The Mystery of Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)

The Mystery of Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)


What in the world makes us so embarrassed
about the Gospel? “For I determined to know nothing among you
except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). We come now to the final section of 1 Corinthians
15. We have been going through this great resurrection
chapter. You’re a wonderful congregation to preach
to, you love the truth, you embrace the truth with a full heart and you express so often,
as many of you have to me, your joy over what we’ve learned in this chapter. It’s been so encouraging to me. Not everybody is interested in what happens
after we die. Most people today, even in churches, seem
to be a lot more interested in what goes on here. But for some of us, what happens after death
is the most important. My friend Daniel Henderson said the other
day, “Isn’t it odd in our prayers that we spend most of time praying to keep people
out of heaven who are headed there, than we do praying lost people into heaven who aren’t
headed there?” I think we sometimes lose sight of the glories
of heaven, even as we pray for saints, resisting in some ways the best that God has for them,
entrance into His presence. Now what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 is
that when we end up in heaven, finally we will not be disembodied spirits, but we will
be resurrected human beings. The skeptics, of course, as we have pointed
out, viewed physical resurrection as something of a joke. The idea that the body could rise from the
dead seemed ridiculous to them. That view, that non-resurrection view had
permeated the Corinthian church because it was a part of the philosophy of that place
and that time. And some of the believers were having trouble
believing in a resurrection. They weren’t having trouble believing in salvation. They weren’t having trouble believing that
their spirits would go to heaven, but they were having trouble with the physical, bodily
resurrection. So the Apostle Paul writes this monumental
chapter to affirm the reality of resurrection. He has presented the evidence of a physical
resurrection and the primary proof of the physical resurrection to the saints is the
physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And that’s how he began the chapter. The evidence for a bodily resurrection is
in the resurrection of Christ. He is a prototype. Then he talked about the importance of resurrection
by looking at what happens if there is no resurrection. Christ didn’t rise, we don’t rise, the gospel
is useless, preaching is empty, and so forth. Then he talked about the sequence of resurrection. Who comes first? Christ and then the rest follow. And he talked about the value of resurrection. It takes us in to the form which God originally
designed that we would be in fully perfected human beings to express His glory. Then last time, down through verse 49, Paul
described the body of resurrection. Gave us some analogies and described a way
for us to understand the body of a resurrected believer. Now having gone through all of that, he comes
to verse 50 and he sweeps us into what is really a very, very elevated conclusion. It is really a thrilling sort of lyrical praise
for the great reality. In fact, I think verses 50 to 57 and then
the final verse added to that, but I think this whole passage must have almost carried
the Apostle Paul away. This is pure praise. It is a kind of celestial symphony and we’re
going to see that as we look at it. Let me read verses 50 to 58. “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and
blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep but we will all be changed,
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound
and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable
and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on
the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the
saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O, death, where is your victory? O, death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of
sin is the Law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in
vain in the Lord.'” This is elevated language, glorious language,
and at the same time, highly instructive. Paul’s praise follows four lines…a great
transformation, a great triumph, a great thanksgiving, and then a great therefore. Let’s begin with the great transformation. Verse 50 really sets off the whole passage. “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and
blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” This is a very important transitional statement. Paul has been discussing the fact that God
will design special bodies for eternal living. They won’t be earthly. They won’t be like the body we have inherited
from a fallen Adam and Eve. They will be like Christ’s resurrection body. Look at verse 49. “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy,”
