Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. I don't want to sound too pessimistic, but what do we dedicate our lives to so often? You see, you dedicate your whole life for your retirement, for your nest egg. And as Solomon says, your kids or grandkids are going to just take it and squander it anyway.
But you think that's going to be important. People work incredibly long hours, dedicate their lives to a company for a lifetime, and they get a gold watch. And basically a week and a half after you left the company, they forgot you're alive. But you dedicated yourself to it. You thought this is what life is about, but it's not. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana. Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's Word meets our world. My resurrection is a future event.
What's it going to be like? I'm not sure exactly, but I think I have a pretty good idea. I know Jesus Christ was raised from the dead about 2000 years ago. And I know even before he ascended, his resurrected body was different.
I know that. I know that it bore the scars of the crucifixion. So it was right there in a resurrected body. I know that he ate with the disciples. Just like they ate, he ate. But I also know he walked right through walls.
That he was not limited by the dimensions of our space. It says he just appeared in their midst. I also know that in the book of Acts, that body just ascended and went to the heaven.
And I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty cool. You see, I think that that's a resurrected body. You see, what's my body going to be like?
What's it going to be like? Well, hold your place here because we're coming back, but go with me to 1 John chapter 3. 1 John, right near the end of the Bible, chapter 3. And here the Apostle John starts the chapter out by saying, See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called the children of God, and such we are.
And then enough would get you all excited. John says, we are called the children of God. That's an amazing statement. But he says, for this reason the world does not know us because it did not know him. And then he says this, Beloved, now we are the children of God.
But let's talk about then. He says, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when he appears, here it is, we will be like him. Because we will see him just as he sees us.
That's good enough for me. We will be like him. Have you thought about that?
Have you thought about what that would be like? You'll be like him. Now you saw him in Revelation 1 glorified. You know through the Gospels and the Acts account what he was like even when he was resurrected. Now how wonderful is that going to be? You see, we will be like him.
And by the way, as people, don't we set our standards too low? Now I'm not trying to offend anybody, but there are probably ladies in this congregation that went somewhere like Macy's, and some girl in a lab coat behind some place in the cosmetics and told you this is the exact shade of lipstick that Angelina Jolie wears. And so you plastered it on your face and bought it for 25 bucks because that's what you want to look like. Put in these contacts and your eyes will be as blue as Paul Newman's.
Put them in, put them in. We want to always be like somebody. How about him? And that's a fact, you're going to be like him. See, maybe we should set our standards a little higher.
What can we do? Who do we want to emulate? Who do we want to be like? He says we're going to be like him. What a great transformation we have to look forward to in the future. Now back to 1 Corinthians 15.
Let's look at this great triumph that causes this great transformation. Paul says in verse 55, O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? He personifies death. He's calling it out like he's calling out a person.
It's an interesting thing. But he's overwhelmed by this. O death, where is your victory?
There will be none. But notice one other thing he says. He said, O death, where is your sting? He knows there's a sting.
We all know there's a sting, isn't there? Death stings for all of us. You go through the process of dying, and for so many of us, it's not quick. It's agonizing. For some of us, it has a lot of pain. For some of us, it's a lengthy process.
For some of us, the wick goes out very slowly at the end. That stings. And even for those of us who don't die, but watch it happen to someone we love, there's a sting, isn't there? It stings.
See, God gives it its due. Death stings. He's not saying it doesn't at all.
But he is saying it has no victory. You see, the whole idea of death, notice then he defines it in verse 56. He says the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
He's talking about this idea that what is it that caused this death? Actually, when you think about it, there's really three things, three great enemies of life for human beings. The first enemy is sin. Sin wants to slay you. I mean, in the garden, God said to Adam and Eve, you can eat of any tree of the garden you like, but you can't eat of that tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And he said, because if you eat of that tree, that day you will surely die.
And they did, and they did. You see, that's the idea. The wages of sin, Paul writes in Romans. The wages of sin is what?
Death. Well, what about the law, the sting of the law? Well, the law reveals the holiness of God, the absolute standards by which you would have to meet if you were going to have a relationship with God. And God spells it all out.
And guess what happens in the law? We fall short. We don't make it. Sin wants to slay us. The law wants to slay us. And, of course, death wants to slay us.
Now, it's interesting. He says here, 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. I want you to think about this now from a point of view of the triumph of this. What did Jesus Christ accomplish? You see, what did Jesus Christ accomplish? The law had demanded the death because of sin.
In the Old Testament, whenever you sinned under the law, what did the law demand? Something has to die. So what did you do? You brought an offering. It could be anything from a pigeon or a dove to a lamb to a goat to a bullock. It had to be with odd spot. And then what happened to it?
