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1 Corinthians 15:50-58
WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED
Intro: 1 Corinthians chapter 15 is a wonderful chapter. It opens with a clear statement of what the saving Gospel is all about, verses 3-4. From there, the verses rise together like the words of a great anthem. Over and over Paul sounds out the great refrain: Jesus Christ is risen indeed!
The saints are reminded that because Jesus lives, they shall live also. They are reminded that even if death were to take these mortal bodies; we will live on in a new body in a new place called Heaven. What a truth!
Years ago, Bill Gaither penned the refrain to the song “Because He Lives. That refrain goes like this:
Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future
and life is worth the living just because He lives.
That is what Paul is trying to say in these verses! Because Jesus lives, we can have a better life now. Because Jesus lives, we can everlasting life someday. Because Jesus lives, we have the hope of seeing our departed loved one again. Because Jesus lives, we hope in the hour of our death. Because Jesus lives, we will enjoy victory on our death beds and glory over the cemetery!
But, most of that is somewhere out there in the future! What we need is hope for today and Paul has that hope in the words of our text. He tells us that Christianity is more than just waiting to die to get something better and to go somewhere better. He wants us to know that believing on Jesus puts us in a position to receive some precious consolation right now.
I want to take a few minutes to look into these verses today. I want you to know that there is hope for the future and there is hope for today as well. In verse 51 Paul says, “And we shall all be changed.” I would like to lift those words out as my title today. Let me share with you a few of the reasons we have for our hope.
A. v. 50, 53 There Is Enlightenment Concerning Our Problem The thrust of verses 50 and 53 is that we simply cannot go to Heaven like we are. These bodies are defiled by sin and cannot enter Heaven. These bodies are mortal and are not designed to exist for eternity in that Heavenly realm. If we are going to go there, these bodies must be changed! That is what Paul has been talking about in the preceding verses. In verses 35-49 we are told that the saints can expect to inherit a new body in the resurrection. When they die in Jesus, they will be raised from the dead in a body like His, 1 Cor. 15:49; 1 John 3:2.
So, that is our dilemma. To get a new body and to be free from this decaying, dying, and defiled body, we have to die. Therefore, death becomes a door of hope for those who know the Lord. It allows the spirit to be free from the prison of this body to await the day when the body is resurrected from the grave and changed into the image of Jesus. We cannot go like we are!
B. v. 51-52 There Is Enlightenment Concerning His Promise Here is where the mystery comes in! Paul reveals the truth that some of the Lord’s children will not have to pass through the door of dead, but that they will be “changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
Paul is speaking of an event that has come to be known as the Rapture of the Church. He goes into more detail in 1 Thes. 4:16-17. When that moment comes, Jesus will come in the clouds above this earth and He will call His redeemed people home to be with Him. The dead will rise and receive their resurrection bodies. The living saints will be instantly changed and all will go up together to meet the Lord Jesus in the clouds. That great truth was a “mystery in the Old Testament and was revealed to the saints in the New Testament.
Let’s take just a minute to examine what this verse teaches us about that blessed event.
· It Will Be A Sudden Event The word moment comes from the same word that gives us the word atom. It refers to “something that is indivisible. It speaks of the “smallest amount of time imaginable.” The word “twinkling was used to refer to the flap of a wing; the buzz of a gnat; or the twinkling of a star. Scientists have estimated that a blink of the eye takes place in 1/30th of a second. A twinkle on the eye takes place in 1/10,000th of a second. In other words, when Jesus comes, He is coming suddenly! When He does, He will instantly raise the dead and instantly change the living. It will not be a process; it will happen so fast it will be over before we will even understand that it has begun!
He will come for His people and He will come unannounced. His people will be here one moment and the next they will be gone! It makes no difference whether they are dead in the grave or alive on the earth; all of God’s saved people will be taken away suddenly! That is why Jesus said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh,” Matt. 24:44. It will be sudden!
· It Will Be A Selective Event Notice the words we and all. To whom do they refer? The answer is in verse 50. Paul is speaking to the “brethren.” When Jesus comes, He is not coming for everyone. He is only coming for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for their soul’s salvation. On those who are saved will go. Not those who have been baptized; not those who have joined the church; not those who have prayed a prayer; not those who have been good neighbors; Jesus is coming for those who have been “born again, John 3:3, 7. If that does not describe you, then I would suggest that you need to make your preparations for His return. You need to be saved! You need to get right, or plan to get left, Luke 17:34-36. It will be selective!
