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.

We Are The Church

Over the last few weeks, I have been reading and studying First Corinthians. There is so much wisdom packed into this letter for the Church today. I have especially enjoyed the timeless applications of these scriptures written by Alan Redpath in The Royal Route To Heaven. Over the next few weeks, I am going to be giving some of my thoughts and reactions as I have studied these Scriptures. It is my hope that in reading these posts you will be blessed as I have by the truths contained in God’s Word.

Studies in First Corinthians

Corinth was a proud and wealthy city. It has been called the “Vanity Fair” of the Roman Empire. In fact, the word “Corinthian” had become synonymous with loose living. The Corinthians were famous for their fleshly appetites, their love for arguing, and the pride of their knowledge.

It is here that Paul plants a seed of the Gospel and works to build a church for approximately eighteen months (Acts 18). Even though the church at Corinth had many problems, there is no doubt that Paul considered these people to be the “ekklesia” (called out) of God. As Raymond Woodward points out, “Paul calls them “sanctified” (1:2) in spite of their many problems. They were genuinely saved (1:4), generously endowed with teaching (1:5), securely established by preaching (1:6), spiritually gifted (1:7), and prophetically alert (1:7-8). Yet they were carnal, and were at risk of forfeiting it all!”

Paul deals with this carnality in the first eleven chapters. He exposes the tragedy of their living in sin and worldliness, and applies the positive remedy of the cross of Jesus Christ. For carnality, Paul prescribes the full message of the Gospel of Christ.

There are many today who do not follow Paul’s example here. We must preach and practice the gospel of forgiveness of sins but it must be accompanied by the gospel of deliverance from sin. We must move beyond pardon to purity!

Rather than lashing out at the Corinthians, Paul begins by lifting them up and reminding them of the glory of their salvation and of the great privileges that are theirs in Christ. He reminds them that they are “the church” (1:2), the “called ones”. They have nothing to be ashamed of. They were to live godly in the midst of an ungodly people. He called them “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1:2). This is what they were in the sight of God, and not them only, but every member of His Church. We are God’s separated, called-out ones to a position of authority; a position in which we know what we believe, live it, and proclaim it.

In verse three, Paul begins to list a few of the things that God has given us for the journey; “Grace and peace” (1:3). There is grace to make me like the Master, grace to give me triumph when I would fail, grace to enable me to glorify God in every situation. His peace brings perfect harmony. It brings balance and unity to every part of my life.

Not only has He given us grace and peace, but we are “enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge” (1:5). We have a message to proclaim! God has given us His Gospel to preach, His Word to live by, and His life to live out.

Finally, in verse nine, Paul completes the list of the Christian’s great privileges: “you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1:9). The Greek word for “fellowship” here is koinonia, which means having everything in common. This is your victory over flesh and carnality, all He has belongs to you! His victory is at your disposal now. All He asks is that all you have be at His disposal in return.

Let us not forget who we are. We are the Church!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Led To The Land Of Trouble

Let me ask you, when was the last time you read Joshua 7?  This chapter is loaded with important lessons needed to win the war against sin and evil in our world.  Joshua and the Israelites are fresh off of an amazing victory over the seemingly impenetrable Jericho.  Led by the hand of the Lord, the people had fought by unconventional methods to gain an unlikely victory.  However, crushing defeat lurked in the shadows of this unlikely victory.

This is where we find ourselves in Joshua 7.  Up until this point, every move the Israelites had made had been directed by God.  This time, we don’t have any record of God giving the marching orders.  Israel’s warriors were drunk on the high of victory and as a result had misplaced their confidence, relying on their own might rather the  Almighty.

On top of this, there had been a direct act of disobedience against the orders of God which had been given to the people through Joshua.  Achan had decided to keep some of the valuables that he had found in the battle of Jericho.  This disobedience is the reason given for Israel’s defeat in a battle that they should have easily won.  As a result, Achan and all his household were stoned and burned.  The place was called the Valley of Achor.  Achor means trouble.  Disobedience will always lead you to the valley of trouble.

A few lessons we can learn from Joshua 7.

1. Our greatest defeats can come on the wings of our greatest victories. 

2. We must not misplace our confidence.  Anything we do, we do through Him.

3. We will win battles that we shouldn’t be able to win through obedience and we will lose battles that we shouldn’t lose through disobedience.

Take Note.  Don’t allow yourself to be led to the land of trouble.