From the orthodox to the charismatic, from small chapels to megachurches, from brick and mortar to digital, pastors nationwide are leading believers and seekers in Easter worship services with the central Christian message – Jesus Christ, God's only begotten son, died on the cross and rose on the third day for the salvation of those who believe in Him.
Lee Strobel, teaching pastor and author of The Case For Easter and many other books, told The Christian Post, "My focus will be on 1 Cor 15:17 – 'And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.' I'll be talking about the historical evidence that convinced me as an atheist that Jesus did rise from the dead and thus back up his claim to being the Son of God. The resurrection is the linchpin of the Christian faith – no resurrection, no Christianity."
Strobel, who is also a professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University, will be preaching during eight Easter services within 24 hours at Mission Community Church in Gilbert, Ariz. His message is one that pastors hope will help bring those attending church or watching online during Easter into a relationship with Jesus.
"I will make a strong evangelistic appeal for people to put their trust in Christ, who died as their substitute to pay for their sins," Strobel wrote in an email to CP. "As resurrection scholar Gary Habermas told me when I interviewed him for The Case for Christ: 'Every bit of evidence for Jesus' resurrection is evidence for my eventual resurrection.' Because Christ conquered the grave, so will all those who have received his free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. That's the good news of Easter!"
Pastor Dharius Daniels, of Kingdom Church in New Jersey, told CP that the Resurrection is "a visible demonstration of buoyancy."
"The Gospel isn't a gospel of avoidance but a gospel of endurance. Jesus didn't avoid death and there will be unpleasant experiences that we can't avoid either. However, just as the Father did with Jesus, he gives us power to overcome what we can't alter," Daniels said.
When asked what he would like for people attending his Easter services to come away with, he said, "Our hope is multifaceted but I guess my greatest desire is that the love and worship experienced in our Easter gatherings represents Jesus properly. We are aware that Christianity has had some brand challenges and we want our church family to accurately represent Jesus and we also hope that as many of our guests as possible would personally experience Him."
At Robinwood Church in Orange County California, where the worship leans towards Pentecostal style, Pastor David Housholder said his church will be presenting "a dramatic, acted-out sermon from the perspective of the women on the way to the tomb."
"We will be focusing on 'The Hopeful Daughters,'" Housholder told CP. "They never gave up on Jesus and the Lord trusted them with the message of the Resurrection. My hope is that we can create loving, joy filled communities that spontaneously bring forth 'Hopeful Daughters' who show us the way to the Risen Christ."
His church plans to give out flannel stoles to those attending at the conclusion of the drama that will be in a "in a pile at the gravesite, representing the empty grave clothes of Jesus." The stoles can be used "in prayer if they choose to in order to remember the faithfulness and hope the women had."
Evangelist and pastor Greg Laurie, of Harvest Church and Ministries based in Southern California, shared with CP that the title of his message is "What Easter Means to You."
In a snippet of his message to be preached on Sunday, he writes, "Easter is for everyone. Some of you come today devastated by the death of a loved one. Perhaps they were with you last year, but now they are gone. The message of the resurrection of Jesus is, if that loved one died with faith in Christ, you will see them again.
"Easter is also for those who have failed spiritually. The message of the angels at the empty tomb was 'Go tell the disciples and Peter He is risen!' (Mark 16) Peter had denied the Lord three times before that.
"Even if you have failed in your spiritual life, this Easter God can give you a second chance.
"Easter is also for skeptics. One of Jesus' disciples, Thomas was filled with skepticism. Jesus personally reached out to him and turned that skeptic into a believer. God can do the same for us this Easter."
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Christian Post reporter Nicola Menzie contributed to this article.