Sunday, May 10, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "A Christian Mother's Labor Is Not In Vain"

“A Christian Mother’s Labor Is Not in Vain”
Mother's Day
May 10, 2009
1 Corinthians 15:50-58

This is our fifth and last message in our Resurrection Month–that started back on Resurrection Sunday in April.

We’ve been working our way through 1 Corinthians 15–the Resurrection Chapter–and we get the climax and application this week.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 is a passage that is read at many funerals. I read it at just about every grave-side service that I conduct. But today is not a funeral. Today is Mother’s Day!

A day when we thank God for and honor our Mothers.

Especially all of the hard work that they do for us. Their labors of love for us.

Our mothers went through “labor” to give us birth.

But their “labors” didn’t stop there. Did they?

Mothering is hard work.

And every one of us should be thankful for the hard work that our Moms have done for us.

Changing diapers. Chasing kids around. Swatting bottoms. Handing out medicine.

Cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking!

Thank you, Moms, for the hard work you have done and are doing for your kids!

Whenever I ask Heather what message I ought to give to Christian mothers on Mother’s Day, her answers is almost always some variation on this theme: “Tell the Christian Mothers that it is all worth it. Tell them that all of the work that a Christian mother puts into raising her children the way the Lord wants her to–is worth it. Keep doing it. It is worth it.”

Guess what is the application of this last paragraph of the Resurrection Chapter?

It’s in the last sentence (v.58).

Let’s read the whole thing and then we’ll see where I get this title:

“A Christian Mother’s Labor Is Not in Vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

[scripture reading, prayer]

For the last five weeks, we have listened in as the Apostle Paul tried to fix the problem at Corinth of a group of people in the church who denied the resurrection of the dead.

He has reminded them that they used to believe in a resurrection; he has shown them that Christianity cannot stand without Christ’s resurrection; he has pointed out to them the guaranteed benefits of the resurrection; he has exposed the uselessness of suffering for Christ (or even being good at all) without the resurrection; and he has demonstrated the utter foolishness of denying God’s creativity and power to accomplish the resurrection which He has planned.

And now here, in vv.50-58, we have the climax of Paul’s words. These are glorious words!

V.50 picks up where last week left off. Last week was all about our new bodies being like seeds. Remember?

You don’t plant an oak-tree, you plant an acorn. Our bodies now are mere acorns compared to the oak-tree bodies that will be ours when Jesus comes. Our bodies now are perishable, dishonored, weak, natural, and sin-bearing. Our bodies then will be imperishable, glorious, powerful, supernatural, and spiritual.

We have, so far, lived in dust-formed bodies like Adam’s, but soon we will live in transformed bodies like the Risen Lord Jesus Christ’s.

And what Paul wants to get across in this first section (vv.50-53) is the necessity of this transformation. The “resurrection transformation” is not an option. It is a necessity. It is a must. It is a need.


“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”

Do you see the point? You cannot go into the coming kingdom of God like you are right now.

Everyone here is flesh and blood. You and I have an Adam-like body. But our natural bodies are not suitable for God’s kingdom–the new heavens and the new earth.

Just for example, look down at your hands for a second. Your hands are a marvel of God’s workmanship in design. He is a master-craftsman. But your hands, as they are now, will not be good enough for the kingdom of God. They will not be appropriate for the new earth.

They are perishable. They are dying, decaying, falling apart, corruptible, temporary. They are not what they were supposed to be because of sin, and they are almost nothing compared to what they must be to enter the imperishable, eternal Kingdom of God.

“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” The perishable cannot inherit the imperishable. You need a new body.

The transformation to a resurrection body is necesssary and essential.

So essential, in fact, that ALL must go through it to enter the kingdom. That’s the point of v.51.

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed...” Stop there for a second.

Paul reveals a mystery. A mystery is something that was once hidden but is no revealed. Paul reveals that there will be a generation of Christians who are alive when Jesus returns. [And I hope that it is our generation!] And that generation WILL NOT DIE (He says, “We will not all sleep”).

But [get this!] that generation that is alive when Christ comes, must be transformed, too!

“We will not all sleep, but we will ALL be changed.”

Let me put it this way: Those who are alive when Jesus returns will get a resurrection body even though they have never died!

It’s that important! When we are talking about resurrection, we don’t just mean simple resuscitation; we don’t just mean reanimation; we’re not talking about Zombie-life, we don’t just mean the near-death experiences that we read about in the tabloids. We are talking about total resurrection transformation.

