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Sunday, April 19, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Resurrection Guarantees"

“Resurrection Guarantees”
April 19, 2009
1 Corinthians 15:20-28

We were in 1 Corinthians 15 last week on Resurrection Sunday.

How many of you, as we were looking at verses 1 through 19, kept on reading all about resurrection through the rest of the chapter? I did! Or at least I wanted to.

1 Corinthians 15 is the “Resurrection Chapter”– the watershed chapter on resurrection in the whole Bible. And, I said last week that we didn’t have time to study the whole thing. And we didn’t, last week.

But it’s so glorious! And so important! I thought maybe we shouldn’t stop on Resurrection Sunday but should make this Resurrection Month! And keep going through 1 Corinthians 15. So, we will. There’s some really important stuff here.

Remember what’s going on in this chapter so far. It seems that there were some folks at Corinth who were teaching that there is no such thing as resurrection. Dead people don’t come back and live again. No such thing as resurrection.

So Paul has been countering this false teaching. He reminded them (in verses 1 through 11) that the gospel, the good news of Christianity, includes the resurrection as a key element. And they had believed it when he first came and presented the gospel to them. The gospel says Jesus Christ has come back from the dead.

And if God could raise one person, He can raise whomever He wants!

And then, what we emphasized last week, is that our faith would be useless and stupid if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not real. Like I told my hitchhiker last week, if Christ has not been raised then we have no hope–there is no Christianity without a living Jesus Christ.

The apostles are no better than liars.
We are still doomed in our sins.
And we should be pitied more than all men.

BUT!

“Christ has indeed been raised from the dead[!]”

That is how our text begins today in verse 20.

Let’s read it. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (NIV)

Death could not hold Him.
The grave could not keep Him down.
Jesus Christ was dead but is alive again!

And Jesus’ resurrection set in motion a chain of inevitable events that are guaranteed.

This morning I want us to look at two glorious “Resurrection Guarantees.”

The next step in Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 is to demonstrate for us a few of the awesome, inevitable events which have been secured by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ’s resurrection set in motion a chain of inevitable events that are guaranteed. And they make all of the difference for our lives.

The first is in vv.20-23.

#1. JESUS’ RESURRECTION GUARANTEES THE RESURRECTION OF THOSE WHO BELONG TO HIM.

The “key word” for this section is “firstfruits.” Find it in v.20.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the FIRSTFRUITS of those who have fallen asleep.”

Firstfruits. Now, you and I don’t tend to use that word. Many of us probably don’t really know what it means.

It’s an agricultural term. It’s a farmer’s word. The firstfruits are the initial showings of a planted crop (and harvested crop). The firstfruits are the beginning of the harvest.

I grew up on a farm in north-central Ohio. My Dad rented out the land to a local farmer who rotated his crops between soybeans and corn and few other things. Corn was my favorite because my brother and I could go running into the cornfield and play hide and seek over 70 acres.

But my brother and I didn’t always know what the farmers had planted. I’m sure if we asked my Dad he would have known, but we often didn’t know until the first shoots of corn would stick up from the ground. That’s kind of like what is meant here by “firstfruits.”

In ancient Israel, the firstfruits did three main things: (1) they testified that the harvest had begun, (2) they indicated what the rest of the crop would be like, and (3) they guaranteed that there was more like that on the way!

Do you see how that works?

The firstfruits testified that the harvest had begun, they indicated what the rest of the crop would be like, and they guaranteed that there was more like that on the way.

And Paul is saying that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and is the “FIRSTFRUITS of those who have fallen asleep (or died).”

The harvest of resurrection has begun. Isn’t that exciting?!

God has a plan to transform all of believing humanity into a new humanity. And anyone who dies with genuine faith in Christ is promised a resurrection body, a place in the “resurrection harvest.” And gloriously, in the resurrection of Jesus, the harvest has begun! He’s the firstfruits!

Moreover, he indicates what the crops (us) are going to be like! If the firstfruits of corn came up scrambly and scrawny, that’s what you could expect out the rest of the crop. If it came out healthy, hale, and strong, you could expect a robust harvest.