that is we are made in the likeness of fallen man, “we will bear also the image of the heavenly.” “We will have a body like unto His glorious
body,” it says in Philippians. In other words, Paul is telling us in this
opening statement about the great transformation. We need special equipment for eternal life. This body will not do. “Flesh and blood” is the phrase. It refers to our bodies as currently designed
for life on this planet. Our bodies are wonderfully, fearfully made,
as the Psalmist said, and they are suited for this life. Hebrews 2:14 says, “The children share in
flesh and blood.” Simply a way to describe the physical body. Flesh sometimes is used in a moral sense in
Scripture, but whenever it’s connected with blood, it’s simply referring to a physical
body. We cannot enter the heavenly realm in the
bodies that we currently have. We must be changed. And that goes back to what I just mentioned
to you, Philippians chapter 3, “Our citizenship is in heaven, we wait for a Savior, the Lord
Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state, in to conformity with
the body of His glory.” We’ll go from being earthy to being heavenly. We must be transformed. Heaven calls for that. In fact, flesh and blood cannot inherit the
Kingdom of God. Some times the Kingdom of God refers to the
salvation realm over which Jesus rules in the hearts of all those who put their trust
in Him. It is that Kingdom that He emphasized in His
preaching, “Enter into the Kingdom,” was similar to being saved. Some times the Kingdom of God refers to the
universal rule of God in the universe as He oversees and has authority over everything
in the created world, both material and spiritual. Sometimes the Kingdom of God refers to the
future thousand-year millennial reign. Sometimes the Kingdom of God is a term refers
to eternal heaven, the eternal new heaven and new earth, the final state. And that’s what we have here. You can’t enter in to the final form of the
future reign of God after Christ has collected all who belong to Him…we saw that back in
verse 24…and then He has taken the Kingdom and handed it over to God, the God and Father,
having abolished all other rule and all authority and power. That is the eternal state, when all the redeemed
of all periods of time, both time as we know it now, the future time of the Tribulation,
the future time of the Millennial Kingdom, all those times are over. The new heaven and the new earth is created. All the redeemed are gathered in heaven, all
of Christ’s are there and He then takes them all and gives them to the Father. That’s what we have here…the future reign
of God after Christ has handed over to Him the Kingdom. So we look at this then as the eternal state. We must go back to verse 42 because there
we see the same emphasis of a transformation. The resurrection of the dead is coming, it
is sown, that is our bodies, a perishable body, raised an imperishable, sown in dishonor,
raised in glory, sown in weakness, raised in power, sown natural, raised spiritual. This is simply laying out for us the fact
that we must be changed, a tremendous transformation is required. Death is the planting of the seed. We saw the analogy of the seed. And that seed dying, as it were, bursts forth
in new life and takes new form. There are great similarities because our body
will be conformed to the body of Christ’s glory and we know all about His body cause
He walked and talked on earth after His resurrection for forty days with His followers. And there are many descriptions of their interaction
and of His glorified body. Paul has detailed in our last study the characteristics
of this new body, imperishable, glorious, powerful and spiritual. Now it raises a question and the question
is, what about the Christians that are living when Christ comes? And that question falls on the minds of the
readers in Corinth and Paul assumes it and he assumes it of readers in the future, so
he answers it here in the text before us. What happens if you don’t die? What happens if you’re alive when Christ comes? They believed in the return of Christ. He had said that He would return, Acts 1:11. The angel said the same Jesus that you have
seen go into heaven shall so come in like manner as you’ve seen Him go. Himself, our Lord delineated His Second Coming,
described it in the Great Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 and 25 in particular. So the early believers knew that the Lord
was coming. First Corinthians, probably written around
the year 55 maybe, it’s just a few years since the Lord has died. And this doctrine of His return is well settled
in the life of the church. And so, the question comes then, what if you’re
not dead and the Lord comes, then what happens? Then what happens? Will there be…will these people miss the
transformation? What about those living at the resurrection? Let’s look at verse 51, he answers that question. “Behold, I tell you a mystery,” which is another