· It Will Be A Solemn Event Those who are left behind in the Rapture will not even realize what has happened. They will remain in their lost condition and eventually go to Hell without Jesus. If you have read the “Left Behind books, you have been led to believe that you can reject Jesus now and have another chance to be saved after the Rapture. That is not what the Bible teaches, 2 Thes. 2:11. There will be many saved after the Rapture, but only those who have never heard the Gospel before. My friend, you do not qualify!
If you are left, you will enter the Great Tribulation. You will experience Hell on earth and then you will die and go to Hell for all eternity. It does not thrill me to tell you that, but it is the truth! If you have never trusted Jesus, you need to do that today so you can be ready when He returns! It will be a solemn!
· It Will Be A Sad Event Why will it be sad? Families will be broken forever on that day. Husbands and wives will be parted. Parents and children will see one another no more. Friends will spend eternity apart from one another. The saddest part of all is the fact that it did not have to end that way. Those who are lost today can be saved and can go to Heaven if you will only come to Jesus. It will be sad!
· It Will Be A Satisfying Event Paul says that the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Think about that! Cancer, heart disease, old age, and dozens of others diseases have been claiming our loved ones since the dawn of time. God says there is coming a day when those who died in faith “shall be raised incorruptible.” That is, they may have died with cancer, but they will be raised with a body that is cancer proof! They may have died of old age, but they will get up in a body that cannot age. They may have died of heart disease, but they will rise with a body that is disease and death proof! That ought to make a backslid Baptist take an aisle-running, slobber-slinging, Holy Ghost shouting fit! Your loved ones are not gone! Jesus will bring them back, glorify their bodies and you will see them again some day! Hallelujah!
Then Paul says “and we shall be changed! That word “change means to cause one thing to cease and another to take its place. This old life and this old body are going to be changed instantly. One minute we will be here, the next we will be there! One minute we will be in these vile, sinful, dying bodies and the next we will be just like Jesus! Verse 53 says that we are going to “put on a new body and a new life. The words “put on refer to putting on clothing.” One of these days, our redeemed spirits will dress up in a redeemed body!
The last sound these earthly ears will ever hear will be the sound of His trumpet calling us up to meet Him! You know what I say? I say, “Hallelujah!” I say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” You see, I can’t go like I am, so He is going to make me like I ought to be!
II. v. 54-57 THERE IS A WORD OF EXCITEMENT
A. v. 54-56 There Is Excitement Over Our Victory Paul mentions four great enemies that will be defeated in the end. He mentions death, the grave, sin and the Law. Each of these is against us!
1. Death Death is pictured as a fearful monster that has a horrible stinger. It has inflicted its pain countless times since man began to die thousands of years ago. We don’t like to think about it, but death is stalking each on of us and one day its stinger will find the mark and we will leave here. Now, it is one thing to die, but it is another thing to die in sin. The Bible says that “the sting of death is sin. One day, when death comes for the lost person, they will feel the sting of a lifetime of sin and then drop off into the horror of an eternity in Hell! In Jesus, death is defeated!
2. The Grave How horrible is the grave to our mortal minds. We follow the body of a loved one to that cemetery and we place that casket in the cold ground. Then, we turn and walk away with a broken heart and an empty place in our heart and home. The grave is cruel! But, in Jesus, the grave has no power!
3. Sin Sin defiles us, it devastates our lives and it dooms us to Hell. Sin separates us from the Lord. It destroys homes, hearts and hopes. It is a vile thing that tarnishes every relationship we have and corrupts every part of our lives. It is a horrible, cruel enemy, but in Jesus, sin is defeated!
4. The Law - The law is what shows us that we are sinners and it is that which gives sin its rightful claim of death upon us. The law was intended by God to reveal to man that he was a sinner. It is law that reveals our true nature. The law is not sinful but the law shows us that we are sinners.