Well, what was Jesus like when He came up? Think about that for a few moments and ponder what your future is like!

Jesus’ resurrection body is the model for ours! We’ll see that more as we go further into 1 Corinthians 15. Jesus’ resurrection body is the model for ours! He is the firstfruits, indicating what the crop will be like.

And moreover, His resurrection guarantees that there are more like Him on the way. If a few shoots of corn pop up, corn is coming. If Jesus rises from the dead, the dead are going to rise! V.21.

“[...the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.] For since death camethrough a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

Paul is saying that it is guaranteed.
Just like it is guaranteed that everyone who is “In Adam” has death, everyone who is “in Christ” shall be made alive.

But there is a delay between the firstfruits and the rest of the crop. V.23.

“But each in his own turn: Christ, [and here’s our word again!] the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”

Jesus’ resurrection is the firstfruits. And it guarantees that those who belong to Him will also receive resurrection. And it will happen, WHEN? This verse says, when Jesus returns. It says, “When He comes, those who belong to Him [will be raised].”

1 Thessalonians 4:16 says, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”

Jesus’ resurrection guarantees the resurrection of all who belong to Him. ...

Of course, the question that raises for us today is this: “Do you belong to Him?”

Do you belong to Jesus?

If you can answer that question with an overwhelming, unqualified, unreserved, absolute “Yes,” then you have great reason for rejoicing!

If you belong to Jesus, then if you die, when He comes back, you get a resurrection body!

You get to join the harvest!
You get a body like Jesus’!
You get the power of an indestructible life!

You will follow the firstfruits and be a part of the harvested crop of resurrected believers!

Isn’t that exciting?

Do you sometimes feel like your life is going nowhere?

I know some folks who are really depressed right by our economy, by their life situation, by things they see going on in our country, by things they see going on around the world–and there are a lot of depressing things going on right now.

But it won’t always be that way.

History is going in a direction–towards an end.

And for believers–this is the end–the harvest of resurrection!

Isn’t that exciting?

Doesn’t that change the way that we think about our lives?

If you belong to Jesus, you will be like Him–the firstfruits of those who have died.

Rejoice!

However, if you can’t give an unqualified “yes” to that question–“Do you belong to Jesus?”, if your answer must be “No,” then you need to repent while you can because you will miss out on the harvest.

You are still “in Adam.” And everyone “in Adam” dies.

And there will be a resurrection for you, but it will not be to eternal life but to eternal death. The Lord Jesus said in John 5, “a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out...and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (vv.28-29).

And the Apostle John records these sobering words in Revelation 20, “ And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (vv.12-15).

If you do not belong to Jesus, if your name is not written in the book of life, you will not be a part of the harvest of resurrection to life.

Repent now while you still can.

The Lord Jesus will receive you if you turn to Him in faith. Agree with Him that you are a sinner and tell Him that you want Him to save you from the lake of fire. Trust in His Crosswork on your behalf. Confess Him as the Lord and Master of your life.

And the Lord Jesus will include you in His harvest. V.22

“IN CHRIST all will be made alive...those who belong to Him.”

Guaranteed by the Resurrection.

The second guarantee is in verses 24 through 28.

#2. JESUS’ RESURRECTION GUARANTEES GOD’S ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OVER ALL HIS ENEMIES.

The “key words” here are “Under His Feet.” Look at verses 24 and 25.

“Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies UNDER HIS FEET.”

“Under His Feet” was an Hebraic way of saying “total conquest.”

Remember what we saw a few weeks ago in Joshua chapter 10 when the Israelites, against all odds had defeated the 5 Amorite Kings? The ones who had hid in cave?

Joshua brought the enemy kings out and had his commanders do what?

Put their feet on their necks.

That’s a picture of total victory–your enemies are under your feet.

Got that picture in your mind?

Paul is saying that after the coming of Christ and the harvest of resurrection, Christ will destroy all “dominion, authority and power,” [that is all of His enemies] and put them under His feet and then hand over this triumphant Kingdom into the administrative hands of God the Father.

This is total victory by the Son of God.