way of saying, I have new information…I have new information. Mystery doesn’t mean what we think when we
say mystery. Musterion doesn’t mean something that is virtually
unsolvable. Mystery in the New Testament refers to something
that has been previously hidden, okay? Has been previously hidden. But when the writer says, “I will show you
a mystery, it means that which has previously been hidden will not be revealed. This is something that in the Old Testament,
for example, no one knew. It wasn’t made known to them. It was hidden from them. Now there is a sense in which we have to understand
that God doesn’t tell us everything all the time. Let me give you a little way to think about
that. There are some things God doesn’t tell anybody,
ever. You understand that, right? Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong
to the Lord.” There are some things He hasn’t told anybody. And maybe we’ll find it out when we get to
heaven. There are some things He reveals to everybody. What would that be? Well, Romans 1, “That which may be known of
God is in them,” that is the path to God, to the recognition that there is a God, and
to recognize His eternal power and Godhead, is built into the very rational faculties
of every human being. “That which may be known of God is in them
so that they’re without excuse.” If they don’t go back to God, because reason
will take you there. Every reasoning human being finally has to
end up with the fact that there’s God because all reasoning is based on a cause and effect
continuum. That’s what thinking is. This produces this, and this produces this,
and this produces this. And if you follow it back, you’re going to
end up with a need for a primary cause. That’s why the theory of evolution is such
a devastating attack on human reason, to say nobody times nothing equals everything is
idiotic. It’s insane. So there are some things that God has revealed
to everybody, and one of them is the knowledge that He exists and that He is God and that
He is powerful. And also, Romans 2 says that the Law of God
is written in the heart of every man and there is an accommodating conscience that works
off of that law to excuse or accuse him. So to everyone, God has revealed something. The fact of His existence and His power and
the fact of His law. And there are some things that He has never
revealed to anybody. Now there are some things that God reveals
only to His people…only to His people. Psalm 25:14, “The secret of the Lord is with
those who fear Him….the secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him,” or Proverbs 3:32,
“The secret of the Lord is with the righteous.” There are things that we who are believers
know that no one else can understand. “The natural man cannot understand them, they
are foolishness to him, they are spiritually discerned and he’s spiritually dead.” Jesus in John 8 said, “Because I speak the
truth, you don’t believe Me.” So there are things that He doesn’t reveal
to anybody. There are things that He reveals to everyone. There are certain things that He reveals only
to His own people. And then, fourthly, there are secrets that
He has hidden from everyone for a period of time, including His own people, and finally
revealed in the New Testament. Paul himself identifies the fact that he is
a preacher of the mysteries. But Paul isn’t the one that introduced that. Jesus is. Back in Matthew 13 when our Lord was telling
the parables to the disciples, He was essentially revealing mysteries to them. Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted…verse
11…to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven. But to them, it has not been granted,” to
the non-believers, it has not been granted. It is granted to you and you alone. And so He spoke to the crowd in parables which
were riddles they couldn’t understand. Now we come to the category of those things
which God has hidden in the past from everybody, but in the New Testament has revealed to His
church…to His people. Now if you just go to your concordance, look
up the word mystery, go everywhere in the New Testament where the word mystery goes
and you’ll uncover what those mysteries are. There is the mystery of iniquity. There is the mystery of the church being Jew
and Gentile, together as one. There is the mystery of the indwelling Christ,
Christ in you…that’s another mystery. What that means is it has never been revealed
until the New Testament. Well one of those mysteries is here revealed,
and it has to do with the question that is on the mind of the reader, what about the
people who don’t die? What happens to them if they don’t get sown
in the ground, decompose and come forth in a new form? What about the people that don’t die? Not all Christians will die. What happens to them? Verse 51, let me give you a mystery. Nobody’s ever heard this until the New Testament,
we will not all die, that’s what sleep means, we will not all sleep, but we will all be
changed. There’s the answer to the question. Sometimes when the questions aren’t asked,
