Pressing on with Jesus no matter what April 08 07
Pressing on with Jesus no matter what!
Easter, April 8, 2007
Introduction: Look with me this Easter morning at one of the most important of resurrection verses in all of Scripture. Please open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 15 and go to the last 8 verses of this chapter beginning in verse 50, " I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass 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 brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:50-58, ESV NT Rev. Int.)
In these verses we will see several truths—First we will see that the natural man—know matter how good he is, how he has lived a good life, no matter how much he has done for humanity and for the world—cannot inherit the kingdom of God—that is—he will never have eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Another truth is that we, none of us know when Jesus is coming back in the second coming—some of us will be asleep (dead in Christ) and some of us will be alive. Another truth of the section of Scripture is that death has no power over Christians—this is huge because most of humanity fears death. And just as important as death having no power over us, we also learn that sin has no power over us. Death and sin were defeated at the cross and have now become powerless with the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are not just theological truths for Christians—but they are the reality of our daily life.
And finally, a truth that cannot be emphasized enough—our life is not meaningless or futile—that our lives are very significant to God and that He has for us significant and important kingdom work. We have talked all of this year about how God want to use each of us to advance the kingdom of God. I believe this section of Scripture is very important for building our understanding of that.
I think Paul shows us significant departure for normal 21st century Christian thinking. So often our understanding of being the church comes from our Sunday gatherings and our weekly Bible studies. Over the past few hundred years we have seen the church institutionalized where we who are Christians gather together so that together we can weather the storms of humanity—plain truth is many of us have a bunker mentality—we join each Christian service together so that we can endure the fight that takes place in our world. We have been learning that this mentality is so contrary to what the church ought to be about. I think for most of us, what we find discouraging about living in the world is that we don’t seem to make any difference. I want to draw your attention to a very important word in our passage for today—that word is in the last verse 58—therefore—it is a bit trite to say it, but therefore in Scripture is always there for a reason. It is a word that signals what is significant about what comes before it. Dear ones, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not theology—it is reality. Jesus is risen—death which is the penalty (the sting) of sin has been defeated—you and I who believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead are now filled with faith rather than fear. Mankind’s greatest fear—the fear that we will one day die— has been defeated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And the parallel truth that goes along with the defeat of death is defeat of sin in our life. The power of sin is the law—that is, we know what we should be doing—because the law is clear about it—but we don’t do it—that is guilt. I think that many of us feel so guilty about how we are living—and the world really heaps on that guilt—global warming, how we dress, how we eat, how we do just about everything. Guilt drives our inadequacy—we feel that really, we can’t make much of a difference to anybody.
If, today, you are thinking that you don’t really matter, that what you do isn’t very significant, I want to draw your attention to the “therefore” of our passage this Easter morning. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Paul puts in that therefore to show us that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant reality in our lives. Notice the words after therefore—be steadfast—that means make sure your thinking is settled about the realities of the resurrection—that fear has given way to faith. The second word in the verse is immovable means to be unable to be shaken—firmly persistent in what you believe. That means that nothing that enters your life can shake the foundation of your faith. No one can bring doubt, fear, and guilt about what you believe. And the truth of the resurrection of Jesus not just in what you believe, but is worked out in how you live and what you do. The word “abounding” in this verse is used of a flower that goes from bud to full bloom—you are blooming right where God has planted you—you are fully engaged in doing the business of the Lord—completely knowing that what you are doing has significance in the kingdom. The work of the Lord has everything to do with demonstrating the love of Jesus to everyone we meet. We demonstrate a changed life, a heart at peace, the radiant joy of fellowship with a living Lord on your face, and love pouring out of your heart to those who, like you, have struggled and lost frequently in the rat race of life. That is what God sends us out to do as Christians. He has given us a work, not that we might make notable
achievements which men applaud, and in which we make a name for ourselves. What God looks for is:
How are we behaving towards others?
How do we show A loving spirit,
A gracious, forgiving attitude,
A willingness to return good for evil,
An ability to speak a word of release to those who are prisoners of their own habits,
To set free those who are oppressed by wrong, hateful attitudes,
To bind up the brokenhearted, and To open the eyes of the blind?
And as we live in resurrection truth, we advance his kingdom moment by moment, day by day!