|Home Page||Grace Baptist Church
Save file: MP3 - WMA - View related sermons Click here
TEXT: I Corinthians 15:50-58
SUBJECT: New Flesh and Blood
I Corinthians 15 is about the Resurrection of the Body. This was central to Paul's preaching, and at one time, all the saints in Corinth believed in it. Now, they didn't like being laughed at any more than we do, but that's what their Pagan neighbors did when the heard the word, 'Resurrection': They laughed. To their way of thinking dead bodies coming back to life was impossible, unnecessary, and revolting.
It was impossible and revolting because dead bodies decay over time and finally dissolve. Our bodies are made of dust and to dust they return. How do you glue dust particles back together? And if you could do it, what would you have? At best, you'd have a statue made of dirt, and who wants that?
On top of these common sense objections, there was a religious reason to laugh at the Resurrection. The body--the Pagan said--is a prison of the soul, and Salvation is an escape from the material world into a world of pure spirit. If the body is raised, therefore, there is no salvation; we're trapped forever.
This is what the Corinthian man-on-the-street believed, and his beliefs had seeped into the church--and maybe more than 'seeped' in. If the Christians weren't fully committed to the heresy, they were very much leaning that way. If Paul doesn't push them back up, they're going to tip over and be broken for good. This is what he's doing in the chapter; he's propping them up, pushing them back to an upright position. He's been doing that from v.1, and he finishes the job in the last paragraph, vv. 50-58.
He starts with a concession. When it comes to 'rising from the dead', the Corinthians are mostly wrong: but on one point, they're right, v.50--
Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
This seems to unsay all he's been saying for forty nine verses! Time and again, Paul has emphasized the physicality of the Resurrection, that God will save the body no less than the soul; that Jesus' body rose from the dead, and not just His spirit. Now, he seems to be saying the opposite. Whatever else flesh and blood might mean, it's got to include 'the body'.
Will your arms and legs, eyes and ears, ribs and buttocks be saved? Thus far, Paul's said, 'yes they will be'. But now, he seems to say, 'no'. Has he lost his train of thought? He hasn't.
What he's saying here is our bodies as they are now cannot live in Heaven. They're not fit for an Undying World because they're always dying--even young, healthy, and vigorous bodies are. They're--
corruptible and mortal.
This is true of everyone who has ever lived, including Adam before the Fall and though I tremble to say it, even our Lord Jesus Christ.
Adam was put into a world without sin or death. Had he remained true to the Lord, he would have inherited the earth, but the 'earth' he would have inherited wouldn't have been the good earth God created in the beginning; but a New and Improved Earth, what the writer of Hebrews calls--
The world to come.
For lack of a better word, Adam would have inherited Heaven. But only after he was fitted for it by a life of obedience and loyalty to God. Not even his unfallen flesh and blood could inherit the Kingdom of God.
The same is true of our Lord. His Divine Nature, of course, is eternally in for Heaven. But His human nature had to be tested and tried--and Resurrected--before the Son of Man obtained His place at God's Right Hand!
This informs us of how overpowering the glory of Heaven must be when even sinless eyes have to be changed to see God!
It tells us how magnificent the Resurrection must be, and how deep the love of God behind it, when your eyes and mine--the eyes that have looked on so many evil things--will see Him face to face!
Despite what you hear at Christian funerals, the believer's hope is not 'going to Heaven when he dies'. It is the Resurrection of the Body.
When will this occur and how?
The 'when' is crystal clear. Our bodies will be raised from the dead when Jesus comes again. Paul describes His Second Coming as the arrival of a king. Kings didn't just show up; they came with great fanfare, with a retinue of servants and the blowing of trumpets. Paul refers to the trumpets here, and in other places, He's seen as a Warrior King riding a white horse to victory and leading a huge army to save His servants and destroy His enemies.
Paul leaves the Warrior motif out here, though, because he's not thinking of Jesus as the Judge of His enemies, but of Jesus as the Savior of His People.
The trumpets summon the People to their King, and they blow with such volume that all His servants hear them and respond. Including the servants who have already died!
No one comes to the King's rally wearing cut-offs and tank shirts! This is a Royal Visit and formal attire is expected. The problem is: we don't have the clothes for that kind of affair, but that's all right, because the King does, v.53--
For this corruptible must put on incorruption
and this mortal must put on immortality.
