John and I were very close friends. We worked together when I was president of Southwestern College, now Southwestern Christian University. God mightily used John to help me reach several hundred Iranian students with the Gospel of Jesus Christ who were enrolled at Southwestern because of our exceptional math and science professors. Our chapel was too small, and so I made an executive decision to use the gymnasium for chapel twice a week and made it mandatory for all students to attend, as well as faculty and staff. I asked John to be in charge of the chapel services and to obtain the best speakers we could get. I am confident that Gospel seed was planted in those students and it will bear fruit. Only time and eternity will reveal what God did in the hearts and lives of those your Iranian students. God gave me opportunity to speak with many of them personally.
I held John and Edna Parker in high esteem and regarded them as valued friends. Edna was a delightful person, full of wit and humor, and a joy to be around. She was a great hostess and an exceptional cook.]
And now . . . let us read John Parker's sermon:
This command, given by Jesus on the morning of His resurrection, is recorded in both Matthew 28:7 and Mark 16:7. The command includes both an activity and a reason for that activity. In Matthew 28:28-30, the command is reinforced while in Mark 16:15, it is emphasized again. Thus we have not only the activity but also the message that accompanies it. The followers of Jesus are to spread themselves abroad upon the earth and proclaim the message that God has raised Jesus, His Son, from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus as a single event, however, has little value in itself. To have value and meaning, it must appear in conjunction with its divine antecedents, that is, the laying down of Jesus’ life on the cross for the making of atonement, the satisfaction of God’s judgment against sin, and the fulfilling of God’s redemptive purpose for mankind.
It was the perfect work of Christ on the Cross that made possible His rising again from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection was the glorious affirmation and the divine authentication that God was fully satisfied with the work of His Son. On the day of Pentecost, Peter declared that “God raised Him up again putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24, NAS). Jesus had to rise again because of (1) the perfection of His life in holy obedience to the Father, (2) the surrender of Himself as a full-payment sacrifice for sin, and (3) the perfection of His victory over Satan and the kingdom of darkness.
The Scriptures are replete in their assertion that only on the Cross did Jesus suffer for our sins. The classic chapter in Isaiah 53 is a dark and awesome portrayal of what happened on the Cross—the grief, the sorrow, the striking, the smiting, the afflicting, the piercing, the crushing, as well as God’s abandonment of His Son. Wave after wave of God’s divine wrath swept over Him as He accepted with no resistance all the punishment and torture that man’s sin and rebellion has accrued through all time. Genesis 3:15 declares that in the midst of the agony, the Serpent’s head would be crushed, as indeed it was. The disarming of “rulers and authorities,” and “making a public display of them . . . “ was done on the Cross (Colossians 2:15).
Beyond the Cross, there was no further conflict or suffering on the part of God’s chosen Lamb. When Jesus cried, “It is finished,” the struggle was over and the victory was assured. All the spiritual beings of the world of light as well as those of the world of darkness knew the issue was settled once and for all. Most of all, Satan knew it was over. His crushed head left him in no disposition to celebrate high carnival with his stunned followers because the Son of God had died. On the contrary, Satan understood all too well the implications of that dying. In total defeat, he retreated deeper still into the shrouds of darkness that inevitably surround him. On the other hand, Christ, the Triumphant Victor, commended His spirit into the loving hands of an adoring Father, and descended into Paradise where the spirits of the righteous dead were retained. For three days, all of this glory, triumph, and victory were hidden from the eyes of mortal man. Even the closest followers of Jesus went into mourning, losing temporarily their faith, but not their love for Jesus.
On the third day God raised Jesus from the dead, an act that was stamped with marvelous majesty and overwhelming power. Paul described it in Ephesians 1:19 as being “. . . in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.” G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “Simply to read this is to feel the irresistible throb of omnipotence.” In raising Jesus from the dead, God rejected every man-made system of salvation and every false culture of cynicism and indifference, as well as every political force of arrogance and assumed authority. He has “seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named . . .” (Ephesians 1:20-21, NAS).
In light of these verities, where are we to go and what are we to tell? For go we must and tell we must. Jesus made it clear in Acts 1:8 that we are to go to all peoples, even to the remotest parts of the earth. There will be no ocean too wide, no mountain too steep, no jungle too dense, no city too big, no desert too dry, no climate too cold or hot, and no circumstance too difficult or unpleasant.
On the day of Pentecost, God forged an army of intrepid soldiers, filled with the fire and power of the Holy Spirit, and set them in motion. They are still on the move.
What are we to tell? In Mark 1:15, it is the Gospel. In Luke 24:47, it is that repentance and the forgiveness of sins, be preached to all nations. In Matthew 28:18-19, it is the making of disciples of all nations. In Acts 4:10, it is the Name of Jesus Who was crucified, but Whom God raised from the dead. In Acts 16:31, it is to believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved. The crucified, resurrected, and ascended Christ is our message, the center of the center. It is He Who brings salvation, deliverance from the power of sin, and the bright hope of living forever in His glorious presence. May His joy and peace also be ours.
[Editor's Note: John Parker was a retired seasoned missionary of the IPHC, as well as a senior statesman of the church at time of his death. He was a world-class traveler and had been to 50 countries, and ministered in 35 countries. He has landed and taken off in 197 airports around the world. He says that God has used him to be a church planter, and he has been blessed to go back years later and see the harvest God has given through other missionaries. He and Edna served in Costa Rica for 23 years. They also served in Chili, Europe and the Middle East, as well as in Hong Kong and Asia as an overseas missionary coordinator and supervisor of missionaries. In addition, John served for four years as the director of Christian Ministries at Southwestern College in Oklahoma City. He taught an adult Sunday school class at Northwood Temple in Fayetteville, NC, for a number of years.
John and Edna, the love of his life, moved from their lovely home in Dunn, NC, to Oklahoma City a few years ago to be near their son, David and his wife, Irvina.
John and Edna are now both together in heaven in the presence of the Lord forever. One day I will see this wonderful couple again. I am grateful for the many friends God has given to Melvine and me through the years. We hope to see many of you at General Conference in Orlando, Florida in July. May the good Lord watch over each of you and keep you from all harm and danger, and grant you peace and joy in the Holy Spirit along with glowing health.]