you can back up to the question once you hear the answer, and that’s one of those cases
in this text. It is absolutely necessary that we all be
changed. Why? Because the perishable, back to verse 50,
must put on an imperishable form. You can’t take what you’ve got to heaven,
and basically aren’t you glad…aren’t you glad? Can you imagine dealing with what you are
eternally? We will not all sleep. That is to say the Lord will come and the
resurrection will happen at a time when some people are still alive. But we will all be changed. We have to be changed. And by the way, it is not a process…it is
not a process. How do you know that? Verse 52, “In a moment, in the twinkling of
an eye, we’re all going to be changed in a moment.” That’s an interesting word in the Greek, atomos
, from which we get the word atom. The word atomos means that which can’t be
divided, that which can’t be cut is atomos . Therefore it is the smallest. In the Greek understanding, you can’t get
anything smaller than that which cannot be divided. So it indicates the shortest possible time. It can’t be divided down. It’s not an hour and it’s not a minute and
it’s not a second, and it’s not a nanosecond, it’s the smallest possible undividable unit
of time. It’s going to happen that fast. And the analogy is in the twinkling of an
eye. That’s not a blink, that’s not a blink, that’s
different. This is twinkling. That’s a flash of light, the sudden flash
of light on the eye. One writer suggests it would be like a sixth
of a nanosecond, the time that it takes for light entering the iris to reach the retina. A micro-second is one millionth of a second. A nanosecond is one thousandth of a micro-second. And the twinkling is one sixth of a nanosecond. That is fast. That is fast. That’s it, folks, that fast. That’s what will happen that fast. And all that language there is intended for
you to understand this is not some kind of transformation that takes time. Now when does it happen? Well it happens at the last trumpet, at the
last trumpet. There is a passage in 1 Thessalonians chapter
4 verse 16 that describes the same event, the Rapture, and you have a trumpet there,
and we’ll look at that. This is the trumpet that will be sounded at
the Rapture. In the Old Testament and certainly throughout
Jewish history, even in times of the New Testament, trumpets are associated with the events of
end times. Trumpets were associated in Israel’s history
with battles and festivities and triumphs, but they were also associated with the events
of the end times. This is the signal for the dead to rise. This is the time when they will be called
out of the graves and called up to God. And the transformation will take place in…if
our scientific explanation is accurate…a sixth of a nanosecond. Back in the nineteenth chapter of Exodus God
appeared, thunder, lightning flashes, thick cloud on the mountain, Mount Sinai, and a
very loud trumpet sound so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp
to meet God. This will be like that, only not frightening. This is a summons trumpet in Exodus 19…Come
and meet God. And it is a summoning trumpet here, as well…Come
in your glorified body and meet God. When that happens in the moment at the last
trump, the trump will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed. We’ll be changed. That’s the transformation. That is a glorious thing to think about. It has to be. Why? Verse 53, “For this perishable must put on
the imperishable. And this mortal must put on immortality.” “Put on” is a normal word, by the way, for
getting dressed. You need a new body to clothe your spiritual
being. In the life to come, you’ve got to shed this
one and put on a new one. So Paul says, “This is something that no one
has ever known until the New Testament. Is this the first time it was ever mentioned
in the New Testament? No…no. Go back to John 14…John 14, upper room,
Last Supper with the disciples. Here is the first time this event is mentioned. “Do not let your heart be troubled,” the disciples
had troubled hearts because Jesus was going to be taken from them in death. “Don’t let your heart be troubled, believe
in God, believe also in Me, in My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I
will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am, there you may be also.” This doesn’t explain it about the transformation. But what it does explain is that there is
being a place prepared for us in the heaven of heavens to dwell. I will prepare a place for you. I will…literally the word means to ready,
or to furnish, rather than to build. That’s why we say in the Old King James, the
idea was, “I go to prepare a place for you,” and people thought, “Well, that’s got to be
my house and I’m going to be on Holy Spirit Street, number 8 down the road and to the
right, or something. No. I’m going to furnish a place. The Lord is not building us a mansion. But He’s furnishing a room in the Father’s