There is coming a day, guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ that every enemy of God will be subdued. The Greek word here for “destroyed” means to render inoperative, to put out of action.

Right now, there are powerful enemies of God whom God in His inscrutable wisdom allows to continue in opposition to Him for a limited period of time. He rules them now by His sovereign and mysterious will. But there is coming a glorious day (I believe at the end of His millennial reign) when Jesus Christ shall see every single of foe of His “under His feet.”

Psalm 110 says that this will happen: “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies...The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.” (1-2, 5-6)

The Lord Jesus will put every dominion, authority and power out of commission.

Now, why we I say that this is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ? V.26.

“The last enemy to be destroyed (put out of commission) is death.”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the decisive death blow dealt to death itself!

Do you know that death is a defeated enemy? And someday soon it will be rendered completely inoperative.
We’ll see that in more when we get to the end of chapter especially v.54.

But in v.26 we see that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the decisive death-blow struck against death itself. And one day soon, death itself “will draw its last breath” as an enemy of God and His people.

Revelation 20:14 says “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.”

Do you see what that means? John the Revelator saw that Death will be thrown into the lake of fire which is the second death. Death itself will die!

Are you afraid of death?

It’s natural to be afraid of death.

Our whole world is afraid of death. Even Christians act afraid of death.

But death itself is defeated.

Death itself is doing to die!

And here’s how we know this–the resurrection guarantees it!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees that the end will come just like He says.

Jesus’ resurrection guarantees God’s ultimate triumph over all His enemies.

Notice I say, “God’s ultimate triumph” and not just Christ’s. Not because it isn’t Christ’s triumph (it is!), but because everything here is all moving toward the glory of God. V.27.

“For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this [this subduing of all opposition], then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”


Now get this! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the first of a chain of unstoppable events that will culminate in the undisputed, unchallenged, unmatched, pervasive sovereignty of God.

When God is all in all, all of creation will be in glad submission to Him for all eternity. And even the uncreated God the Son will gladly hand over the “keys of the kingdom” to God the Father saying, “Father, my work of redemption has been perfectly accomplished. Here is a people and a world redeemed for Your glory. To You be the glory forever and ever, all in all, Amen and Amen!”

No more opposition. No more sin. No more resistance to the will of God.

The New Living Translation renders v.28 like this: “When he has conquered all things, the Son will present himself to God, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, WILL BE UTTERLY SUPREME OVER EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE.”

That’s right. At the end of the chain of unstoppable events begun by the defeat of death at the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a glorious eternity where God is utterly supreme over everything everywhere! ... Wow!

How does that make you feel?

Does your heart just thrill with this?

This is the future. This is where everything is headed.

All because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The question that leaves us is, “Are you a part of the Kingdom or the Opposition?”

Are you a part of the glorious Kingdom that God the Son is going to hand over to God the Father (v.24)?

If so, then you have everything to rejoice about, every day. Because you are a part of something unstoppable and glorious!

Jesus said, “your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

You are a part of something unstoppable and glorious and...eternal!

Rejoice that you belong to the Kingdom of God.

This makes your life make sense.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it! This is where your life is headed–for the Kingdom!

But if you are still a part of the opposition, then I plead with you today to repent while you still can.

Come to Christ. Don’t wait another day. You may not be able to repent tomorrow.

If you are a part of the opposition (and you are either one or the other–there is no neutrality), you will be utterly destroyed and put under His feet.

Hear what John saw of the Risen Christ returning in judgment, Revelation 19: “ I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’

He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.’

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh” (vv.11-21).

Those words are in the Bible. They are going to come true at the end of time. If you still are a part of the opposition, lay down your weapons now.

You don’t have to be destroyed. Jesus died so that if you believe on Him you will not perish but have everlasting life!

And that’s His desire for you. He doesn’t desire your destruction, but your salvation! The Bible says, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Repent now, while you still can.

Because Jesus’ resurrection will guarantee your resurrection if you belong to Him. And Jesus’ resurrection will guarantee His ultimate triumph over all God’s enemies.

So leave the opposition and join the Kingdom.

It will be worth it, when God is all in all. Resurrection Guaranteed.

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