The End Is Already Written

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.

Fields of Witness

Studies in First Corinthians – XXVII

1 Corinthians 15: 35-38

The purpose for writing this chapter was to address the question we have in verse twelve: “How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Paul has answered this question with overwhelming evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the resulting implications. However, there are still some people who are not satisfied. Paul anticipates their questions:

“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?” (15:35).

From the outside looking in, it is easy for us to look down on the skeptic, but his question is a natural one. We all have witnessed death and decay. We have witnessed the dramatic change that takes place in a body void of life and personality. How ARE the dead raised up?

Paul’s response doesn’t seem very polite, “Thou fool” (15:36). He has no doubt about this question. He gives a simple illustration of a death as an example (15:36-38).

But if the dead are raised up, if a man must, in the flesh, see God, if there is an appointment with Him awaiting every one of us, then our preparation for that day is important. -Redpath

The illustration Paul gives is that of a simple grain of wheat. He invites us to give it a proper burial in the ground. It is dead. But soon you will see, pushing through the black soil, a green shoot rising, full of life. By some amazing miracle, a new plant has come out of the dead grain that you put into the ground.

“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

That is Paul’s answer. The mystery of the resurrection of the body is no greater than that. If you say that because you cannot understand, you will not believe in the resurrection of the body, then logically you have to say that you don’t believe in harvest because you don’t understand the process.

You can only understand the miracle of each if you put God behind them. All the harvest fields of the world are witness to the work of God who takes death, brings it to life, gives it a new body, and produces the harvest. As Paul says, it is no more difficult to believe in the resurrection than it is to believe in the harvest.

If you are looking for hope beyond this life, look to the fields. Observe how He brings life out of death. Notice them, the fields of witness.

In Which Camp Are You Living?

Studies in First Corinthians – XXVI

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

“It’s good to be alive!” This phrase usually expresses the joy of a moment, some fleeting experience. But what does it really mean to be alive in the spiritual and eternal sense of the word? Paul writes of the real significance of life in Christ.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (15:21-22).

Paul points to two camps: in Adam, in Christ. Everyone who has ever lived has chosen to live in one or the other. There is no neutral ground. We are all born into Adam’s camp and most live and die there. However, we can be implanted by the miracle of the second birth into the camp of Christ.

“As in Adam all die.” Adam had been warned that rejection of God’s authority would mean loss of life. But he took the reins in his own hands, defied God’s authority, and promptly died. He didn’t die a physical death at that moment but he died a death much more to be feared. His relationship with God was cut off immediately. The mark of death grew on him in every way.

So begins the story of the tragic breakdown of human life at every level when out of proper relationship with God. Each of us, by the law of heredity, has become involved in this tragedy. As Paul put it, “by the disobedience of one the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:15).

The marks of death are upon each of us today: the stains of sin, of hatred, of all the decaying fruit of the self-life. Unless we move out of the camp in which we were born and into the camp in which we are born again, we will continue in the rebellion, not only in life but in eternity.

“So in Christ shall all be made alive.” Here is the counterattack of heaven. Man, made in the image of God, has chosen the devil as his master and become like him. Now God is made like man in order to rescue him from the rule of Satan. He has come to restore the character of God in man.

It was not necessary. Justice would have been completely satisfied if the entire human race had perished forever. But God is not only just, He is loving! And His love seeks and saves the lost.

The kingdom of death was invaded by a Man who’s life knew no sin. He was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin. So as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, “by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). He has removed the mark of death and set in its place the mark of life.

In which camp are you living?

The Gospel In A Nutshell

Studies in First Corinthians – XXV

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Paul is quickly coming to an end of his first letter to the church at Corinth. He has revealed the emptiness of their supposed knowledge and philosophy. He has preached the message of the cross. He has corrected the errors in their practices and doctrine. He has proclaimed the triumph of love. And now he draws out the foundation upon which he has leaned heavily: the gospel.

“I declare unto you the gospel” (15:1).

