It breaks long, loving relationships and unions.
It snatches people away from us. But one day, death will be swallowed up in victory. Death will be destroyed. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.
I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Perhaps you've sat at the bedside of a loved one who has been ravaged by disease, or your doctor has given you a diagnosis of cancer and followed it with the words Stage 4 or Terminal. In those trials, what hope do you have, and what hope can you point loved ones to? John MacArthur helps you with that today on Grace to You as he continues his study titled The End is Not the End. In a few moments, John's going to show you what comes after death and what it will be like to live with Christ forever. It's a message that should comfort you if you're a believer, and also motivate you to tell others about the eternal hope that only Christ offers.
With a lesson, here's John MacArthur. Skeptics, both ancient and modern, have argued against the truth of resurrection, scoffing at the idea that the body, which disintegrates in the grave or which is virtually destroyed in a fire or the bottom of the sea or some other way, could ever rise from the dead. So Paul writes this chapter, this massively important chapter of 58 verses, to help us understand the resurrection. Now there are four lines to follow here. There is first the great transformation, then the great triumph, then the great thanksgiving, and then the great therefore. That's just a way that we can break it down so that we can access with some level of understanding its wonderful truths. So let's begin with the great transformation that takes place in resurrection. And its first mention of this promise there is in John 14 where our Lord says, I'm coming to get you.
Now we don't know much more than that until we get to 1 Corinthians and find out that in getting us He has to transform us. And then we find out in the passage in 1 Thessalonians, which explains the rapture, that when He comes to get us, the people who are dead are going to be transformed first, and the rest of us gathered with them and changed on the way up. This unique event, this catching away of the church, this resurrection of the church, alive and dead, is the event which is the next event on God's prophetic calendar. There is no sign for this, it is the signless event, and it can happen at any time, at any time. Prophetically, nothing needs to happen before this. This is why we say as believers that we believe in imminency, that there is an imminent return of Christ, a signless event. And when it happens, we will all be changed.
It's going to be an amazing event. It involves the Lord who is going to shout and speak. It involves the archangel who is going to speak.
It involves this trumpet, then this instantaneous transformation. This is the sacred secret just revealed in the New Testament. A whole generation of believers who will still be alive in their natural bodies at that time will experience an instantaneous transformation in a nanosecond, or a sixth of a nanosecond, if you want to know how long it takes for light to pass from the outside of the eye to the inside of the eye, by which they will receive their glorious bodies, but not before those who are dead receive theirs and they're gathered into heaven together. This has to happen, verse 53 says, because we're going into the imperishable world and we're going into the immortal world, and what is perishable and what is mortal cannot come there. That is the great transformation. Then Paul in verse 54 speaks of the great triumph.
That is a triumphant moment. I don't have to ask you what your biggest problem is, it's you, right? All your problems are you. Your sin problems, your mental problems, your emotional problems, your physical problems, they're all you. I know you think people bring out the worst in you sometimes, but it's still you. Your problem is you.
You know, we've met the enemy and the enemy is us. And you can't fix you completely, but one day the Lord will and it will be triumphant. That's verse 54, when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, when you change this tent, this garment of your flesh and blood, and put on the imperishable new body of resurrection, when this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, that death is swallowed up in victory. That is the great triumph, the triumph over death. Now you do know, don't you, that death is a process. When you were born into the world, you started dying. You did, you started dying, and you're closer to death now than you've ever been before.
Tomorrow you'll be a day closer. We're all just dying. That's how it is. Death is an enemy. We fear it, we hide from it, we evade it, we mask it, we try to avoid it. We go to a funeral and people are in a casket, they look like a horizontal member of a cocktail party. We're trying to make them look like they're alive.
It would be my opinion to close the lid. We have reason to hate death. We have reason to fear death because it's unwelcome. It breaks long, loving relationships and unions. It removes those that are greatly needed.
It pounces on the most blushing baby cheeks and the most deeply wrinkled faces. It snatches people away from us. There's little reason for us to question that death is an enemy.
It is an enemy. But one day death will be swallowed up in victory. In that day, when is that? But when this perishable, what do you mean when?
When? At the resurrection. At the resurrection, death will be conquered. Death will be destroyed. By the way, that statement, death is swallowed up in victory, is a quote from Isaiah 25, 8. The Hebrew literally says, He will swallow up death forever.
Swallow is a dramatic verb, isn't it? You swallow something and it disappears. Death is not merely weakened, it is gone. It is destroyed so that it cannot do any further harm. The destruction of death is total. All of its short-lived and apparent victories are undone for God's children. What looks like a victory for death and a defeat for us when our bodies die in decay is utterly reversed, and death dies in the resurrection. Our bodies live again in absolute, triumphant, eternal beauty and victory. In fact, this causes the writer of Scripture to taunt death, verse 55. Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?
