mary thought He was the gardener.
Mary Magdalene recognized His voice
Then Jesus said to her, “Mary.” That’s all it took. He quietly spoke her name. She turned herself and said unto Him, “Rabboni!” which is to say, “Master.” (John 20:16)
After all that she had been through … after witnessing the grueling death on the cross … after believing the body of her Lord had been stolen … I can hardly begin to imagine how wonderful it must have felt to recognize His voice.
It must have been an incredible moment, as she realized “He is alive!”
Faith must have welled up within her. Peace flooded her soul. “Everything is going to be all right,” she must have thought. “My Lord is alive … and He has everything under control.”
Mary had listened to Him on many occasions, sharing the truth and comfort of God’s Word throughout the Judean countryside. Nothing could comfort Her soul like the matchless voice of the Master. And now, He stood miraculously before her!
By faith, you and I accept His teaching as His voice in our lives today.
I have experienced His voice as He speaks to me through His Word – through the sense of peace in regard to a decision I am making through prayer – and through the direction of circumstances I have faced. But I have never personally heard an audible voice, speaking my name.
Yet one day we will! One incredible, glorious day He will say to you and me, “Come up hither.” (Revelation 4:1) When He does, on that great and glorious day, we will recognize His familiar voice! (John 10:27)
Mary Magdalene rejoiced in His promise
Seeing the risen Lord standing before her, I am confident Mary was reminded of the many times Jesus predicted and promised His Resurrection. (Matthew 16:21; John 10:17,18; John 2:19-21)
At the time these words were spoken, they probably seemed confusing, meaningless and without hope to her. But now, as she looked into the compassionate eyes of her risen Savior, she couldn’t help but rejoice in the promises He had spoken. Her weeping ceased and her emotions instantaneously turned to joy.
As you and I receive the Lord, we experience this same sense of excitement and comfort in our soul, as we realize the truth that is found in the promises of God’s Word. We rejoice in the salvation purchased for us at Calvary (John 3:16; Romans 3:24,25), and in the fact that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that we are not saved by the works of the law, but totally as a gift of faith. (Galatians 3:13) These promises comfort our soul.
In the same way, we should also receive tremendous joy in the promises Jesus has spoken in His Word that have yet to be fulfilled. He is coming again, friend, and He is preparing a place for you and me. (John 14:1-6)
Mary Magdalene shared the Good News
Look at all the events that transpired in the life of Mary Magdalene: She experienced the joy of receiving forgiveness from Jesus Christ. She was set free from the bondage of demons that controlled her life. She witnessed the precious redemption of men’s souls at the cross of Calvary. Now, she is seeing the resurrected Lord standing before her, in one of the most historical events in history – an event around which the entire universe revolves.
After witnessing and experiencing all these amazing things in her life, Mary must have been overwhelmed with a sense of excitement!
I can’t imagine any other reaction, except running out and telling others about the Good News of what she had seen … and that is precisely what she did! (John 20:18)
This is the same excitement that should reside inside of us, after we encounter the salvation of the Lord in our lives.
Jesus is alive. Jesus is alive in us! (Galatians 2:20) May our hearts bud and bloom with a holy desire to share the Good News of the Lord during this wonderful time of the year!
A CLASSIC MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
The Importance of Christ’s Resurrection
On June 18, 1815, twelve miles south of Brussels and two miles from the Belgian village of Waterloo—largely through a series of mistakes and misunderstandings among his own leaders— Napoleon was soundly defeated by Arthur Wellesley, better known as the Duke of Wellington. At the time of this victory, one of the strangest events in the annals of England’s history took place.
Without our modem means of communication, the people in those days were limited to semaphore signals. The news of Wellington’s decisive victory was passed along until finally, in the last relay from a ship out in the channel, the message was passed on to receivers stationed high in the towers of Westminster Abbey. The communication stated, “Wellington defeated.”
When those two words were received, a heavy fog rolled across London and the message—just as received—was passed on to the waiting people. All of London was filled with grief and despair as strong men sobbed openly and women agonized in the streets. However, a few hours later another wind blew the fog away, and the message from the ship began again, this time adding a third word and reading, “Wellington defeated Napoleon.”
What a difference! The first message said, “Wellington defeated,” and the fog stopped the third word. But later the message said, “Wellington defeated Napoleon.” Oh, the rejoicing that took place in England when they got the third word of that message.