It died. And we know from the Old Testament and the New that that didn't get sins forgiven. That just covered sins. But what did John the Baptist say when he saw Jesus Christ for the first time in his public ministry? Behold, the Lamb of God.
That does what? That takes away the sins of the world. You see, Jesus Christ satisfies the demands of the law. Someone has to die, and he said, and it's me. But he has to die without blemish.
He has to be perfect according to the law. And Jesus Christ said, that's me. And then what happened on Easter morning? The third enemy is vanquished. Up from the grave, he arose. You see, even death could not hold him.
It's an amazing thing. Jesus Christ, this great triumph of Jesus Christ, made all of these things possible. Every one of them. Because he defeated every one of them. Paul is kind of overwhelmed by this thought. And so Paul decides in the next verse, he says, but thanks be to God. Who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory. It's a gift. It's caress. It's a gift. You don't earn a victory. You can't.
But you can receive it as a gift. You see, that's what happened with Jesus Christ. Notice he doesn't thank Jesus. He said it's through Jesus. He said, I thank God.
Maybe Paul's thinking of John 3.16. For God so loved the world, that includes you and me, that he gave his only begotten son. To do what? To be my sin bearer. To fulfill the law. He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not do what? Perish.
But have what? Everlasting life. You see, that's the great triumph of Jesus Christ. That's the core of everything it is that we believe. By the way, without this thought, our faith is pathetic.
We have nothing. Notice what Paul writes. Look at verse 13 of the same chapter.
Paul says this. If there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised. He said, and if Christ is not being raised, our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. Our preaching and your faith are empty. Another synonym you could use is our preaching and your faith is worthless. We live in a day and age that says, no, no, no matter what your faith is, no matter what you believe, that's what has worth.
Just believing something. Paul would disagree. He'd say, listen, if Jesus Christ isn't raised in the dead, you're wasting your time. I don't care what it is you believe. Notice then as he goes down to verse 17, he said, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.
Why? You're still in your sins. You've never settled the sin issue with Jesus Christ or with God the Father ever. You're still in your sins and the wages of your sin is death.
But he's not done. Verse 19. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
Pitied. You see, the bedrock of our faith is resurrection from the dead. First Jesus Christ and then ours. That's what makes it Christianity, not like any other world religion where you figure on your own merit in some way or another, if you do enough religious activities and live a life in a certain way and go about your issues in the best way that you could possibly please God, God will somehow grade on a curve and he'll let all you find people in.
It's a great thought. It's just not true. You won't find a word of it in the Bible.
It's not true. Jesus Christ is the difference here. The resurrection is right at the heart of everything that we believe. And so what does Paul say? He said thanks to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. It's a gift.
Paul says, you know, when I really think about this, I'm going to live forever in a resurrected body that's just like Christ's. I mean, think of that. A body that will have enough distinguishing marks that once it's there, I'll pass you, you'll pass me and you'll go, hey, Bill, how you doing? And don't underestimate this.
Especially in the area of the country we live. You can eat with that body. You can. You see, you can eat with it.
But you can also move through the dimensions. I don't know about you, but I think that's going to be fun. You see, and by the way, this body is not going to deteriorate. You see, I'm not going to get up some morning 10,000 years after I'm dead thinking, man, my knees are a little stiff. I'm not going to do that.
You see, I'm not going to do that. It's an overwhelming and wonderful thought. It's the heart of Christianity. It's the heart of our faith. And Paul says, I've got to give God thanks for this. So Paul writes like, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Because it's a gift. And then he moves to the great therefore in verse 58. Therefore, my beloved brethren. Because of these things, we have a great transformation to look forward to because of a great triumph of Jesus Christ over death.
And so we thank God for giving us the victory. And he says, Therefore, my beloved brethren, first be steadfast. Don't get distracted. Don't get distracted. Be steadfast.
He said, immovable. Don't get pushed around. This should be a prevailing thought that you have.
Hold this thought. Be steadfast. Be immovable, he said. You see, I think one of the reasons that the Apostle Paul said to live is Christ, to die is gain, is he thought about it a lot. He thought about it. He meant it with all of his heart.
To live is Christ, but to die is gain. You said, well, Paul, why? He go like, look at this body. Now remember something. He had an affliction.
It was so bad. He went in the flesh. He entreated the Lord three times to get rid of it. And the Lord said, no, Paul, when you're weak, I'm strong, so it stays. Now, tradition has it, as they look back on Paul, that he was probably in his 60s.
Very short. Some of the people that knew him said he was always humped over and bow-legged. Now, if you read the book of Acts, you come to a conclusion. This humped over, bent over guy, bow-legged, eyesight problem guy, walked thousands of miles in his 60s.