And that is taken from Hosea 13, 14, also from the Old Testament. So death is addressed in the figure of an animal or an insect that has some kind of poisonous sting that kills. Sting is kentron, refers to bees, and also refers to the poisonous bite of snakes. At the time of resurrection, death's sting is gone. Really, death's sting was sentenced to death at Calvary. You might say that death put its stinger into Christ and has been staggering ever since in the throes of death. Paul sees death forever conquered and sings this song of triumph. It is just an amazing and wonderful reality. Oh death, where is your victory?
You have none. Oh death, where is your sting? Then he interprets verse 55 and verse 56. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. It's not death itself that kills. Death has no power unless there is unforgiven sin. Then death is deadly. Death has no sting for the believer because there's no unforgiven sin.
It's all under the blood, it's all paid for, it's all forgiven, it's all removed, it's all atoned for. The power of sin is the law. If you break the law of God, you have sinned. And if you remain in that condition as an unforgiven law breaker, death has terminal power. But if all your sins are forgiven in Christ, then death has no power, and you can taunt death. Death really is like a welcome friend. Paul says, for to me to live is Christ and to die is what?
There's no sting. Far better to depart and be with Christ. Satan is a toothless lion, and death is a stingless bee. Now that leads Paul from the great transformation to the great triumph to the great thanksgiving in verse 57. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. For this triumphant approach to death, for this great promise of resurrection, who do we have to thank?
The Lord. It's the work of Christ that satisfies the law's claims. It's the work of Christ that paid the price for our sin. Christ bore the curse for us. The sting of death for the Christian, gone. Christ has taken that sting for us, and death is now a welcome friend. Death is disarmed. Death is defanged. Death just takes us into the presence of Christ. Death for us has been destroyed. So the great transformation, the great triumph leads to the great thanksgiving. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, it's being in Him that allows us to triumph over death. And then let me just close with a vital concluding point. I'll call it the great therefore. Therefore, isn't that fascinating? Fifty-seven verses of doctrine and one verse of application. You think doctrine's important?
Yeah, 57 to 1. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. What a great statement. Don't be moved around by your emotions. Don't be volatile in your fears and doubts. Don't be erratic and scatter-brained, easily discouraged. My beloved brethren, you will rise from the dead.
That is the promise of God. This is a full and loving appeal that really asks two things of us, be steadfast and immovable. What that means is stand for truth. Steadfast is an adjective, means sitting. It is the idea of being settled, seated, fixed, firm, solid, settled down.
Get ahold of your emotions, be settled, you're going to rise from the dead. He exhorts us to firm up our convictions, not wavering on this issue like the Corinthians were, but being immovable. That is a really interesting word, immovable. It's a compound word in the English, as it is in the Greek original. But it comes from a verb, kinēn, which means to set something in motion or to shift. There is an English word that comes from it, and that is the word cinema. Cinema is the English derivation of kinas, which is the German word for motion pictures, and motion pictures are just that. They are movements.
When something is in motion, it is cinema. Stop moving. Paul says, don't be in motion doctrinally, be settled, be steadfast, be firm, immovable. Do not, Hebrews 13, 9 says, be carried away by varied and strange teaching.
We have things like that enjoined upon us all through Scripture. Don't be like children, Ephesians 4, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine. Settle down on the rock-solid reality of the promise of the resurrection, unwavering.
All right, that's the doctrinal part of it. Go to work, always abounding in the work of the Lord, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know your toil is not in vain in the Lord. You're going to be raised to glory and rewarded for your work.
Don't just dabble at it. People say to me so often now, when are you going to retire? What does that mean? What are you asking me? When I lose my mind, then somebody will haul me off.
What do you mean, retire from what? The kingdom of God, abounding in the work of the Lord? People say, don't you get tired? I don't know what it is not to be tired.
It's a happy kind of condition that I've lived in for a long time. But it's a wonderful thing, it's a wonderful thing to be exhausted by abounding in the work of the Lord. Let me tell you something, the practical result of sound doctrine is commitment to hard work in the kingdom, because that's where your doctrine takes you. And it isn't that you do it in a nominal way, but you abound at it, and you abound at it always.
Perissuo is the word, literally means overdoing it, more than expected, more than enough. Now look, if there's no resurrection, forget it, let's all retire. If we're just going to get lost in nothingness, forget it. But there is a resurrection, and we're going to be with our Lord forever, and heaven is going to be filled with the people that other believers were used to reach. There is a resurrection. So be steadfast, immovable in the theology of the resurrection, and then always overdo it in the work of the Lord. Work is ergon, that's exactly what it means, work, work, because such work is not in vain.
It's not for nothing, it's for the Lord, and we're going to spend forever with Him. Can't come back and redo this. Can't say, you know, Lord, I worked for You a little while, it was really, really good, and I just got busy. Or, Lord, I did it until I was 62.
