(Photo: Saddleback Church/Scott Tokar)
Perhaps the reason many people don't get excited about Easter is that they do not know the full meaning of Jesus' resurrection and are not viewing the holy day in "3D," said Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren during one of the first of his weekend service messages Friday.
Warren related the fact that 3D movies have grown in number and popularity recently because some people believe they offer a "fuller experience," using the analogy as an illustration that shows that there is more to the Easter story than what many may perceive as one-dimensional.
He will be giving his Easter sermon at the megachurch located in Lake Forest, Calif., several times in order to accommodate 35 church services held on the main campus and satellite campuses throughout Orange County and neighboring Riverside County through Sunday. All Saddleback's Easter services are broadcast on the church's website as well.
"I mean it's the biggest event in history. It split history into AD and BC. Every time you write a date you are using Jesus Christ's resurrection as a reference point … 2012 years from what? From this event," said Warren to the more than 1,000 in attendance.
"Yet, most people don't get excited about Easter and the reason why is they have never seen it in 3D. They've only seen it in black and white," he explained. Helping everyone to see "Easter in all three dimensions because it's not a one-dimensional event" is what Warren said he wanted to accomplish with his message.
He went on to say, "The first dimension of Easter is the proof of the resurrection … The second dimension of Easter is the promise of the resurrection … The third dimension, and most people don't get this one, is the power of the resurrection."
Most people have never experienced the power of resurrection in their life, said Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life.
"The third dimension is what God wants to do in your life right now. That's the power," he highlighted. "A lot of people acknowledge the proof of the resurrection. Fewer people get the promise of the resurrection – the eternal promise of the resurrection. Very few people acquire the power of the resurrection."
Before backing his message with verses from the Bible, Warren said that he wanted everyone listening to "listen as if your life depended on it … because it does."
Later in the service, he answered the question found in the sermon notes outline that asked, "How do I get the full benefit of Jesus' resurrection?"
The notes (with fill-in answer provided) state:
1. I accept the proof.
"If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." – Romans 10:9
2. I believe His promise.
"God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." – John 3:16
3. I count on His power on a daily basis.
"I think you ought to know about the hard time we went through in Asia. We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; BUT THAT WAS GOOD, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead. And he did help us and saved us… andwe expect him to do it again and again!" – 2 Corinthians 1:8-10
Warren ended his sermon with an "Easter prayer," in which he asked those in attendance or watching online to join either silently or out loud.
"Dear Jesus, I want to enjoy the full benefit of your death and resurrection for me. Thank you for what you did. I accept the proof that you are the Son of God. And I accept your promise of forgiveness and eternal life because you are the only one who paid for my sins. You deserve to be the Lord of my life. I need your power – the power of the resurrection in my life on a daily basis. I want to get to know you and learn how to rely on your power, so I can live the better life, the life I was meant to live. Please come into my life and change me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen," he prayed.
On Easter of 1980, Saddleback Valley Community Church (full name) held its first public service with 205 people attending, most of whom had never been to church, according to a history page found on its website.
"That began one of the most exciting journeys of growth that any church has experienced in American history. In more than two decades of ministry in South Orange County, God has continued to expand the church´s influence. Currently, Saddleback Church has more than 200 ministries serving the church and community. One in nine people in the area call Saddleback their church home," the church states. Presently, about 20,000 people attend the church regularly.