Given the gospel all over Eurasia. Now, I don't know about you, but now that I'm in my 60s, I got to think, I think I'd be tired. I think I'd be tired.
I mean, I spent yesterday morning with another 60-year-old plus-year-old man from our church, and we went to the dome to watch high school football, and I got tired walking in the parking garage with my seat. I got tired. So Paul says, man, I'm going to keep myself fixed on this. To live is Christ, to die is gain. He said, beloved, be steadfast, be immovable. And then he says, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
Why? Knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. See, if you think about this, your life might count for something. I don't want to sound too pessimistic, but what do we dedicate our lives to so often? You see, you dedicate your whole life for your retirement, for your nest egg. And as Solomon says, your kids or grandkids are going to just take it and squander it anyway.
But you think that's going to be important. People work incredibly long hours, dedicate their lives to a company for a lifetime, and they get a gold watch. And basically, a week and a half after you left the company, they forgot you're alive. But you dedicated yourself to it. You thought, this is what life is about.
But it's not. And the reason it can't be, because you're going to die. There's a time when you're not here anymore. There'll be a time when your company's not here anymore. Lord willing, there'll be a time when nothing will be here anymore that's here now. There'll be a time if the Lord tarries, there won't be pyramids.
There'll be sand. You see, that's the whole point of life. He says, then what do I invest in? I'll tell you what to invest in. Dedicating your life to helping other people not feel the sting of death. That's investment.
That's investment that reaps benefits forever. That's why he said, always abounding in the work of the Lord, the recoil is not in vain in the Lord. That's what he says happens to us. Death.
Something we usually don't like to talk about very much, because it's almost painful. The Apostle Paul says, we have a great transformation to look forward to, because of the great triumph of Jesus Christ. And so we give thanks to God for the gift. And then we dedicate ourselves to his work.
It only makes sense. It's an overwhelming thought. And so the next time you hear a sermon from the great preacher himself, death, listen carefully. Feel the sting. But you don't have to be afraid.
You don't have to be afraid at all. Death is swallowed up in victory. Jesus Christ did it.
You see, Easter morning did it. One final thing. You're probably wondering something. Because I get this question. What's it going to be like when I die? You ever thought about that? What's it going to be like when I die? OK. Honesty requires me to tell you the truth. I don't know.
But I have a pretty good idea. And the best way I've ever heard it described to me is by a man named Bishop Bergorov of Norway. And he was asked the question, what is it like when a believer dies? And he tells this story.
He said, death for the Christian is like this. Once there was a peasant who had a little son. And he took his little son by the hand one day. And he said, son, I want you to come with me on a journey to another village.
I have some business to take care of. And his son said, I'd be happy to go with you, father. And so they went. And they went off.
And they came to a river. And it was running very rapidly. And it was very deep. And there was a very rickety old bridge. And it didn't look like it would hold them. And it was rather insecure.
And parts of it were broken up. And the little boy became very afraid. And he said, dad, we'll never make it across because the bridge won't hold us. And his dad said, don't worry, son. He said, I'll hold your hand.
I'll be careful. And we'll make it. And so he and the little fellow went across the bridge hand in hand. And they made it across the bridge.
And they were safe. And they got to the other side. And they went to the village. And they finished their business. And on the way home, it became dark.
And a little boy began to remember the stream, the river, and the deep water, and the bridge. And he started to cry. And with tears in his eyes, he looked to his dad. And he said, dad, I know we won't make it. It's dark.
We can't see where we're going. And his dad never said a word to him but reached on and picked him up in his arms. And in a matter of seconds, the little boy was sound asleep in his father's arms. The next thing he knew, the little boy woke up. He was lying in his own bed, in his own room, in his own house. And sunlight was breaking through the window.
He was home. And Bishop Bergaroff then says, you see, that's what death is. What you fear the most, you don't even experience. One day, you fall asleep in the arms of Jesus. And then you wake up.
And then you're home. Let's pray. Father, I would pray for each and every one of us. Because if there is one message that applies to all of us, it's a message concerning our view and perspective of death. Because it touches every one of our lives.
We are all terminal. We will all physically die if the Lord tarries. But something else, Father, that is very important is that we don't have to be afraid. Because of what Jesus Christ did, because of his resurrection in the dead, because he lives, we can live also.
And this thought should drive fear from us. And this thought should compel us to want to share the good news of Christ with all that we can. Father, I thank you for sending your son. I thank him for dying on the cross in my place. And I thank you for the promise of my resurrection.
In Jesus' name, amen. And you can listen to Fellowship in the Word online. At that website, you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one-time gift. Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word, 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, fbcnola.org.
That's fbcnola.org. At our website, you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online. Or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is fbcnola.org. For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word.
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