Our bodies must be transposed to the key of imperishability or they cannot play the tune of the kingdom of God.

New bodies.
That’s what we need.
New bodies.

Paul said it this way in Philippians 3: “We eagerly await a Savior from [heaven], the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

That’s what must happen to us so that we can inherit the Kingdom of God.

And it will happen, for those who belong to Jesus and are alive at His coming, instantaneously. V.52.

“[We will all be changed]–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

The last trumpet is the heavenly signal that the End of Time has come. And in a flash, Paul says, in the twinkling [or the blinking] of an eye it will all be over.

Whoosh! Just like that!

The dead will be raised with transformed bodies.
And the saints who are alive will be instantaneously transformed, too.

What a glorious day!

Do you look forward to that day?
Do you live in anticipation of that Resurrection Day?

This is what we are supposed to be living for.

But “we are far too easily pleased.”

We are content to look forward to our next vacation. Or to the weekend. Or to our next paycheck. Or to our next meal.

This is what we are to be living in anticipation of! This is what we are to talk about with one-another.

Paul says to encourage one-another with these words in 1 Thessalonians 4:

“According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

In other words, these are the kind of words that should encourage us. They should be on our tongue with one-another when we are comforting or challenging or praying for one-another.

This is what we are supposed to be living for!

Just this week, one of our elders was in my office encouraging me to emphasize the End Times in our preaching ministry.

He was saying that we need to constantly remind ourselves of what is coming–so that we are living for Jesus in light of His return.

Do you hope sometimes that Jesus won’t return soon? Do you hope that you will get married first? Do you hope that you will raise children first? Do you hope that you will get out of school first? Do you hope that you will get that new car or bike first? Do you hope that your business gets off the ground first? I have felt that way before.

But if we hope like that that Jesus won’t return soon, then it shows that our hearts do not understand the wonderful transformation to glory that God has planned for us.

Our new bodies will enable us “to be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thess 4:17)

He is with us now spiritually present. But then, we will see Him face to face!

Let’s live in anticipation of His coming! When we get a new body that will enable us to be with the Lord forever.

That’s why we need a new body–to enjoy a love relationship with Jesus Christ throughout all eternity, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever. Amen. V.53.

“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”

To Get Into God’s Kingdom You Need a New Body!

And He’s got one ready for you.


“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’”

Here is the glorious anticipation of our greatest enemy’s defeat. It comes from Isaiah 25.

It is the death of death itself.

Remember, death is the “last enemy” according to v.26.

And death comes to us through sin, v.56. The “sting of death is sin.” Death is the wages of our sin. And sin is made powerful by the law of God (which is good but highlights our sinfulness). V.56, “The power of sin is the law.”

You and I need to be reminded that we have powerful, awful, deadly enemies in this life: the world, the flesh, the devil, and worst of all–death through our sin.

And these enemies have conspired to take us down forever and ever into unending torment and pain and suffering.

But. V.57!

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Victory in Jesus, My Savior Forever
He Sought Me and He Bought Me With His Redeeming Love
He Loved Me ‘Ere I Knew Him, And All My Love Is Due Him
He Plunged Me to Victory Beneath the Cleansing Flood

Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law. Jesus Christ has paid for our sin. Jesus Christ has dealt the decisive death blow to death itself.

And one day, all of our enemies–including death–will be completely vanquished!

“Death will be swallowed up in victory.”

I think that we’re supposed to get this mental picture of death falling, falling, falling into the mouth of victory.

Death is seen no more! Death is swallowed-up in the jaws of victory in Jesus.


Paul is so excited in anticipation of this coming triumph that he begins to taunt death.

Do you see that?

You can just about see him on his tiptoes with his fist in the air as he personifies death in words similar to Hosea 13:14. (V.55)

“Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Paul gets in the face of Death and says, “Take that, Death! Where’s your power now, O Death? Come on, Death, let’s see what you have to offer! Take your best shot! You have been de-fanged. Your stinger has been plucked! So there!”

“Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” You don’t have it anymore.

“You’ve lost, Death. You are a loser!” Christ has given us the victory! Praise God!


Do you praise God every day for your salvation? The cross and empty tomb of Jesus Christ mean that death will not triumph over you.

You have a great victory over all of your enemies!

Christian moms, I know that you feel the force of your enemies against you–the world, the flesh, the devil–and the last enemy–death.

But you have a great victory overcomes them all!

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Unless maybe you are here this morning, and you are not yet a follower of Jesus Christ. Death IS your enemy, and, without Christ, it will defeat you.