house, getting it ready for our arrival. And He will not send for us, by the way, He
will come for us. “I will come again and receive you to Myself.” The reason we associate this passage with
the Rapture is because there’s no judgment here. Christ does come in judgment on the ungodly,
destructive judgment, devastating judgment on the ungodly. But there’s no such reference here. This is when He comes to gather His own and
take them to the rooms that He has furnished for them in the Father’s house. This is a passage that gives hope and comfort
and joy. And then there is another reference to this
event, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4……1 Thessalonians chapter 4. First Thessalonians would have been written
probably three or four years before 1 Corinthians. First Thessalonians 4 and there’s kind of
an opposite issue here to the one in 1 Corinthians 15. The believers in Thessalonica are asking about
the Christians that have died. They were already aware of the Rapture and
they were wondering if the dead Christians were going to miss the Rapture. The Corinthians, I guess were wondering if
the people who are alive are going to miss the resurrection, the glory of the resurrection. And here the Thessalonians are wondering if
the people who are dead are going to miss the Rapture. And so he answers them, verse 15, “This we
say to you,” 1 Thessalonians 4:15, “by the Word of the Lord that we who are alive and
remain until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have fallen asleep, for
the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel
and with the trumpet of God…there’s that same trump we saw in 15…and the dead in
Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught
up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we always
be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” Again, there’s no judgment here, this is not
a judgment event. This is not the return of Christ in judgment,
neither was John 14, neither is 1 Corinthians 15, this is an event that is all about comfort,
all about encouragement, don’t let your heart be troubled. I’m preparing a room for you. I’m coming to get you. And the trumpet will be blown and the archangel
will shout. The word, by the way, “shout,” is for a military
command. And perhaps He’ll be saying, “Come out.” A one-word command, a shout from an archangel,
a blast from the trumpet of God and God Himself comes down in the form of Christ to gather
His people. Now you can go back to our text. This is the third passage in the New Testament
that unfolds this mystery which has been hidden in the past. Here is then the sacred secret. A whole generation of believers will, in fact,
be alive at the time that Christ comes to raise the dead saints. They will be alive in their natural bodies
at the time of the resurrection. But they will be transformed. That’s 1 Thessalonians. “They who are alive and remain will be caught
up in the air to meet the Lord.” They will experience an instantaneous transformation
by which they will in that same sixth of a nanosecond receive their glorious resurrection
bodies without ever dying. That’s why we all say, “We want to be alive
at the Rapture.” Right? As one man said, “I really don’t fear death,
I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” And we have normal attitudes toward dying. We all understand that. We would all like to go in the Rapture together,
right? In that moment, in that flash of light, and
for some that’s exactly what will happen. And you say, “Well do you think that’s far
away?” It’s nearer than it’s ever been,” is that
fair? Nearer than It’s ever been. Can’t be too far away. And so, whether you’re dead or alive, there
will be a great transformation. We will not all sleep. That is, we’ll not all die. But we will all be changed. The end of verse 52 says it again. “We will be changed.” Verse 53 says, “We must be changed because
you cannot live in an imperishable world in a perishable body.” Wonderful, incredible, staggering promise,
to be able to have a glorified body like the body of Christ who came out of the grave and
traverse the infinite new heaven and new earth in a life that the Lord designs for us. Some people think, “Well, I don’t know if
I want to be there forever. That’s a long time.” I’ll give you an illustration. God is perfectly satisfied with Himself. True? God is joy personified. God is satisfaction personified. God is contentment personified. And God is eternal. And we’ll possess all those attributes. So, from the great transformation to the great
triumph. Verse 54, and here Paul cuts loose a little
bit with his phrase, “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this
mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written,
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.'” He borrowed that, of course, from Isaiah 25. This is the great triumph. This is the day we wait for. Right now death is our enemy. Death is certainly our enemy in every sense