This is the language of dressing, or rather, of dressing up. As we are now, we are mortal and corruptible--and no tuxedo or evening gown can hide the fact. But mortality and corruptibility won't do for the King's Presence. So, He takes the rags of decay and death off of us and drapes us with incorruption and immortality!
When that occurs, death itself dies. Just as death has swallowed up billions of people over the years, at the Second Coming of Christ, death is swallowed up.
From the Fall of Adam till now, death has been the predator and man has been its prey. But Jesus turns it around: He is the predator and death is prey to Him.
Old Testament saints believed that God was sovereign over death, and the prophets celebrated His Lordship. But it must have been mighty hard to hold on to their belief in light of the undeniable fact that death claims everybody--man, woman, child, king, slave, Jew, Gentile, death is no respecter of persons. Isaiah and Hosea believed the dead would rise, but they never saw it! They couldn't see it because it didn't happen in their time. It has happened in ours!
Jesus has risen from the dead Himself, and united to Him through faith, His resurrection guarantees our own!
Maybe you were the bully at school, but I wasn't: I was the bullied. I didn't like what the bullies did to me, but I didn't do anything about it, not to their faces, I mean. From the death of Abel to this day, Death has been the biggest and the meanest and the scariest bully in the world. Nobody likes him, but nobody's got to guts to make fun of him either, not yet, we don't. But when Jesus comes again, the biggest chicken in this room will join the taunting choir--
O death, where is your sting?
O grave, where is your victory?
SIN, LAW, AND DEATH
How does Jesus destroy death? Up to now, you might think He does it with brute force, a stronger King beating a weaker king. He is stronger than Death, but Paul doesn't leave it there.
He reminds us where Death came from. Human death is the result of sin. Adam and Eve were not made to die. Death was a penalty for sin, and because all are sinful, all die.
By defining and forbidding and threatening sin, the Law might have put an end to it. But it didn't do that; in fact, it did the opposite: it stirred us up to sin even more and to sin on purpose and without remorse.
Death is sin's shadow. As long as you have one, you will have the other. But what if God found a way to get rid of sin? What if He Himself became a sinless Man able and willing to bear the sins of the world in His own body? Sin would be gone and so would death. This is what God did! In Jesus Christ, He joined the human race, on the cross, He took the guilt and punishment our sins deserve, and then He rose from the dead claiming victory for Himself.
And for us.
The Gospel is not what we do for Christ, but what Christ has done for us. Still, though we cannot repay Him and He doesn't ask us to, a response is required of us. What do we do in light of Christ's Resurrection in the past and our own in the future?
We thank God--
But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
If there is a character flaw worse than ingratitude, I don't know what it is. We ought to be grateful for every favor, big or small. And what favor could be bigger than the victory over death? There's more to thankfulness than saying, Thank you, Lord'. But not less! Let us be ever thanking the Lord for all He has done for us--
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and bless His holy Name,
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.
Blessed be the Lord who daily loads us with all benefits,even the God of our salvation.
O that men would thank the Lord for His goodness,
and for the all His wonderful works to the sons of men!
The last verse begins with therefore, and as the old preacher once told me, 'Whenever you see a therefore, see what it's there for'. In arguing for the Resurrection of the Body, Paul has two goals in mind. He wants to confirm us in (1) true doctrine, and encourage us in (2) good living.
Believing in the Resurrection of the Body will make you a better person. before the Resurrection of the Body. Why? Because it gives you incentive to do your best. Because there is a Resurrection, your work for the Lord matters and it will last. As will your reward.
If what you do for Christ matters, do more for Christ and do it better! Witness to the lost; visit the shut-in; be kind to your lesbian neighbor; have dinner with the Muslim at work. As the song says--
Every work for Jesus will be blessed.
And not just blessed in time, but also in eternity.
If others don't notice what you're doing for the Lord, the Lord does notice, and you won't be disappointed in the reward He gives you. Servants faithful over a few things will be given rule over many things. What this means, we don't know, but we know this: it will be better than we think.
Let us, therefore, ignore the disapproval of men and live for God's approval. And, let us invest ourselves, our time and money, not in the things that disappear at the Second Coming, but in the things that appear.
|Home Page |
Sermons provided by www.GraceBaptist.ws