Studies in First Corinthians – XXVIII
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
Complete and final victory is the promise of every child of God. Reading these last few verses of chapter fifteen is like reading the back of the book. They tell us just how this chapter of life on this earth will end for the Christian.
“Behold I show you a mystery” (15:51). A mystery is not something that cannot be explained, but something that you will never prove by intellect. It is something that you will never reason your way into by winning an argument. You can argue yourself out of a mystery, but never into it.
Here is the mystery Paul speaks of: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (15:51). The dead are “asleep” but notice that we shall not all sleep. There will be a generation which will not die. Rather, as life and time marches on in its predictable manner, a change will come and this generation will not taste of the darkness of death. There is no date given, but it could happen before the sun sets this day.
In the case of those who have died, corruptible flesh will put on incorruption, the body that is laid in the grave will be raised a new body. For those who are alive on that day, mortal shall put on immortality. Corruption cannot inherit incorruption; mortality cannot inherit immortality.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
We can take great comfort, knowing that we will have the final victory. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:55-57).
These words spoken to man’s most feared enemy echo with laughter. Paul stands confronting death and the grave. Death has lost its sting because the penalty of sin is cancelled by the blood of Christ. Therefore, death is no longer an enemy of the Christian, but an instrument of freedom from the reign of sin in his body.
If you are saved by God’s grace, then you know how this life will end. Instead of swallowing you up, death itself will be swallowed up! Instead of casting you into an eternal hell, death itself will go there (Revelation 20:14). The tables were turned at Calvary’s cross. The end is already written.