and reasonably we fear it. One writer said, “There is a preacher of the
old school, but he speaks as boldly as ever. He’s not popular, though the world is his
parish and he travels every part of the globe and speaks in every language. This preacher visits the poor, calls on the
rich, preaches to people of every religion and no religion. And the subject of this preacher’s sermons
is always the same, he is an eloquent preacher, often stirring feelings which no other preacher
could, and bringing tears to eyes that never weep. His arguments, none are able to refute, nor
is there any heart that has remained unmoved by the force of his appeals. He shatters life with his message. Most people hate him. Everybody fears him. This preacher’s name is death. Every tombstone is his pulpit, every newspaper
prints his text, and every day more people are part of his message. The inevitability of death. It’s an enemy. We fear it. We hide from it. We evade it. We try to avoid it. We mask it. Because it devastates us. It breaks long loving unions. It leaves unfinished symphonies. It removes people who are greatly needed. It wrecks our tranquility. It is our enemy and there’s no getting around
it. But, when this perishable will put on the
imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, we’ll all appreciate the words
of the prophet that death is swallowed up in victory. When and then and with that he looks forward
to the time of this great resurrection event. When the change has been made. When the transformation has taken place. When the resurrection has occurred. Death will be completely conquered. That is why in heaven there is no death. The complete destruction of death will be
accomplished for the church at the resurrection and the Rapture. Now after the resurrection and the Rapture
of the church, there will be a Tribulation and there will be death there. There will be a millennial kingdom of a thousand
years and there will be death there. At the end of that millennial kingdom, all
the rebels will be destroyed and death itself will be abolished with the uncreation of the
universe and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. But for us, for the church, for those who
are part of the mystery, death will be swallowed up forever when we are resurrected or raptured. Swallowing is very strong verb. Death is swallowed up, it speaks of drastic
and complete destruction. It is not merely harmed, it is not really
leveled, it is not simply destroyed, it is consumed in an absolute and total victory. The incredible wonder of this triumph gives
rise to a taunt in verse 55. This is taunting. “O death, where is your victory? O, death, where is your sting?” Death is addressed in the figure of an animal
or an insect armed with a poisonous sting which kills. The word sting is kentron , it refers primarily
to bees and snakes. Death’s sting is gone. The blow against death was struck by Christ
at Calvary and there will come a time when that is actualized. It was promised by the work of Christ, it
will be a reality in the future. For the church, at the Rapture, for the saints
of the Tribulation when they die, death will be destroyed. For the saints who live through the millennial
kingdom, at the end of that when they die, death’s final destruction takes place. But the language here for the church tells
us that at the Rapture and the resurrection, death will be completely obliterated. And so, death can be taunted fearlessly. Where’s your victory? Where’s your sting? Then in verse 56, he interprets verse 55. “The sting of death is sin and the power of
sin is the law.” It is not death itself that harms. Death has no power. What makes death powerful is sin. Sin is death’s stinger. It’s not death itself. Death has no power unless there is…here’s
the key…unforgiven sin. Death has no real power unless there’s unforgiven
sin. Then death is really deadly cause if there’s
unforgiven sin in your life, cause you haven’t come to Christ and had all your sins forgiven,
then death is eternally deadly. But death has no sting for the Christian. Where’s your sting? We taunt death. Because your only weapon against us is sin
and there’s no sin. Why? Cause it’s all been paid for, covered, forgiven
and removed. So there’s no sting in death for the Christian. That’s why the Old Testament says, “Precious
in the sight of the Lord is the death of His holy ones.” It’s a precious event when a believer dies. The sting of death is sin. And the power of sin is the law. This takes us back to Romans 5 and 7. The law of God is the standard that reveals
we are sinners. Sin is defined by the law. The law sets the mark that sin misses. The smallest sin unforgiven has the power
to kill the soul eternally. So unless your sins are forgiven in Christ,
death when it hits you will sting you with its eternal kill power. If you know Christ, sin is not an issue, death
has no sting. In fact, death is like a welcomed friend. This leads from the great transformation and