You have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The law of God powers your sin to show its sinfulness.
You have earned the wages of sin which is death.
You are going to Hell.

But you don’t have to!

Jesus Christ has wrought a great victory over sin and death.

He died on the cross to pay for your sins, and He has risen again to give new life and new bodies to those who will (in total trust) bow the knee before Him as Lord, right now.

Don’t let another second go by without trusting Jesus. He wants to be your Savior and your Lord. Turn right now in you heart from your sin and trust in Him.

And Jesus will save you and include you in this ultimate victory over death itself.

Christians, do you have victory in your battles with sin right now?

V.57 says that Jesus “gives us the victory...” That’s present tense. Not just that He gave us the victory, but He is doling it out right now. He gives us grace to have victory over our sin. We need to receive that grace and live by that grace every hour of every day.

To Get Into God’s Kingdom You Need a New Body.
And God has one planned for you!

And To Get Over Your Enemies You Need a Great Victory.
And God has supplied [and is supplying] a great victory for you!


“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

To Get On With His Work You Need an Unbeatable Hope.

And He’s given you one! It’s called, “Resurrection!”

You have a transformation to look forward to into an imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual new body. It is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His overwhelming victory over every one of your enemies.

So you can’t lose.

We can’t lose! We can’t lose! We can’t lose!

It’s an unbeatable hope. What can stand against it? Absolutely nothing!

Now, you might be wondering what this really has to do with being a Christian Mom.

It has everything to do with being a Christian mom.

It has everything to do with anything we do as Christians!

Change that next diaper. Even in the middle of the night.Fix that next meal.
Discipline that child for their defiant behavior. Yes, again.
Tell your kids about Jesus one more time. Hold out to them the grace of the gospel.
Help them with their homework.
Pray them through their trials.
Take them to that next game.
Wash that next load of laundry.
Open the Bible with them at bed time again.
Give that loving parental counsel once again–even if they aren’t going to listen.

Don’t give up, Christian Moms.

“Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord”

The work of the Lord is not just what I do as pastor of a church.

It’s what you do as a Christian mom.

Give yourself fully to it. Don’t give up.

The same is true for all of us here.

What is God calling you to do for Him?

∙ Teach a Sunday school class?
∙ Be a witness in the marketplace or at school?
∙ Love an unbelieving spouse?
∙ Defeat some God-belittling sin in your life?
∙ Endure the hardships of Christian parenting?
∙ Plan a men’s ministry event?
∙ Do your job at work with excellence as unto the Lord?
∙ Share your faith in Jesus with an unsaved friend?
∙ Step out in faith into a new ministry area?
∙ Persevere in prayer for revival and spiritual awakening?
∙ Go to a “hard place” as a missionary?

Do it! Do His work because you can’t lose!

A Christian Mother’s Labor is Never in Vain.

And neither is the rest of our labors.

Paul says, “Stand Firm. Let nothing move you.” Don’t get caught up in false teachings that deny the resurrection.

And don’t get caught up in the things of the world. Set your mind on things above. And then get busy with God’s work for you. Because you can’t lose!

Think about it.

What’s the worst that can happen to you if you are doing the work of the Lord?

You might die and not see the fruit of your labors.

So what? God will raise you from the dead and reward you for your labor in Christ!

Nothing you do for the Lord will be in vain!

So what if God calls you to the mission field and you miss out on pay raises, and vacations, and retirement?

Your labor will not be missed! It won’t be forgotten. It won’t go un-rewarded. Your “labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

We have an unbeatable hope. We should have unstoppable ministry.

Death is defeated for us. So we should be powerful in our ministry for Him.

We are far too easily stopped by the prospect of apparent pain and loss.

So often, we rationalize our complacency in ministry–including parenting–because of something we want to gain, but we will lose absolutely nothing if we follow Christ because we have all eternity in resurrection bodies to enjoy His rewards!

So get out there and do His work! Get busy!

Paul says, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.”

The word behind “always” and “fully” is “perisseu,onte.” It comes from the same word I demonstrated by pouring water into and over that glass that one time.

It means “Overflowing.”

Our lives should overflow with ministry because we have an unbelievable, unbeatable hope in the victory of Jesus and new bodies on the way.

Jesus is alive. He has won the victory. He has a resurrection body ready and waiting for you. So...

Stand firm, Christian Mothers. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. We can’t lose.

It is worth it. It will always be worth it.

So, don’t give up.

Give yourself fully to the work of the Lord.