You know, then it's time to retire, the last 18 years of my life I rested. Really. Can't come back. No, that wouldn't be the attitude of somebody who understood the great, therefore, here. Certainly wasn't the attitude of Paul or Epaphroditus.
Remember him? Verse 2, Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier, he was longing for you all, was distressed because you heard that he was sick. He was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, not on him only, but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. He was sick to the point of death, ministering relentlessly. Sick to the point of death.
How do you know that? Verse 30, he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me. An ideal situation just to wear yourself out in service. And then grab the promise of Revelation 22, 12, Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me to give to every man that reward based on our work. Stand firm on the resurrection, work hard. So look, when we talk about the resurrection, we're talking about a truth that has powerful implications for our life, and that's verse 58.
You ought to circle verse 58 or do whatever you do in your Bible, underline it. What the resurrection promise of God, this incredibly gracious, marvelous, incomprehensible promise that we're going to be raised like Christ and have a resurrection body like His, as we saw in our earlier study, that the Lord is giving us that forever, and consequently what He's asking of us is in this little veil of tears that vanishes and disappears like a vapor in the few years that we have, let's get settled down, not wavering, not moving around, not vacillating in our convictions, and at all times overdoing it in the work of the Lord, because our labor in His name is not in vain. Father, we thank You for our time in this chapter.
What an amazing experience it's been to go through it. We thank You for the theology that is the foundation of our behavior. We know that all theology is applied theology. All theology is practical theology.
There's no theological truth that doesn't have immediate practical implications, immediate practical implications. So we're so grateful for all that You've done for us, and we want it to show up in our lives. That's our prayer.
Amen. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur and his series called The End is Not the End. Along with teaching on the radio, John also serves as chancellor of the Master's University and Seminary.
Now, John, as we continue this study, let's get real practical. Talk to that person at the bedside of a dying Christian, a family member, or a friend with days, and maybe hours left to live in this life. What words of comfort, what words of hope are most needed at that moment? Well, you have to remember what that verse says. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Why it's precious to Him is because He longs to have His beloved people in His presence.
You have to look at it from the divine side. God loves His own children. God is love. God loves us.
That's why He sent His Son. God loves us. That's why He regenerated us. He loves us. That's why He justified us. He loves us. That's why He adopted us as sons. So from God's perspective, He longs to have us in His presence.
That is just an amazing thing to think about. God saving sinners is not some concession. He's not saying, Well, I don't like you. I'm upset with you. I'm mad at you.
But yeah, okay, I'll give in and save you. No, He loves His own. He loves His own. This is over and over and over again stated in Scripture, and He will love us forever. He will love us forever. He will lavish us with love forever. So from His viewpoint, it is precious when He can take us out of this world with all of our struggles and all of our pain.
If you can imagine that you're a loving father, and somehow you could take the child that you love out of all pain, all suffering, all threats, all dangers, and bring him to the safety of your side, that would be precious to you if you could do that. Well, that's God. He looks at us with such love that it's a precious reality for Him to be able to rescue us. Now, that is the heart of salvation.
That is the heart of the gospel. God wants, lovingly, to rescue sinners from sin and death and hell. And to say that at the deathbed of a dying believer is, God wants you.
You're leaving us. We hate to see you go, but He wants you. He loves you. He wants you in His presence.
What greater comfort is that? That's true of every believer. You have to understand salvation.
You have to understand it rightly. And that's why I want to mention the book, Only Jesus, What It Really Means to Be Saved. It is basically drawn from the very well-known book that I wrote years ago, The Gospel According to Jesus.
This is that truth in another version, another format. The book again, Only Jesus, What It Really Means to Be Saved. Order it today from Grace To You. In fact, order copies of them for your family and friends. That's right, friends, do order this book, multiple copies. And if you place your order by June 8th, you'll save 25% off the normal price.
Pick up the book, Only Jesus, and dig into what Jesus taught about the gospel. You can place your order when you contact us today. Call today between 730 a.m. and 4 o'clock p.m. Pacific Time. Our toll-free number is 855-GRACE or visit the website GTY.org.
The title again of this book, Only Jesus. Pick up a copy. The price is $750 until June 8th when you call 800-55-GRACE or visit GTY.org. Of course, our limited time sale is the perfect opportunity to stock up on Bible study resources for yourself and for your loved ones. You can get classic books like The Gospel According to Jesus, devotionals like Strength for Today and Remember and Return, as well as our flagship resource, the MacArthur Study Bible, or any one of John's 34 New Testament commentaries, each for 25% off the regular price. To place your order, call toll-free 800-55-GRACE or shop online at GTY.org. This sale won't last for long, so place your order today. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here next week when John looks at what the first-century church can teach you about effectively serving the Lord in 2023. John will be starting a series titled Lessons for a Modern-Day Disciple with another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
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