A similar event took place at Calvary. On the day of the crucifixion, the fog of hell seemed to roll in with its message, “Christ defeated.” That day ended with a broken, bloody, dead Messiah and scattered, weeping, defeated disciples. Then, three days and three nights later, the fog was dispelled by the brightness of glory. Special archangels from heaven descended to earth and rolled back the stone from the empty tomb so that a waiting world could read the entire message, “Christ defeated Satan.” Hallelujah! Christ defeated Satan. Praise God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You must believe in the Resurrection
We are living in a day and age when many apostate, liberal, modernistic ministers scoff at the Resurrection. Dr. Duncan E. Littlefair has a book entitled The Changing Religious Thought. I quote from pages 104 and 105. Listen to this blasphemy: “The resurrection is not peculiar to Christianity. Don’t you go building religion on this basis. Don’t build it on the idea that somehow or another something different happened in Christianity because Jesus was raised from the dead. It is not so. It just isn’t so. I say to you that this physical resurrection must stop being a dominant thing in our minds. We have to understand it differently. We must see it with our spiritual eyes. The virgin birth is a mythological tale.”
This is a minister speaking! Well, I choose to believe God (see Acts 27:25)! Matthew 1:23 says, Behold, a virgin shall be with child. Let’s listen to God rather than men.
Dr. Littlefair continues, “The virgin birth is a story designed to say something. It wasn’t meant to be understood physically. It was a picturesque way of telling something wonderful that couldn’t be told any other way. The resurrection story is the same.”
It should not be taken physically? Wait a minute! Let’s see what God has to say. In Luke 24:39, Jesus appeared to His disciples after the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, and He was in a body. He said, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself [you do not believe it?]: handle me, and see [come on and touch me!]; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
Dr. Littlefair says this should not be taken literally, as far as the physical is concerned! He further states, “Don’t take it with your crude literal hands and destroy it. A rolled away stone and some clothes left there—how trivial and insignificant.” Really? The literal, physical Resurrection is insignificant? Oh, Dr. Littlefair, how about Romans 10:9,10 which says that if you do not believe in this literal Resurrection you cannot be saved? That if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shall be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Dr. Littlefair goes on to say, “Two men sitting there announced that the body was no longer there. One of the disciples putting his finger into the wound in the side, Jesus eating a fish to show that He was physical, passing through a wall to give a miracle, and, finally, rising up with His body. If you stop to think about it you realize the absurdity of it.”
Sir, the only absurdity I see is in the article you have written in your book which does away with the precious story of what the Holy Bible, God’s Word, has to say about the Resurrection.
In one paragraph, this accomplished apostate denies the virgin birth, the Resurrection, the ascension, the existence of heaven, and the integrity of the Holy Scriptures. Philippians 3:10 says, That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection. Let me tell you, when you really know Jesus—not about Jesus, but know Him with your heart—you also know the power of the Resurrection. You know it is not just myth. You know that it is real.
In 2 Peter 1:16, the apostle says, For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. In other words, Peter says, “This is not something that we hatched up in a dream—it is something that we saw with our own eyes.”
The pages of the Holy Bible are literally saturated with Resurrection truth. Job 19:25: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
In Mark 16:6 the angel says, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen.
In John 11:25 Jesus Christ says, I am the resurrection, and the life.
Peter, preaching in Acts 5:30, says, The God of our fathers raised up Jesus.
Romans 4:25: Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Romans 8:34: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God.
First Corinthians 15:3,4: Christ died for our sins…And…he was buried, and…he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
First Thessalonians 1:10: And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead.
Second Timothy 2:8: Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead.
Hebrews 13:20,21: Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep…Make you perfect.
Revelation 1:18: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore. There is one thing this Book teaches and that is the story of the Resurrection.
Our faith depends on the Resurrection
I want to show you how vain, how empty, how meaningless, and how futile the Christian religion would be without the Resurrection. I believe the greatest chapter on the subject is 1 Corinthians 15. Look at verses 1-8: Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved. What is that gospel? Verses 3-4: How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day.
Then God, through Paul, goes to the trouble of giving us the witnesses who saw Christ in His new body, for He says in verses 5-8: He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he, was seen of above [or over] five hundred brethren at once…After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also.
Does it really matter whether or not one accepts the Resurrection story? I have already quoted Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shall be saved.
You cannot be saved unless you believe the Resurrection story. Why? Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19: Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. Now here is the victorious note—But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept (verse 20).
There are a number of points here that we need to see. First of all, if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is vain (verse 14). Vain means “empty” or “meaningless.” Why? We would be preaching about a deceiver.
Jesus made some startling predictions. He said in Matthew 12:39,40, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Hear Jesus again in Matthew 16:21, From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Jesus said in John 2:19, Destroy this temple [this body], and in three days I will raise it up. He said, in effect, “They are going to kill Me; I will be in a grave for three days, but I am coming out of that grave.” If He had not done that, all our preaching would be in vain because we would be preaching about a deceiver who predicted many things and never fulfilled them.