the great triumph to the great thanksgiving. Verse 57, “But thanks be to God who gives
us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” How? Because Christ satisfied every breech of the
law. Christ paid the penalty for every law ever
broken. He paid the price the law demanded. “The wages of sin is death,” He died to pay
the wages. All sin having been dealt with, death has
no more sting. And death is a friend. Paul says, “Far better to depart and be with
Christ.” He had no fear of death. And here he relishes the moment when this
perishable will put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality. So death for the believer because sin is paid
for and covered, death is disarmed, defanged. And we can taunt it. Where’s your victory? Where’s your sting? Glorious truth. The passage ends in verse 58 with, what I
like to call the great therefore, “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the
Lord. Therefore, because our resurrection is fixed,”
this is the big conclusion, “because we will rise, it is guaranteed, the law will not condemn
us, Christ fulfilled the law for us. Sin will not destroy us. God holds no sins against us, they were all
placed on Christ in His death. You will rise, your resurrection is a reality,
my beloved brethren.” A flood of affection comes out in that phrase,
doesn’t it? The theology of the resurrection then becomes
a challenge. The speculations about resurrection become
very practical and the sweeping of the mind over these massive truths comes down to our
feet and immediate action. Life may be difficult. Being a Christian may be challenging. Preaching the gospel may come with its persecution. But hang in there. Be steadfast. That means, stand true, stand true, immovable. Don’t deviate from the gospel, from what you
know to be true. Literally that word “steadfast” means to be
fixed firmly, solidly, settled. It’s a reference to our conviction, to the
content of our doctrine, what we believe, firm up your conviction about the future resurrection. The Corinthians, remember now, were vacillating
on it, the immovable..immovable. An interesting word from the verb kinain , means
to set in motion. And it’s the background of the word cinema
from the German kinos, which is what they call their motion pictures. Don’t move, don’t be in motion, don’t deviate. Be firm and fixed in your doctrine. It reminds me of Ephesians 4:14, “Be no more
children tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine.” Solid, personal conviction about the resurrection
and everything associated with it. Stand firm. Two, work hard, always abounding in the work
of the Lord cause you know you’re toil is not in vain in the Lord. Stand firm doctrinally, work hard in ministry,
always abounding, perisseuo , overdoing it, overdoing it, overdoing it. This is a good word for all of us who work
and pray and give and witness and live and sometimes suffer. Just keep doing it. If no resurrection, there will be no reason
to do this. But since there is a resurrection, don’t let
anybody take away your conviction about that and work hard because when that great day
comes, you will receive a reward. Your labor is not in vain, it is not for nothing,
it is not for nothing. When the Lord comes, He is going to reward
His people. The New Testament talks about all kinds of
crowns, all kinds of rewards, all kinds of blessings, that the Lord is going to give
us. But listen to Revelation 22:12, just sum it
up, “Behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me to render to every man according
to what he has done.” Hold your ground, your conviction on the resurrection,
work hard, there’s a day of reward coming. Let’s pray. This is all of grace, we understand that,
Lord, we certainly know that. We don’t deserve to be saved. We don’t deserve to be transformed. We don’t deserve to be eternally rewarded
for the humble service that we render. This is all of grace. What a gracious, loving God You are. How marvelous is it that we can taunt death
because it has no sting. It planted its sting in Christ and He bore
the full punishment and conquered death. It has no possibility of victory over us because
all the demands of the law were met by Christ. And so we long for that glorious experience,
maybe even that rapture event. But in any case, whether it’s dead or alive,
when resurrection day comes, we’re thrilled with Your kindness in the promise of our own
resurrection and the glory that You’ve prepared for us. This is only the beginning, we haven’t even
begun to imagine what You have prepared for us. May we be steadfast and immovable in our convictions
about our glorious future and work hard, labor to the point of exhaustion, if need be, knowing
that there’s coming a future reward which You will give, as Paul said, to all who love
Your appearing, Your presence. We’re grateful for the promises that we hold
to. All of this we know is because of Christ and
we give Him all the praise. Amen.

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