Nothing else matters if they have not truly received the gospel. Have their lives been changed by their response to the implications of the dynamic message of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Paul demonstrates to them that the gospel he has preached is based upon certain facts. Furthermore, there is indisputable evidence, so there is no excuse for failing to believe and accept it. Not only is this gospel based upon facts, but it has immense personal implications for every person. The awful possibility grips Paul’s mind as he thinks that the Corinthians may have only believed in vain. This depends, for them and for us, whether our faith has produced a proper response.

What are the facts? “I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (15:3-4). That is the gospel in a nutshell. It is the simple story of a man who lived in the Middle East about two thousand years ago who was crucified outside Jerusalem. He was buried and He rose again. He wasn’t just any man, He was God manifest in flesh. He died for our sin so that we can live.

These simple facts need each other. If you take anything away, you have no gospel. A cross without a resurrection is no gospel. The death of a sinful man does nothing to impact the eternity of mankind. These things: He died, He was buried, He rose again, are the basic elements of the Christian faith. Twelve simple men, most of them fishermen, could never have turned the world upside down unless all of the facts were true.

Have you believed the gospel of Jesus Christ? It will show.

Unless

There are Universal Laws to which all men are subject unless acted upon by another law.  An example is gravity – It is a constant force that is always in place and effects all matter.  Furthermore, you don’t have to believe in the law or even be aware of it for it to work.  Unless another law, like lift, gives you power over it, gravity will constantly be successful in its quest to keep you on the ground.

Photo by 900hp

One such Universal Law is the Law of Sin & Death.  It states that all men are sinners (Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”) and that sin ALWAYS leads to death (Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.”)

And so you can see the predicament of mankind.  WE ARE SINNERS DESERVING OF DEATH! 

That is a law governing all of mankind…UNLESS!  Unless acted on by another law.

Just as all matter is subject to gravity unless acted upon by another force, all mankind is subject to the law of sin and death unless acted on by a permanently opposing law.  

I am here to tell you that there is another law!

Scripture tells us, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”  Romans 8:2

God has another law!  It was put into play from the foundation of the world.  It is the Law of a substitute.  The innocent dying for the guilty.   The just taking the place of the unjust.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by another force.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by another force.

The law of sin and death tells me that I am a sinner and sin leads to death unless!

I am Thankful for the Lamb, Jesus Christ!

“Follow Me” Means Everywhere (An Easter Post)

Jesus did not offer any conditions when He told his disciples to follow him.  He didn’t give them any specifics.  He didn’t tell them where they would be going.  He didn’t say follow me, unless I go somewhere that you don’t want to follow.  He simply said, “Follow Me.”  And that meant Everywhere.

And if I may, let me suggest on this Easter week, that there are three very specific places that we must follow Him; we must follow Him to the cross, we must follow Him to the grave; and then (and only then) we will follow Him in resurrection.

1. The Cross

“Take up your cross and follow me,” is what Jesus said.  There is no following Christ without a cross.  There is no following Christ without repentance.  Many imagine that they are following Jesus but they have not turned from their sin and toward Him.  Paul knew it and understood it.  He said, “I die daily,” and “I am crucified with Christ.”  If we are going to follow Him, following Him to the cross will be one of the first steps that we take.

2. The Grave

Just as Jesus was buried, we also must be buried with Him in Baptism.  Baptism is done by immersion (greek: baptizo) and is in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul had more to say about this in his letter to the Romans, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death…”  If we have followed Jesus to the cross, it is only natural that we will follow Him to the Grave.

3. The Resurrection

Finally, if we have followed Jesus to the cross and to the grave, we are promised that we will follow Him in resurrection.  “…that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:”  When we follow Jesus to the cross in repentance and to the grave in baptism, we are promised that we shall follow Him in resurrection as we are gloriously filled with the Holy Ghost!

What do you say friend?  Have you followed Him Everywhere?  If not, this Easter season would be a great time to fall in behind Jesus and let your heart sing, “where He leads me, I will follow.”