We would also be preaching about one who had taught erroneously. If He could not back up the teaching of the Resurrection, then He would not be able to back up the teaching of the new birth when He said in John 3:7, Ye must be born again. He would not be able to back up the teaching of heaven when He said in John 14:2, In my Father’s house are many mansions. He would not be able to back up the teaching of salvation when He said in John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. But, praise God, He is risen and He is not a deceiver. We can believe every one of His teachings.
Second, our faith is also vain (verse 14). Why? Because one is trusting in a Saviour who could not produce what He had promised. He said, “I will come out of the grave the third day.” If He did not do it, He would not have kept His promises. If He could not keep that promise, He could not keep the others He made.
For instance, John 8:12: I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 10:9: I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.
John 11:25,26: I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
John 14:6: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
If He could not fulfill the promise of His resurrection, He would not be able to fulfill these other promises. Therefore, our faith would be in vain because we would be trusting in one who could not fulfill what He had promised. Praise God, Christ is risen and we can accept every promise. Because He fulfilled the first promise concerning His resurrection, He will fulfill all the rest. He will be the Light of the world to you. He will be the Door to heaven. He will be the Way. He will be your Resurrection and Life if you will let Him into your heart today.
Third, we are found false witnesses (verse 15). Why? Because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. Matthew would have lied because he recorded the Resurrection story in chapter 28. He said in verse 6, He is risen. Mark would have lied, for he recorded the same story in chapter 16. He triumphantly cried out in verse 6, He is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
Luke also would have been a prevaricator because he described the blessed Resurrection in a narrative found in Luke 24. He said in verse 3, And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. Why? Because He was risen. John would have been untruthful because he unfolded the Resurrection scene in John 20. The Apostle Peter would have been a false witness because he said in Acts 3:15, [You] killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead.
All of these men would have been false witnesses or liars had they preached these truths, knowing that Christ’s body had been stolen. However, they were filled with the blessed Holy Spirit and integrity. The greatest proof that they believed the message they declared is the fact that they went through horrible torture and death for the message they proclaimed.
Do you think a man would give his life if he did not really believe what he was preaching? Matthew’s body was run through with a spear. Mark was dragged through the streets of Alexandria until the skin was torn off his body and his blood seeped into the sand. Then he died. Luke was hanged, and John was thrown into boiling oil. Peter was crucified, and Paul was beheaded.
These men would not have given their lives if they knew it had been a concocted message. No, praise God, let’s say it again. He is risen! That is why these men were not false witnesses and why they even gave their lives for the message they preached.
Fourth, if there be no Resurrection, then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ [those who have died in Christ] are perished (verse 18). If Christ perished, then we which are in Christ shall perish. If Christ had not been able to overcome death, then we who are in Christ shall certainly not be able to overcome death, because our energy, strength, and life must come from Him. Our Saviour said in John 14:19, Because I live, ye shall live also. Let me tell you this: Because He is risen (praise God), all of our loved ones who died in Jesus are now in the presence of the Lord. Because He has eternal life in Him, He can give us this eternal life. Christ spoke the truth when He said in John 11:25 and 26, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. You can have life—eternal life—if you will come to this Jesus.
Finally, if Christ be not risen, we are of all men most miserable (verse 19). Of course! Why? Because our preaching would be vain. Our faith would be vain. We would be false witnesses, and we would perish. Let me say it one more time. HE IS RISEN! Our preaching is not vain, and our faith is not vain. We are not found false witnesses, and we shall never perish. We shall be with Jesus for the ages of ages. Oh, let Him into your heart today!
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
I thank God for Jack and Rexella’s full gospel ministry. I treasure the newsletters sent to me. I have saved every one of them.
Today, murderers kill and are killed with no thought of He’ll as their choice. I’ve heard scorers say they want to go to hell because all their friends will be there, as if he’ll will be an eternal party. Hell is quite the contrary !
Thank you for your full gospel ministry.
I got up at 3 am to talk with God. My husband and I are praying every day for many problems and concerns. Reading your message on prayer was so uplifting and just what I needed. God directed me to read it right at this time. It has pulled me out of depression and reaffirmed me that God is listening and answering our pleas.
Sometimes I don’t know what to do or even what to pray for. Now knowing that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me is so comforting.
Thank you Rexella for helping me and thank you for all the hope you ad Dr Jack have given me over the years.
I love you and am praying for you.
God Bless you.
HIGHLIGHTED MINISTRY OFFERS
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