Listen to Paul as he shouts the victory in verse 55! To those in Jesus, there is no sting in death; there is no victory for the grave; there is power in sin; and there is no condemnation in the Law.
B. v. 57 There Is Excitement Over The Victor Here is the source of our victory. It is not in us, but it is in Jesus. When He came to this world, lived a perfect life, died on the cross and rose again from the dead, He defeated every enemy for us. Now, those who are in Jesus are free from the sting of death; the victory of the grave; the strength of sin and condemnation of the Law! Why? I’m glad you asked!
1. Jesus Defeated Death And The Grave When the Lamb of God entered death on the cross and rose again three days later, He forever rendered death ineffective in the lives of His children. Now, there is no sting, just a passing from this world to that, 2 Cor. 5:1-5. Jesus Christ took the full penalty of the sting of death in himself.
(Note: Praise His Name, when the time comes to make the crossing, don’t you fear death. Don’t you listen to the lies of the devil. You can rest in the promise of the Lord! He has stripped both the devil and the grave all their power! That is shouting ground!)
2. Jesus Fulfilled The Law Jesus came into this world and He perfectly kept the Law. No one in the universe from Heaven above to Hell beneath could have pointed an accusing finger at Him. He fulfilled the Law and now, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, Romans 10:4. Because of that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, Romans 8:1. Glory to God, that is still shouting ground!)
3. Jesus Destroyed Sin Through His death on the cross, Jesus eliminated the power of sin. He delivered all those who receive Him from sins power and sets them free, Rom. 6:14.
(Note: Jesus defeated all of our enemies when He died and rose again. Now, all those who trust Jesus for salvation are eternally free. That, I repeat, is shouting ground!)
III. v. 58 THERE IS A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT
A. We Are Encouraged To Be Firm We are called upon to make up our minds to take a stand for the Lord. We are to be “steadfast. This word means “to sit or to be sedentary.” It carries the idea of “dead weight or of being hard to budge. We are to be “unmovable. This word speaks of something that cannot be moved from its place. That’s what we are to be! We are to take our stand for Jesus; live our lives for Him and refuse to move. We have a purpose. We have something to live for! We have a reason to take a stand and we are encouraged to do so!
B. We Are Encouraged To Be Fruitful We are to abound in His work. How can we do that? We can do that by learning two valuable lessons. First, we need to learn that it is His work! It is not our duty to make it go and to try and guarantee success. It is His work and He will see to it. Second, If we are to abound in His work, then we learn to let Him live through us. This means that we must die to self, Gal. 2:20 and we must learn to abide in Jesus so His life can flow through us, John 15:5. As we yield to Him, He will live through us, He will be glorified and His work will be done.
C. We Are Encouraged To Be Faithful Paul is saying that a life lived for Jesus is a life worth living! In the end, your faith in Christ will be vindicated and your faith will be validated. There will be a resurrection day, a reunion day and a reward day. They will come to all of God’s people. So, stay true to Him and be faithful! This life pays off now, but it pays big dividends in the end. You might even say that our retirement package is out of this world!
Conc: I heard about a young preacher, who was going to visit an aged dying saint, and he went to comfort her and as they were talking she said to him, “Pastor, I’m not going to die.” And he smiled and he said, “Oh, you have trusted in the Lord and He is giving you comfort in the time of your death. She says, “Oh no, Pastor; I do not expect to die. Well he thought in her dying condition that her mind was wandering a little bit and he said, “Well then what makes you exempt from death? She said, “Oh, I died a long time ago. Well he knew by then she was surely insane, so he said, “Well, Sister, what do you mean? She said, “Oh, I died two thousand years ago: when Jesus died I died, when He was crucified I was crucified, when He rose again I rose again. Death is far behind me, a glorious future awaits me. I am not going to die.
Well I want to know that is the good news of the Gospel for you and for me today. It is the good news that the victory that Christ won on the cross, through the tomb, and above the clouds, is available for me and you in every situation.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I like what I have heard today! I praise God there is coming a changing day! I am ready for that day, how about you? If you are not, then this altar is open and if Jesus is calling you to come to Him, then I invite you to do that. You come and be saved today! You mind Him. If there are needs, this is the place to get them met. If you want to thank Him for giving you the victory, this would be a good time to do that.